The activities within its pages represent more of a cycle. The tasks are repetitive and you will focus on repeating them and refining your performance each time you execute them. You will repeat them in your search until you find a job.
We also show you how to survive the process and succeed. We will explain exactly what you will be doing and how to prepare and plan to maximize your efforts. Although the process of job searching is multidimensional, you will find that it all boils down to consistently executing a list of key activities–prospecting, presenting, and following up. Success comes from being disciplined, and repeating these activities until you find the right job.
Let’s implement our plan.
The people that hire people are called “Decision Makers”. They are the most important people in our contact lists. It is of critical importance that we focus our efforts on identifying Decision Makers.
Job search experts say it takes 15-20 contacts to identify 1-2 Decision Makers and the job seeker needs to connect with an average of 25 Decision Makers to find a job.
You can see why it is important to track your activities by recording the number of hours worked and the number of contacts collected. Good progress takes disciplined effort. If you work 30-35 hours a week to connect with 15-20 contacts and discover 1-2 new Decision Makers, you have made good progress.
Nearly everything that you do in your job search can be summed up into three activities:
- Prospecting: Reaching out to your existing network and looking for new companies, contacts and positions to target.
- Presenting: Meeting with people on the phone and in person to share your story. This may come in the form of a networking meeting, phone or personal interview.
- Following-up: Follow-up is where you are reconnecting with your contacts after you have connected with them regarding your job search. This may be sending thank you notes or emails or leaving voicemail messages.
Anybody in sales will attest that these are the three primary activities that fill their days. Whether you like it or not, you are now in sales. These three activities will be repeated in various ways throughout your search.
The first method should be networking with you existing contacts. The second method should be responding to job ads found on the internet, newspaper and company postings. The third method should be determined by your own personal preferences relating to your strategy. You will select your third method from the following list. If you prefer, you can use a combination of all 3 methods below.
- Direct mail
- Walk-in and fill out an application
- Using recruiters
As you begin prospecting, begin with your existing network. Begin here because this is the group of people where you will potentially have the most success. Review your contact tracking log and make contact with those individuals who are most relevant to your job search.
Start with trial meetings and then progress from there.
This isn’t rocket science, it is a formulated progression. First, reach out to your existing network to set up meetings to share your marketing plan and resume. During these meetings, you also ask for job leads, engage in discussions to discover new target companies, and ask for new contacts.
There are three basic ways to set up a meeting: by phone, email, or in person. In some cases it may require a combination of these methods to set up a meeting.
The best way to get a meeting with your existing network is to call them. Phone calls generally solicit the most immediate response. Sending an email may work, but it is less immediate and a lot easier to ignore. Talking to people in person is the easiest and most direct way to connect to get a meeting, however, this may not always be practical based on your typical day.
Getting a meeting with your network should be pretty straightforward. Your first priority should be to schedule the meeting in person over coffee or lunch. If this isn’t possible (your contact lives out of state or is unavailable) the next best thing is to schedule 15-30 minutes for a phone meeting.
When you talk, be personal and catch-up. Force yourself to spend as much time, if not more on them, than you spend talking about yourself. Ask them what they have been up to since you last spoke. Ask them about mutual friends and family members. Take the time to let them talk and be a good listener.
Once the conversation turns to you, then be prepared to share. Make sure that you are direct and honest and tell them about your situation. Be prepared to share your marketing plan and fill them in on the details of your situation.
The Coffee Meeting Agenda
Now you have taken the first step by calling one of your contacts and setting up a time to meet over lunch, coffee, or a pre-scheduled phone conversation. Now what? Here is a rough agenda to help you get the most out of these meetings and don’t forget to have fun!
Ice breaker conversation– 5-10 minutes
- Catch-up on common interests, friends and family.
Discussion/Update about your contact– 15-20 minutes
- Catch-up on your contact’s career progression since you last spoke. Be a good listener and ask questions that help them tell their story.
Discussion/Update about your job search– 5-10 minutes
- Share your marketing plan and bring them up to speed on your career progression since you last spoke. Tell them about your job search.
