IF You KNEW Your Next “Job”…

JigSaw-partnershipIf a job seeker KNEW their next employer, the responsibilities they’d have–the title, and were assured of that terrific “cultural FIT…”  Then, all they’d have to do to create productivity and efficiency in their search efforts is to “reverse engineer” the desired result into successful approaches.

Easier said than done… but underlying that fantasy we see the infrastructure for turning opportunities into interviews to secure their next right employment opportunity.


This Week’s Session, Thursday, August 15th… Turning Opportunities Into Interviews


chalk1This topic represents what most people call ‘active job search, but, as you can learn, the HOW –TO is what creates your success in networking. It professes strategies and tactics that will generate more effective networking.  In your ‘first wave’ of networking you had the opportunity to:

  1. Reconnect with people you already know or have cause to know…
  2. In a non-threatening environment, confirm your positioning and get valuable input to your assessment and objective setting…
  3. Broaden your networking base, and gaining confidence in the process–a neat by-product that will serve you well for the rest of your career…
  4. Identify attractive opportunities, and targeted organization!

You’ll be the first to know when you’re ready for ‘wave 3’ of networking… which, simply put, is networking your way in to attractive opportunities.  You will focus your activity and time management to the business of creating INTERACTIVE COMMUNICATION with employees, customers, and vendors–the “stakeholders”– within and surrounding any targeted organization.

 RESEARCHING: TARGET Organizations

Step six in our 12-step Process, first level research, will help you to identify attractive trends and targeted companies.  But, in THIS context, I suggest digging a bit deeper in order to help secure an interview… Learn as much as possible about the company, the potential opportunity, and the hiring authority–This is usually your next boss, but could be even higher in the chain of command.

Your research goals ought to include developing information about the company’s products, people, organizational structure, successes (and failures), profits (and losses), capital spending, strategic plans, philosophy and labor climate. Showing your knowledge of some of this information can give you added credibility over other candidates networking to, and actually interviewing for the job.

  • Research the company web site, looking for information relative to your function and level… a company’s financial and annual reports can provide clues to their stability and market share. Don’t forget directories, trade journals, the “business press,” and databases of articles and other news.
  • As part of your ‘second wave of networking,’ ask a friendly recruiter, business acquaintance or stockbroker what they know about the company… and by extension, call people with whom you have networked and ask what they know about the company
  • Check with the local Chamber of Commerce or Better Business Bureau.
  • Call the company directly; request a sales brochure, annual report or other company information. Companies have to market themselves, too, you know!

 Telephone and Networking Skills

On a scale of passive to assertive => to aggressive, let’s take a look at how we could communicate direct to contacts in and surrounding a targeted organization…

 Email…safe, but too easy to be deleted before a relationship is established. Requires follow-up.

LETTER of introduction… also safe, but read more often. Paves the way for a first call to a referral… creates dialog. Requires phone follow-up.

Phone call…direct… often a cold call… requires risk. Establishes contact, interaction and, worst case, VISIBILITY.

There’s only two reasons to be on the phone during active job search…

  1. Reconnecting with valid contacts, seeking their advice and information, sharing your communication strategy, and seeking referral activity…
  2. Securing actual interviews

Cover NOTE and resume… Rather than mindlessly applying to countless jobs, playing the numbers game; develop your networking style to motivate a person to request your resume.  When requested, resumes get read more often, AND…

  • Establishes relationship.
  • Requires follow-through.
  • Leads to face2face office visit!
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Taking The ‘PULSE’ Of Your Job Search

AjustDaSailsA lot of individuals with a rebellious streak resist structure, snub the idea of a schedule, and then find that their lives and creative output aren’t nearly as harmonious as they hoped. As job seekers, they may find it quite difficult to get in to a productive and efficient routine, the implementation of their Personal Marketing Plan.

If you fall at this end of the spectrum and find it hard to accept — and even harder to follow — a standard routine, maybe it’s time to stop thinking about managing your time and effort as developing a set of strict rules to follow. In fact, implementing your PMP wisely is to commit to averaging your activity counts and time management ‘numbers’ over a longer stretch of time.


