Thursday, August 27, 2009

Hunting AND Farming on The Ladders to Success in a Job Search

I read an article on The Ladders, a career website for those who earn over $100,000 per year. The piece was titled "Are you a Hunter or Farmer" by Debra Feldman. While well written, it missed the mark when it came to good advice for those seeking jobs. It oversimplified the idea of "hunting and farming" and created the falsehood that life is a competition between those who strike fast and those who cultivate meaningful connections.

Feldman said about Hunters and Farmers (as job seekers):

"One role may be a better fit depending on the market conditions. However, today’s highly competitive job market demands that candidates adopt the hunter approach. "

I disagree. This is only true if the individual has totally ignored building and cultivating real relationships throughout their career. If they find themselves out of work and have ignored the concepts of networking, then yes... they had better become a hunter. Farming takes a lifetime of dedication.

Ms. Feldman said that farmers:

**maintain the status quo
**are content to harvest existing customer business
**are often in maintenance mode

WRONG. Not the farmers I have seen (real ones in the field or the proverbial job seeking type o whom the article refers). Farmers are not about status quo or harvesting existing resources. They are about looking forward, calculating the unknown, and creating valuable and sustainable opportunities that benefit more people than just themselves. She implies that farmers are lazy. I assume she has spent her life in the big city!

You cannot create lifelong respect, understanding and referrals from the people in your network overnight. Investing your attention in other people and establishing yourself as a key contact in their lives takes time.

Taken as a competition between "hunters" and "farmers", her article makes everyone seem in need of a shower. Dirty and selfish. The thought that you should only be a hunter or a farmer goes back to the silly, but ongoing sales debate of "networking vs. cold-calling". Who in the name of Pete thinks it is only one or the other? Success in sales comes from both cold-calling and networking. Success in a job search comes from being a "hunter" and a "farmer".

In this one-sided argument she added:

"The farmers are often left waiting in the dust while their proactive, persistent hunter competitors land new jobs."

I cry foul. If this was really a contest then the farmers are NOT being left in the dust. They have already found new opportunities because they have spent a lifetime establishing relationships and constructing a personal brand that has lead them to new jobs before the hunter has woken up (and hunters are early risers!!!). The people they have helped for years step up and help them. Farming communities have a long history of assisting others whom they know, like and trust (ever built a barn alone?).

I hate to pick on Ms. Feldman, as I am sure she is a great person. But her article over simplifies the topic and leaves the job seeker who has not spent much time caring about establishing a real network with the false belief that they can win by being self-focused on the career ladder.

If you really want success (especially in the $100,000 + job market) you had darn well better be hunting and farming!!! Be cunning and creative in your efforts to seeking out new leads, but you will be best served if you began sowing the seeds for your future a decade ago.

Have A Great Day.


*** "Batteries Not Included: 66 Tips to Energize Your Career" (New Year Publishing, 2009) is now available at

1 comment:

Theresa said...

Great points, Thom. One of the many reasons I canceled my membership to The Ladders.