Ask Opinion/Assistance/Referrals– 10-15 minutes
- Ask your contact for feedback on your strategy, possible target companies, contacts, etc. Ask if they are aware of any open positions that would align with your marketing plan. Then, ask them if they know anyone who might be able to help you and ask if they would mind providing referrals.
However, now is the time to reach out to everyone in your world. Most people really want to help. Your Marketing Plan can help direct these discussions, but it is up to you to ask specific questions that provide actionable answers.
Asking for Opinions:
If your contact has experience working with a target company on your list, ask them specific questions about working with or for that company, strategies, corporate structure and culture, etc.
Asking for Assistance:
Using your marketing plan as your guide and given your professional objectives, competencies, target market and company list, ask your contact if there are any other companies that you should be considering.
Asking for Referrals:
Building on opinions and assistance in targeting specific companies, ask your contact who they might know at these companies that might able to help provide further information or assistance. Ask if they would mind providing a referral or facilitating an introduction.
Everyone is busy these days and time is precious. Realize that every minute someone gives you is a gift. Make sure you are appreciative. Say thank you and ask how you can return the favor.
When you ask someone to meet you for coffee or invite them to lunch ALWAYS pick up the tab.
When you are calling a prospect to set up a meeting be sure to ask the question, “Do you have your calendar handy?” Always wait for the other person to respond first even if this creates an awkward silence. The first person that speaks loses in this instance. If they say no, ask them if they could please get it out. Once they have acknowledged that they have their calendar politely suggest a couple of dates and times.
As you review your prioritized list of contacts, you will most likely not have all of the contact information that you need for each person. You need to become a detective and do some research to get the latest contact information for the people in your network. The good news is that it is easier than ever to get this information these days.
Here is how it is done:
- Use Your Network to locate the detailed contact information.
- Use LinkedIn to find where your most relevant contacts are currently working.
- Use Google to look up the phone number of the company.
- Use LinkedIn to send them an invitation to reconnect.
When calling a company to reconnect with a person on your contact list, use the Reconnect Phone Script, to prepare for the call. (Item 15 in the Career Handler Tool Kit)
As you identify new decision makers, look for connections to people in your immediate network. These individuals can then be used to help you connect with the decision makers. Before you ask a connection to introduce you to a decision maker, it is best to reconnect with your contact first to reestablish that relationship.
Connecting with a decision maker on LinkedIn can be the ultimate icebreaker. Make sure to take note of previous companies and colleges to establish common ground. These details show that you care about the contact and that helps you build the rapport to create a relationship.
It helps you keep track of each person that you contact. The Contact Sheet and the numbered tabs in your binder are a low-tech, high-touch system that is always on and ready for you. If you are disciplined in using this system, you are able to easily keep track of:
- When, who and how you need to follow up
- What your next step should be
- Who referred you
- Details that are important to the relationship
Use the Contact sheet to track your follow-up activity. Write the follow-up activity in the section at the bottom of the form and file it in the binder under the numbered tab that corresponds to the day you plan to follow up.
As you begin to create contact sheets, your binder will become quite full. As you schedule follow-ups, be sure to enter them into your calendar. Your calendar provides you with the global view of your agenda for the day. The contact sheets and the tabs in your binder supplies the details you need to get the most out of your calls and follow-ups.
When you record and schedule follow-up activities with your contacts make sure you note the specific follow-up activity and date on the contact sheet. File the contact sheet in your binder under the numbered tab that corresponds to the day you have the scheduled follow up.
Here’s How it Works:
- Identify a person you want to contact from your Contact Tracking Log.
- Write the date you contacted an individual on the Contact Tracking Log (Far right column labeled “Contacted”).
- Fill out a Contact Sheet and all the information you have for that person. Once you have completed the sheet, schedule the date to contact them and place the Contact Sheet under the corresponding tab in your 3-ring binder. Don’t forget to make sure you have scheduled time on your calendar to make calls on that same day.
- Attempt to contact that person. If you are unsuccessful in reaching that person on the scheduled day, re-file the sheet under the following day’s tab and try again. Follow the process until you connect with them.