NEXT Week’s Session, Thursday, August 8th… Implementing Your PMP,  Exploring THE Careerpilot’s ‘wave theory.’


bob-maher-4587-editStart thinking about increasing productivity as a process of finding and cultivating your unique creative rhythm — your cadence, your implementation beat… your job search “PULSE.” Create a personal discipline for yourself, a way of being, where there’s a realistic goal (your next right employment opportunity) and recognize the need to maintain a consistency of fruitful activity to propel our 12-step process of career transition forward… all while allowing room for improvisation and job search/ LIFE balance!

If this sort of approach sounds appealing to you, here are some ideas based on my own anecdotal experiences with thousands of unemployed people over my 39 years of experience in consulting with job seekers around the U.S.of A.

Monthly Cadence

Job Seekers can typically get more done in a month when they plan for less. Most people have a natural rhythm where they can accomplish about one major professional project or one personal milestone in a month. As an example, think about developing your resume and related personal marketing materials.

1. Resume
2. “Tell me about yourself” or your ‘elevator pitch’ or even your qualification statement
3. Your digital footprint: Branding yourself in your LinkedIn Profile

If you tell yourself that you’ll do three items of this stature in a month, you’ll probably make little progress on any of them. If you commit to one specifically for the month, there’s a high probability that you’ll accomplish it or get close to finishing within the four weeks. Honor that monthly project cadence, and you’ll feel much more satisfied.

What’s more, it’s also essential that you honor your personal and emotional energy cadence over the course of the month. Of course, there are exceptions, but as a general rule, one or two distractions a month are the max that most individuals can take without getting thrown significantly off rhythm.

Also, consider pacing yourself in regard to events you host or visitors that you have in your home. All of these events add a nice sense of variety to life, but can make you lose the beat if the exceptions become the norm.

Weekly Cadence

I would never attempt to define a “normal” week of job search…there are simply too many variables! But, I do encourage those Candidates that I serve to commit to AVERAGING the numbers they select in the Personal Marketing Plan.  You can think about this in the same way you would a design template. It’s a format that you can then build and modify as necessary for any given project — in this case, your job search week.

1. Include ramp-up time on Monday morning, so that the first few hours of the week are blocked out for weekly planning and processing after the weekend.
2. Schedule focused practice or research time on Wednesday afternoons.
3. Get out of the house on Tuesdays and Thursdays… go to a coffee shop and get quality, uninterrupted work done. This turns moving a major initiative forward into something that feels like a nice mid-week mini-break from the normal day-to-day.
4. Wind down on Friday afternoons. I block out about three hours to wrap up anything that took longer than I anticipated or to work on non-urgent administrative tasks that are nice to get done before closing up for the weekend.
5. At least one weekday evening, accomplish personal to-do items and recharge. I’m very involved in my community and lifestyle, but even extroverts need a day off.

NORMAL? … Don’t hold your breath, but you can, of course, adapt, adjust, and amend all of this as necessary. But this rhythm is what I suggest, and I find it leads to a productive week with closure before the weekend… and plenty of time for those “normal” distractions!

Daily Cadence

There is no one right formula for having a productive day of job search activities. The trick is to be honest with yourself about what works best for you to get the most of your 24 hours.  Personally, I spend the first hour to hour and a half planning, answering e-mail, and completing small to-do items, and then I jump into more in-depth work and client calls by 8:30.

With some of my Candidates, the best daily rhythm is to check e-mail very quickly in the morning and then focus on in-depth work until lunch. After lunch they have meetings or respond to emergencies that have come up. No matter which you prefer, you want to have clarity on when you do your best focused work, when you prefer to have meetings, and when you’ll make space for the processing and planning that keeps everything moving in the right direction.

Back-to-Center Cadence

Finally, it’s important to know what pattern can help you to get back on track when there are major variations to your Personal Marketing Plan. Being honest with yourself and giving yourself permission to spend time reorganizing when you need it keeps you from feeling perpetually behind and guilty.

For example, you will experience the least pressure when you block out a few days before and after any significant time away from your job search so that no one can schedule meetings with you on those days. That gives you the flexibility you need for wrapping up work and getting your head back in the game after being away…maintaining your visibility in the job market.

