Archive for October, 2010

People Want to Help Your Job Search, But YOU Need to Let Them Know How!

A point I continuously make to encourage job seekers to network with as many people as they possibly can is this;essentially, people want to help you. Every one of us has known a close friend or colleague that has experienced an unexpected job loss and wanted to do whatever we could to assist in their securing a new job. Unfortunately, too often the job seeker takes for granted that a colleague who has offered to help instinctively knows how to help them. In reality, most either don’t know many specifics on how to help or could use more guidance from the job seeker as to ways to assist. So, before you the job seeker become frustrated at people that promised to help you but haven’t come through, make sure that you have provided them with the following information:   

What You Are Looking For. Don’t assume people know as much about what you do and your areas of expertise as you think. This often leads to people giving inappropriate contacts or referrals, which frustrates you. But  if you don’t follow up, your referral source understandably feels hurt or unappreciated, and likely hesitate offering further assistance. Once someone has offered to help, providing him or her a copy of your résumé is an obvious first step. If you have a LinkedIn profile, share that as well. Also, outline the various titles of positions you typically apply for. Your contacts then have a better point of reference regarding people they might know in similar titles and fields they can refer you to.

Where You Are Looking. I recently received a great tip on this topic from Jason Alba, author of I’m on LinkedIn, Now What? He recommends to always keep the names several of your target companies on your mind. Then, whenever you discuss your job search with someone, identify some of these companies as places you hope to get a foot in the door at. That way, if your friend or colleague has a contact at one of the companies, they can provide you with it. Even someone outside or with little knowledge of you field may have contacts at certain companies and can easily make a referral.

How Your Search Is Progressing. In my book Networking for the Novice, Nervous or Naïve Job Seeker, one of the ongoing steps I recommend is to send your contacts periodic email updates regarding your job search. Outline specific jobs and companies applied to, interviewed at and interested in. (Jason Alba is also a big proponent of this). Doing so not only reinforces points made in the first two recommendations, but also serves to keep you and your search on colleagues’ radar screen. This increases the likelihood that when one comes across an appropriate contact or opportunity, they’ll associate it with you and try to make the connection. Include within the updates new information, stories and the like you have discovered throughout your search that may prove beneficial to the readers. Remember that networking works best when all parties benefit. As a job seeker speaking to many contacts in your field, you likely will come across a lot of information that may be of interest to your colleagues. If you discover something potentially beneficial to a particular contact, notify them in a private email immediately, reinforcing your willingness to help them as well.

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A Letter to Send When You Don’t Get the Job Offer You Really Hoped For

We have all heard many numbers related “rules of thumb” throughout our lives. To help write this post, I tried to look up a marketing ratio I’ve heard through the years- That’s that it takes an average of six contacts with a customer to make a sale. (According to Google Answers, the only research one could find that supports this particular number is a data piece from the Direct Marketing Association in the 1960’s). Regardless of the source, I have often used this ratio to discourage job seekers from crossing a highly desired company off their wish list once they interview for a position, but are not selected. Far too often, once a candidate finds out that a hiring decision will go in another direction, he or she mistakenly eliminates that company or agency from their target list and focuses elsewhere. Here again is where need to understand what sales and marketing professionals must learn in order to succeed. It often takes several contacts to land a sale. Just ask any sales professional you know how much success he would have had if he never followed up with potential customers that turned him down once.

The next time you’re a runner-up at for a job or company you really wanted, why not let the company or hiring manager know how impressed you were with the job, company and opportunity? Then add that you want to stay in touch to learn firsthand about future opportunities. How can you do that? Well, after a turn down, rather than being angry or feeling rejected, try drafting a letter similar to this:

Dear XX

I want to express my gratitude to you as well as (Company Name) for allowing me the opportunity to interview for the position of (XX). I came away from the experience with a highly positive impression of you, your company and the staff I met. The work you are doing is something I would love to be a part of at some point in my career. (Expand on particulars).

Obviously, I was disappointed by not receiving an offer. I wish you and the candidate you selected the best in a successful transition. I also want to try and stay in contact with you. Based on my impression of you and your company, I am certain you will have continued success and growth. With this most surely will come new opportunities. I hope that by staying in contact, I will be able to position myself to take advantage of future opportunities.

 I can cite countless instances where sending such a letter has resulted in a subsequent hire-sometimes even for the position one originally interviewed for, when an unforeseen development happened to the selected candidate. Each time I present the concept of such a follow up letter to a group, members can also cite examples where they have seen it succeed.                                                                                     

Employers know when they have had a difficult selection and enjoy knowing that their company has made a positive impression. Plus, the next time a need arises, it saves much time and expense to it with a candidate already screened and interviewed. Sending such a letter offers a great chance for a win-win result.