Therefore, responding to job advertisements should be your second strategy for finding a job. According to job seekers, responding to job advertisements can be one of the most frustrating aspects of a job search. This is because most employers will not respond. Therefore, it’s not uncommon to send out 30 or 40 resumes with no response! Now that’s frustrating and depressing so proceed to this method with caution. Be sure that your expectation for a low response rate is in check.
Job advertisements can come from a variety of sources such as internet job boards, company postings, newspapers, and email alerts. Here are some tips that will help you keep your responses from disappearing into the “black hole.”
- Apply to only 3-5 positions per week – Be very picky about the types of positions you apply for and only select those roles that match up exactly with your position objectives. If you apply for more than 5 positions per week, you will spend most of your time following up on job leads and lose productivity in your search.
- Follow-up on each job advertisement using multiple methods – Don’t just send your resume and expect a response. Be aggressive in following up with the job opportunity. Your goal should be to identify the company and decision maker and submit your credentials to multiple people within the hiring organization. You should not only send your resume through the job ad, but also try to send it to people that are already employed by the company.
- Use your existing network to identify insiders and decision makers – If you apply for a position, get serious about leveraging your network for an internal connection. It will most likely only take a couple of great connections to get you past all the other job applicants and stand out from the crowd.
- Only apply to companies and positions that support your story – Be selective and choose companies and positions that will see value in your specific background and experience. It is highly unlikely you will receive a positive response if you apply to positions outside of your scope of experience.
You make contact with people, share your value, identify new target companies that fit your criteria, get leads, and schedule interviews, which ultimately lead to employment offers. Consider the prospecting circle in the context of your search.
There are two types of people: people you know and people you don’t know. If you have a target company where you have no contacts, then you will need to try to establish some new connections.
Use every tool in your arsenal to find contacts in that company. Reach out to your network as well as friends and family members to see if they know any insiders or decision makers. Use Jigsaw.com, Reference USA, and LinkedIn to find contacts. Search LinkedIn for people in your immediate network that can introduce you to people who work for that company on your target list.
Presenting in your job search will take on many forms. You may be presenting yourself in a one-on-one or group meeting. Or, it could be that you are delivering your elevator speech to a new person you met at the grocery store. Either way, you are selling yourself so be prepared. Here are some of the ways you will present.
Meeting with your Existing Network
We started the presentation process with Trial Run meetings with a few trusted people in your immediate network. These meetings are intended to get you back into networking and get a little constructive critique in the process. You were reconnecting with people and leading with your marketing plan to direct the meeting and clearly communicate what you are looking for. Let’s review the goals of these meetings:
- Practice sharing your story and gain confidence
- Receive feedback on your strategy
- Obtain leads, ask for 3-5 leads and follow up
- Creating an instant advocate, get recommended
Now is the time to continue this process of meeting with people in your network. Your confidence will grow as you land meetings moving out into your network. As this process begins you will now find yourself meeting with both your existing network and new referred contacts: the people you know and the people you will soon know.
Meeting vs. Interview
Let’s take a moment to clarify the difference between a meeting and an interview. Meetings are mutual exchanges of information and work sessions designed to achieve a pre-defined purpose. The person calling the meeting should clearly state the objectives and direct the agenda to achieve the desired outcome. Typically, you will be soliciting and scheduling meetings so it is up to you to direct the meeting outcome.
Interviews are meetings called by potential employers for the express purpose of screening candidates for employment. You may stumble into an interview while trying to schedule a meeting, but the company is in control of the agenda in an interview and that agenda is focused on assessing your qualifications and suitability for employment at their company.
There are some subtleties associated with various types of meetings that occur in the progression to a formal interview.
Networking/Group Meetings are meetings that can have anywhere from 5 to 500 people in them. They are usually sponsored by an association or organization. You may be addressing one person or a small group in a social or professional setting. The objective here is to share your elevator speech and clearly communicate who you are, what you do, and what you are seeking. Your goal is to develop new contacts and target companies with the potential outcome of these turning into job opportunities. You should try to connect with as many new contacts as possible during any one networking event.