Also, consider blocking out at least a half day after a conference or major networking event to tie up loose ends, follow up, and sort through your notes. This will give you the ability to extract the value from what just happened. The more disruptive the event, the more time you’ll want to allot to resettle in and get back on a rhythm.

Rhythm on a monthly, weekly, and daily basis can create the order, productivity, efficiency, and flexibility you need for the implementation of your Personal Marketing Plan to flow productively and efficiently… It’s time to “take your pulse.”

What’ll IT Be… Push or Pull?

Your Career CompassSocial media is a great place to learn about and create a digital conversation with your market.  However, potential employers do not want to be talked-to, or worse yet sold-to on these platforms. Your followers want to know they have a place to come learn, to ask questions about things THEY care about, and to know they are being heard.

Here are some things we’ve learned from listening to those we’ve served since the advent of LinkedIn, the preferred place for professional level job seekers to leave their “digital footprint.”


THIS Week’s Session, Thursday, July 25th… A LinkedIn PRIMER: Exploring Tasks #2 & 3, developing your network and finding JOBS via LinkedIn


Pilot OnboardIn “PUSH Marketing,” you need to take a low-key approach and offer 90% of insights and education to your market, with only 10% of things that would be seen as a sales pitch. Of course, ALL your social media content is “selling” in one way or another, but your market will be turned off if it comes across as a hard sell.

On the other side, don’t just post silly photos or motivation quotes. Position yourself as a subject matter expert and a source of real help to your followers, by sharing valuable information your market cares about (using UPDATES to post white papers…or sprinkle them in to your Profile).

PULL Marketing,” on the other hand, requires a concerted effort to optimize your keyword concentration (SEO) to attain high page ranking in keyword searches.  This is where most beginners start as they learn and gain confidence with the various functionalities offered by LinkedIn

The challenge is that either approach, when taken to an extreme, could be viewed as manipulative or ‘gaming the system’ (extreme pull)… or just too much narrative fluff (extreme push).  WE will be taking a down the middle-of-the-road approach which will give both beginning and intermediate users of LinkedIn the ‘best of both worlds’ in LinkedIn utility.

In-Sync, NOT Duplicate Personal Marketing Collaterals

While one’s resume is all about wise use of two pages worth of ‘vertical space,’ your LinkedIn Profile has no such limitation, but contains the very same elements of content: A clear positioning statement, a concise qualification summary, evidence of your supportive experience, and your education/ training.

Embracing Effective Tactics In The OTHER Job Market

roadsign-banner2The traditional job seeker spends most of their time on job boards…and trying to figure out the “right” KEYWORDS.  It starts by taking the path of least resistance… applying for those jobs that you feel ideally suited for.  After all, this approach  comes with a low risk of direct rejection.  In fact, it also comes with a low response ratio… The Internet’s ‘black hole.’   Instead of being told “no,” you’re told nothing.

Or you receive the automated “thanks but no thanks” emails that come seconds after you submit your application… not once touched by a human hand!


NEXT Week’s Session, Thursday, June 27th… A LinkedIn Primer: an overview of your push/pull choice and your three tasks within fully utilizing this GPS to networking.


Ready+aim+fireThat’s why it’s important to look for your next employment opportunity outside job boards… Don’t limit yourself to posted jobs, or even un-posted jobs in the ‘hidden job market.’ Learn to embrace the OTHER job market, the one where employers are seeking your ‘top talent.’.

Many real opportunities exist outside job boards … in abundance. So if you’re willing to do the work that almost no one else wants to do to unearth your ‘next right employment opportunity,’ here are the TOP TEN tactics to create connections within the OTHER job market:

  1. USE THE JOB BOARDS, but before you apply for a specific job…network your way to the opportunity presented you!

Often, this approach will identify individuals who request your resume, either for forwarding, or, best yet, for their endorsement.  A requested resume is read more frequently…your reward for embracing the OTHER job market.

  1. Take the word ‘JOB’ out of your vocabulary until scheduling actual interviews.

An appropriate replacement would be to consider the acronym ‘A.I.R.’  When networking your way to the interview process, seek Advice, Information and referral activity to interact with connections regarding the ‘next right opportunity’ you desire.

  1. Never prematurely create the chance for rejection that you want to avoid

It’s absolutely OK to be perceived as a qualified, motivated and available professional!  JOB seekers  command a yes-no-maybe choice.

  1. Reach out to the majority of your LinkedIn contacts.

Just remember to keep it professional yet personal. See if you can relate to something they’ve written or the job they do to increase your chances of building a solid relationship. You want to be professional in how you respond, but personal so it doesn’t feel so much of an inconvenience or sales pitch to them.

  1. Check with your college alumni network.

Everyone knows someone.  Often, this approach can lead to connections that bring forth new opportunities that lead to your next job. You already have something in common (your alma mater), so it can be easier to connect.

  1. Search for corporate alumni where you used to work and connect with those new individuals.

Again, since you have something in common (previous place of employment), this can work to your benefit. Make this a regular task of your job searching and you’ll be amazed at the new connections you can achieve.

  1. Explore business news stories.

Where there’s smoke, there’s fire. If a company launches a new business, there’s often hiring happening to support it. If a company downsizes, believe it or not, that creates opportunities. Position yourself as a solution and reach out.

  1. Research industry conferences and conventions.

Whether you attend or not, conferences, trade shows, and conventions are nuggets of opportunities to capitalize on. Get familiar with the major ones in your industry and do your due diligence to make connections…a nice little sideline are the hospitality suites many Companies sponsor.

  1. Look up educational and career/professional development events.

Relish in your own personal development.  People who grow and stick together help each other. Do your research to find these but also reach out to others in your industry to get ideas. Simply ask them which events they plan on attending in the near future.

  1. Find professional association members.

Members normally take care of each other. So join these groups, but do more than just joining them; get active. That’s the best way to get noticed and build solid connections.

There are many other ways to secure the next right opportunity for employment and stay off job boards, but these are the most important. And all will require you to get your resume updated and in order.

In every marketplace, there are buyers and sellers.  In the traditional job market, the one that our Department of Labor measures for us, job seekers are the sellers and their potential employers are the buyers.  The commodity is productive work and the competition is fierce.

Remember, in the OTHER Job Market, buyers and sellers hold equal responsibility for the recruitment process.  Each plays an important role in the process.  When employers have a need for someone to fulfill a specific role, often the most desired candidates are employed individuals with the credentials they seek.

Thus the employer can identify key candidates, sell their Company to new employees in the marketplace… in order to attract the best of the lot.  Once identified, they simply select the ‘top talent’ and buy their services.

Wave #3: Turning OPPORTUNITIES Into INTERVIEWS

chalk1This topic represents what most people call ‘active job search, but, as you can learn, the HOW –TO is what creates your success in networking. It professes strategies and tactics that will generate more effective networking.

In your ‘first wave’ of networking you had the opportunity to reconnect with people you already know, in the ‘second wave,’ those you have cause to know… a nice by-product of your efforts is the identification of attractive opportunities, and targeted organizations!


NEXT WEEK’s Session, Thursday, May 30th… Turning Opportunities Into Interviews:  A closer look at networking your way IN to a targeted organization


Pilot OnboardYou’ll be the first to know when you’re ready for ‘wave 3’ of networking… which, simply put, is networking your way in to attractive opportunities.

You will focus your activity and time management to the business of creating INTERACTIVE COMMUNICATION with employees, customers, and vendors–the “stakeholders”– within and surrounding any targeted organization.

 THE BASICS

So what are those basics that will allow you to effectively network to identify appropriate opportunities, and then secure the requisite INTERVIEWS in order to “close the deal?”

  1. Practice your two minute drill every chance you get…. it’s the fundamental building material of your communication strategy–your verbal collaterals!
  2. Practice your exit and qualification statements… most all potential employers and networking contacts will want to know your current situation and why you are available.
  3. Practice answering both common and tough questions… including pre-offer negotiation tactics. The most asked question during career transition is, “Tell me about yourself.” Appropriate use of your two-minute drill and related verbal strategies, your “verbal collaterals,” is a key ingredient to personal salesmanship.

Let’s not forget a couple of additional ‘collaterals’ that will help you round out your ability to ‘get the word out’ and serve as evidence of your qualifications.