One-on-one meetings are exactly what the name implies. These are meetings that you schedule with an individual either on the phone, at their office, or in a public setting. The one-on-one meeting is more intimate and allows you to go into greater detail about your story. Depending on the context of the meeting, you may share your marketing plan or you may simply talk through your search objectives. Either way, the objective is to present yourself, share your story, and tell the other person what you do and what you are looking for. Once again the goals in a one-on-one meeting are the same, get leads to new contacts and target companies.
The difference here is that a one-on-one meeting provides you with a greater opportunity to connect with the other person. Therefore, these meetings stand a better chance of leading to a recommendation.
Do some research about the person with whom you are connecting or re-connecting. This helps you build rapport and ask intelligent questions about their current position and company. Remember, be a good listener. Once you have connected, share your story and what you are looking for and don’t be shy about asking for leads. This is one of the primary purposes of the meeting and they know it.
Phone interviews are classically used to screen candidates for job interviews. You may have come to the interviewer’s attention through an application process or direct recommendation. They will most likely have seen your resume and this interview serves as an opportunity to connect with you on a more direct level.
If you have a phone interview scheduled make sure you practice your “Tell Me About Yourself speech” and “Success Stories.”
Try to avoid an unscheduled phone interview. It is best to try to schedule meetings in advance, get a job description and do your research.
This is usually a chance to present your personality and attitude. The interviewer is listening for the attributes that could indicate that you could be a good fit for the role and company culture. Interviewers are listening for good communication skills, the ability to establish rapport and a positive attitude.
We have covered the cyclical steps required to identify opportunities and land meetings that can lead to interviews, now it is time to focus our attention on preparing for actual interviews. “Acing” an interview is no different than “Acing” a test. They both require that you do your homework and study the material.
Research, Research, Research
If you have been following the system and collecting information on the companies on your Target Company List, preparing for an interview with one of these companies becomes a lot easier. You have already collected information about the company that can serve as a foundation for your research. When you land an interview, refer back to your research and make sure that you have up-to-date information about the company including:
- The company’s position in the market and key competitors
- Challenges and opportunities
- Recent press releases and news items of interest
Conduct your company research as if you were considering investing in the company, because in reality you are. If the company is public, review their most recent annual report and especially the letter to the shareholders by the CEO. Being able to reference relevant information from an annual report or press release during an interview can be pretty impressive. It proves that you are motivated enough to do your homework and are plugged-in and ready to engage.
It is also a good idea to plug-in the company name into a couple of internet search engines. You may be able to uncover some relevant information that can be used in your interview.
Always research the people that will be interviewing you. When the interview is scheduled, make sure to ask how many different people you will be meeting and what their roles are in the organization. Look these people up on LinkedIn and Google and fill out a contact sheet on them (if you haven’t already). Make sure to include key points that will help you build rapport and understand their relationship to the role for which you are being interviewed. After the interview, update the contact sheet and schedule your follow-ups.
⬜ Set up and attend 6-8 meetings per week (maintain a mix of one-on-one and group meetings)
Interviews are about making a personal connection with the interviewer so after the interview they remember liking you and trusting you have what it takes to do the job.
The more skilled the interviewer the more strategic the questions become. Sometimes the interviewer’s strategy and what they are really trying to learn by asking the question has little to do with the actual content of your answer. We explored this concept during our Self Assessment phase in Chapter 3 when we discussed the real purpose of the million-dollar question, “So Tell Me About Yourself.”
Who really knows what to expect when you are preparing for an interview. The styles vary depending upon the person and business you are engaging. What is important is that you continue to reflect back on your story and the components of your Success Stories, Elevator Speech and “So, tell me about yourself”. You will most likely have to repeat the components of each with everyone you meet.
During an interview you will also be judged by the questions that you ask. Your questions may actually be more revealing than your answers to the questions that your interviewers have prepared for you. Your inquiries will demonstrate the research you have done on the position and how you think.
When you are asked at the end of the interview if you have any questions, you should have a list of carefully prepared questions to ask. A good rule of thumb is to have a list of thoughtful general and job related questions. If you will be meeting with more than one interviewer you should also prepare to have a question or two that are specific to the roles of the other interviewers and how they might interact with the position in question.
Exchange business cards with each interviewer that you meet. Getting their business cards will ensure that you have the appropriate contact information to launch your follow-up campaign.
Interview Questions you Can and Should Ask
- If I were hired and started next week, what would you like me to accomplish in my first ninety days? First year?
- How will performance and success be measured for this role? (What does success look like?)
- I have read about the company’s goal to (list a corporate goal from your research) are there any other important challenges or goals you can share? And/or how does that relate to your department?
- How do you see this position supporting the achievement of those goals?
- Is this a new or existing position? If existing, what did you like/dislike about how the previous employee performed? If new, why was it created? (If not obvious)
- What are the prospects for growth and advancement? What is your thought regarding a career path within the organization from this position?
- Can you describe a typical workday for this role? If it is not obvious, who does this position report to and who are the people this role typically interacts with?
- How would you describe your culture? What is it like to work for the organization?
- What do you like most?
- What would you like to change?
- What is your expected timeline for making a decision to fill this position?
- You should also have a list of 5 questions that are specific to the position and 3 questions that are specific to the person that is interviewing you.
There are plenty of inappropriate questions that you should avoid. Avoid obvious questions that you could have easily been discovered by conducting research. Avoid questions relating to benefits, vacation policies, and alternative work situations such as telecommuting and job sharing until the progression reaches a further stage.
When you ask an obvious question, it screams to the interviewer that you didn’t do your research. The questions below may not be appropriate in a first meeting, but certainly could be up for discussion in a 2nd or 3rd interview as you move into the details of the position.
- What are the work hours?
- How many sick days do I get?
- How many weeks leave do I get?
- How long is the lunch break?
- Are the working hours flexible?
Although corporate culture and the challenges of the modern work place have led to more relaxed dress code standards, it is still best to err on the side of conservatism when you are dressing for an interview.
We always recommend wearing a suit and tie or suit separates. If the hiring manager that you will be meeting with tells you not to wear a suit and tie because it is casual Friday and he will be in jeans and a T-shirt, take his advice. Nevertheless, dress a level above and wear casual slacks, a sport shirt and a blazer.
Many of the creative and IT driven industries may promote more progressive, style conscious, or casual environments, so once again, it pays to do your homework. If the company has an informal corporate culture and dress code, always dress to the upper end of that scale. If you decide to wear a suit and tie and an interviewer comments that you didn’t have to do that, smile and nod your head and say, “I know.” If they decide not to hire you because you were over dressed for the interview then it probably wouldn’t have been a good fit anyway.
The devil is in the details and that also holds true for personal hygiene. Now is a good time to get out the tweezers and trimmers and clean up the hair in your nose and ears and never underestimate the power of a breath mint.
A word of caution to smokers, we highly recommend that you refrain from smoking before an interview. These days, smoking can be a politically charged topic that begs questions ranging from work habits and ethics to personal health. It is best to stay away from even the smell of this topic in an interview.
When dressing and accessorizing your outfit for an interview, less is more. If an item distracts the interviewer or draws attention away from your face, don’t wear it.
For ladies that have a tattoo on the foot that will show if wearing standard hose and business pumps, wear dark hose and a pants suite or investigate cover-up make up on a first interview. You just don’t want to give an interviewer any reason not to like you.
Some of the more creative or progressive IT driven industries may dictate more relaxed standards, but it is always best to play it safe in these instances.
Any good salesperson will tell you that a presentation meeting only marks the beginning of the sales cycle. The real battle is won through follow-up that creates a connection with the prospect, demonstrates engagement and proves that you want the business, in this case, the job. A job interview is the same. Following up demonstrates your interest in a job, so please don’t miss this incredible opportunity to differentiate yourself from the pack.
After a meeting or interview, you should follow-up immediately. If you meet with multiple individuals at the same company, make sure that you follow-up with each person individually. If you really want to stand out of the crowd in your job search, you will make following up a part of your daily routine in your search.