  1. Brag bytes… Wordcraft various collections of words, phrases and sentences to capture memorable moments or accomplishments–the best you have to offer. “…saved 80% cost-perhire…” Used in MSWord, ‘Quick Parts’ can be quite efficient when building high impact correspondence as well.
  2. Personal Portfolio… Your collection of certificates, examples of work, reference letters, etc that can bring life and interest (not to mention PROOF) to your story.

RESEARCHING TARGET Organizations

Step six in our 12-step Process, first level research, will help you to identify attractive trends and targeted companies.  But, in THIS context, I suggest digging a bit deeper in order to help secure an interview…

Learn as much as possible about the company, the potential opportunity, and the hiring authority–This is usually your next boss, but could be even higher in the chain of command.

Your research goals ought to include developing information about the company’s products, people, organizational structure, successes (and failures), profits (and losses), capital spending, strategic plans, philosophy and labor climate.

  • As part of your ‘second wave of networking,’ ask a friendly recruiter, business acquaintance or stockbroker what they know about the company… and by extension, call people with whom you have networked and ask what they know about the company
  • Check with the local Chamber of Commerce or Better Business Bureau.
  • Call the company directly; request a sales brochure, annual report or other company information. Companies have to market themselves, too, you know!

Telephone and Networking Skills

On a scale of passive to assertive => to aggressive, let’s take a look at how we could communicate direct to contacts in and surrounding a targeted organization…

Email…safe, but too easy to be deleted before a relationship is established. Requires follow-up.

LETTER of introduction… also safe, but read more often. Paves the way for a first call to a referral… creates dialog. Requires phone follow-up.

Phone call…direct… often a cold call… requires risk. Establishes contact, interaction and, worst case, VISIBILITY.

There’s only two reasons to be on the phone during active job search…

  1. Reconnecting with valid contacts, seeking their advice and information, sharing your communication strategy, and seeking referral activity…
  2. Securing actual interviews

Cover NOTE and resume… Rather than mindlessly applying to countless jobs, playing the numbers game; develop your networking style to motivate a person to request your resume.  When requested, resume gets read more often. Establishes relationship. Requires follow-through. Face2face office visit!

Taking On The 500# Gorilla

Compass-seaLWhy is it that even though “networking” stacks the deck in the favor of a job seeker, there seems to be this 500# GORILLA that stands in the way?

If you don’t understand the interactive nature of networking, now’s the time to learn. To be an effective networker, you need to be willing to serve as a conduit, sharing information, building relationships based on trust and reciprocity, leveraging existing relationships to create new ones, and following through to create ways to stay in touch to continue giving.


NEXT Week’s Session, Thursday, May 23rd… Implementing YOUR Personal Marketing PLAN: The creation of powerful, productive “waves” in your job search


bob-maher-4587-editThose who don’t fully understand the process, who use people for information and never build the relationship, or return the favor, give networking a bad name and lose credibility in the eyes of others. Networking is about building trust and respect, not tearing away at it!

So, what exactly IS this 500# gorilla that gets in the way of efficient, more productive job search activity?

  1. Lack of awareness regarding the effectiveness of networking. Most people in a job search spend too much time canvassing the open job market, the market everyone gets to see through job posting boards and recruiters.
  2. I don’t want to ask for a favor. Many people think that when you network you’re asking someone for a job… this is not the goal of networking.  You ask for information about an industry, company, or position.
  3. Not comfortable talking to people they don’t know. Sixty percent (60%) of the population consider themselves shy. This perception leads to less networking. If the prospect of speaking to someone you don’t know is overwhelming right now, start to build your network by talking with people you do know such as friends, family, neighbors, or your doctor or dentist.
  4. Fear of rejection. Many people fear that if they ask for information the other person might not be willing to talk to them.

While it is true that not everyone will agree to meet with you, many people will extend help to you and you have nothing to lose by asking.  If they can lead you to others who can help you gain necessary information for your search, your network will grow in a steady, comfortable way.  And at the same time, your confidence and comfort will be growing.  And as your confidence grows, “listen” for the anticipated jobs (PRE-requisition) and the opportunities for undefined roles…

Learn to embrace this OTHER Job Market… but the pathway to IT is through your comfort level in identifying and pursuing the unpublished, or hidden marketplace.

Far fewer explore the hidden market; the actual jobs that are never posted, but instead are filled through connections, internal endorsements, and post-interview placements into a better fitting role  The odds of finding a position through the smaller, hidden market are greater than those in the open market.

Your TOOLKIT For The OTHER Job Market

chalk1Embracing The OTHER Job Market does not require black magic, just a bit of confidence in yourself.  The best thing about this black-hole-free job search approach is that when you start to reach hiring managers directly, you’ll be in more substantive conversations right away than the typical HR screening process allows.

That’s because your hiring manager, a/k/a “The Person With the NEED to be addressed,” isn’t hung up on your certifications and years of experience with random tools.


NEXT Week’s Session, Thursday, March 21st… an examination of the 3rd party world of recruitment: WHO Do You Trust?


bob-maher-4587-editWith the hiring authority, you have an opportunity to talk about what really matters, whatever NEED the job requisition was designed to alleviate, when you’re talking directly with the person who’s actually losing sleep over the budget shortfall or the customer exodus or whatever is rotten in Denmark.

Here’s your toolkit for stepping up from tradition, “Black Hole job-hunting” to take your career into your own hands, and reach out to hiring managers who are facing exactly the sort of business pain you can solve.

Having a GREAT Resume

There’s no sense creating a direct channel for your message if you’re planning to deliver a robot-speak “gag-me-with-a-spoon” -type resume to your hiring manager. In order to make your direct approach count, you’ve got to come across as human on paper.

An “Echo” Letter of Introduction

An echo letter of introduction is a snail-mail letter that goes directly from you to one hiring manager in one employer. It is personal, in the sense that you’ve learned enough to say something insightful about what the employer is doing, where they might be running into rough seas, and how your background relates to the hiring manager’s most likely business need.

Your ECHO LETTER of Introduction reduces the awkwardness of your follow-up, cold call… gives you BOTH something to talk about.  And the best part is that it doesn’t prematurely expose you to the more traditional YES-No-maybe judgement!

A Need Solving LinkedIn Profile

…One that is in sync with your resume to be requested and read.  If your hiring manager opens your letter and reads it, the first thing s/he’s likely to do is find your LinkedIn profile. (You will have listed your profile url at the top of your resume, just under your email address, so your LinkedIn profile will be easy to find.)

Fodder for your Echo Letter of Introduction

You’ll need to find the name of your hiring manager on LinkedIn, an easy thing to do unless the firm you’re approaching is IBM or another corporate behemoth. You can use LinkedIn to search on the company name and the title of the person you’d typically report to (Materials Director, e.g.) and get your hiring manager’s name quickly.

Need a HOOK?  Get one from the Company website.  Lastly, you’ll need the company’s mailing address, which will be on the company’s website, too.

Embracing The OTHER Job Market

The last thing you need to approach The OTHER Job Market effectively is a willingness to step out of the standard “I’m a Good Little Jobseeker” frame. Sometimes, this is the hardest part of the process.

Once you realize that even if the hiring manager hates your letter or if a fearful HR person, affronted by your direct approach, blacklists you from employment in that firm forever, you will still be fine. No one is going to come to your house and slash your tires because you sent a guy a letter that said “Maybe you have this kind of issue going on. A lot of people do. Maybe I’ve run into that kind of thing before. Maybe we should talk.”

But Bob, I was told not to contact the hiring manager directly!

You are an adult and a professional. Are you taking orders now from people you don’t know who also aren’t paying you?

But, Bob, what if my failure to follow the rules gets me in trouble with that company?

Would you consider for three seconds working in a place where the act of sending a fellow businessperson a letter with a stamp on it gets you cast out and exiled? If you were banished from the kingdom for that heinous infraction in business etiquette, you would have dodged a big old bullet.

NETWORKING is a contact sport!.

We know that lots of employers have to step up their game and bring a human voice to the recruiting machine. The good news is that it’s easy to do.

In the meantime, job-seekers can sidestep the dysfunctional, traditional system and have pain-and-pain-solving conversations with hiring managers any time they’re