You call one of your contacts and set up a one on one meeting or pre-scheduled phone call. After the meeting, you follow up and send an email expressing thanks. You also write a handwritten thank you note and mail it through the post office. A week later, you follow up with a phone call. Your goal is to check in with them and determine if they have any additional leads or thoughts that would be helpful in your search. If they had suggested a referral, you should be sure to have received their contact information.
Additionally, you will include them on your monthly email update that relates to your job search progress. Every month thereafter, it would be wise to follow up with them in some form: email, fax, phone, mail to stay top of mind. A similar follow up schedule should also be applied to sources/insiders and decision makers.
Following-up with your network typically lasts during the entire time you are in your job search. It is important that you use multiple methods to follow up attempting to add value each time. Following-up on a consistent basis may seem a little awkward, but it is the only way your contacts know you are still looking for a job. And that is exactly why it works. Remember the old saying “out of sight, out of mind.” We don’t ever want that to be you!
You want to continue to demonstrate the value that you can bring to the organization, so continue to research your industry and target your company list looking for items of interest that can spark discussion or provide a valuable point of interest. Get creative in the manner in which you follow up. There are many different sources that you can utilize to collect information that can be valuable in your follow up. Here are a couple of examples to use:
Google Alerts - Set Google alerts (www.google.com/alerts ) for your target companies, their products, competitors and relevant keywords. Doing this alone, may provide a lot of news and content that could then be forwarded to some of your contacts. Make sure to add comments and pose relevant questions where appropriate.
Business periodicals and news articles- Make copies of relevant articles in newspapers, magazines, and industry publications that directly relate to business events that impact your target companies’ business interests. These articles can provide a great insert to a follow-up thank you card or create an excellent “excuse” to send a timely follow-up letter.
Company press releases- Frequent the newsrooms on the web sites of your target companies and their competitors. Look for the latest releases that directly impact your discipline and the division within the company that you are targeting and forward links to these releases in your strategically timed email follow-ups.
Here is the great news! You will get a job! We just don’t know how long it will take. Your job search could last a couple of weeks or a couple of months. However long it takes, you should only focus on those things that you can control. We have provided you with a systematic approach to your job search. It is now your job to execute and do the best you can marketing and selling your value to your next employer.
Here is a list of the top 10 things you should focus on to survive your job search.
- People hire people – computers don’t. Do your best to focus at least 75% of your time networking with your circle of influence and sharing your marketing plan with as many people who are willing to listen.
- Use a contact management system - what, how, when, where, and who to follow up with is something you should not have to worry about in your job search. A contact management system solves this problem.
- Resume perspective – rethink about how you use your resume from a “door opener” to a “leave behind”. Use only 1 version of your resume to maintain simplicity and focus.
- Network with a purpose – always focus on getting yourself closer to the decision maker. Use and engage your existing network in your personal job search. Consistently ask your network who they know that hire people like you.
- Don’t go it alone – don’t be the lone ranger on your job search. Team up with someone in your network that will hold you accountable.
- Attitude is everything – fake it if you have too! Be positive and speak the language of success…begin to visualize yourself in your new job.
- Follow up – on everything and leave no stone unturned. If someone offers a referral, follow up and get that information. Don’t wait for someone to call you, it will never happen.
- Manage your time wisely – use your calendar to stay focused on the important tasks of your job search. Maintain an active “To-do” list and prioritize your work based on importance.
- Use the phone – pick up that 500 lb. gorilla called “the telephone” and call your contacts to advance your search. Don’t hide behind email because it’s easier.
- Celebrate the small successes – each small victory is huge! Aim to achieve a small victory everyday and your job search will be a short one.
⬜ Apply to 3 – 5 new positions per week that match up with the goals of your job search
⬜ Add 15-20 new contacts and 1-2 new decision makers to your job search every week
⬜ Set up and attend 6-8 meetings per week (maintain a mix of one-on-one and group meetings)
⬜ Follow up consistently with your contacts to stay top of mind
⬜ Stay focused on the top 10 things to survive your job search
⬜ ACCEPT NEW JOB!!!