By: Don Oehlert
Managing Partner, eCareerCoaching.com
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– Richard Gray
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You’ll be the one helping them.
The title of this post may seem a bit weird.
Well, it was meant to be, so to catch your eye. Because we Americans are overwhelmed by an average of 3,000 advertising messages every day, we’ve become very adept at tuning out almost all of these messages.
Why am I bringing this up? How does this relate to job search process? This is a job search blog, right?
Simply put, your search depends on having the right person hearing the right message about you at the right time – for them.
How do you make this work, then?
Let’s draw up a quick scenario. You’re looking for a used car. You hear about a great salesperson, or how fair a friend or a relative was treated by Paul at Pete’s Pretty Good Used Cars. How do you almost automatically feel about that dealership? You’ll probably believe that it may be a good choice for you too, right? You were referred by a trusted source.
Same thing applies in job search. Your credentials will be much more likely to park in a good way through a referral. OK, so how do you best find a referral?
Here again, it’s easy. Have a good friend or relative introduce you to one of their good friends, that is somehow connected to a firm you want to know more about. When you have a quick, 20-minute Informational Interview with that person, they are getting to know you a bit better. Look at it this way. Your mutual connection speaks highly of you. They just experienced good things from you from this Informational Interview. That person can now add their feelings about you with that from your mutual friend, the original referral. That will make them feel better about referring you to their manager, maybe.
Let’s look at the reverse of that. You come to the Informational Interview with desperation in your voice and in your manner. You come to the Zoom meeting with a resume in hand, and sweat on your brow. You look like a wild animal, cornered.
In fact, this person, whom you’ve never met before, may now be a bit scared of you. At least they’ll be hesitant to hitch their wagon to your shirt tails.
The nutshell message I’m making here today is, you need to be positive and professional at all times in public, like Paul.
Even if you’ve just received a rejection letter. Or you just got laid off or if you just got fired. Before you go out there, make sure you’ve processed all of those (understandably) negative feelings. Get your spirit back on a level playing field before you mess up on a meeting that may be important to you.
There’s a native American saying that goes something like this:
“I feel as if I have two wolves fighting in my heart, grandfather. One wolf is the vengeful, angry, violent one. The other wolf is the loving, compassionate one.”
The grandson asks, “Grandfather, which wolf will win the fight in your heart?”
The grandfather places his hand on his heart and replies, “The one I feed.”
Make sure to feed the compassionate wolf, so your spirit is in balance when you represent yourself in public.
Speaking of presenting yourself in public, here are 10 points to consider for when you go on Informational Interviews:
- When you invite someone to an Informational Interview, make it close to their office
- And you buy the coffee!
- When you invite someone to an Informational Interview – only ask for 20 minutes
- If it goes beyond that timeframe, make sure it’s by their initiative, not yours
- Never take a resume with you to an Informational Interview
- Do not ask the interviewee for a job
- Prepare for a meeting with some interesting questions – no more than 5 or 6
- Have a well-written handbill (AKA a networking brief)
- If they ask you for a resume, let them know you’d like to make sure they have one that’s appropriate for a specific job in mind, and you’ll send it to them later
- Get a business card, so you’ll have their appropriate connection information
- Ask them if they know 2 or 3 other people you should speak with
- Follow that up with a request to have them email or call them with an introduction for you
If you go off this “beaten path,” you’re a hunter with a shotgun, firing it in all directions on a severely foggy day. If you hit anything meaningful, it will be pure luck, won’t it?
Referrals are very important in a job search, and can be the difference between landing a job and another week of searching. And if you make $100,000/year, the math tells you that another week of not working costs you $400 – that’s $50/hour.
Use those figures as motivation. They are not to be fear-inducing; rather to be considered as a means of deciding which activities are the most profitable for you. I submit that appropriate networking is the most profitable use of your time. Remember the Pareto Principle – AKA the “80/20 Rule.” If you’d heard that only about 2-5% of all jobs are filled by applying to jobs on the large job boards, that means that they are 95-99% unsuccessful. How do those odds sound?
You’re best served by a referral from a trusted source to a hiring manager with a problem you are uniquely qualified to solve.
Remember – when a person recommends you, they are putting their reputation on the line with yours. Make it a good one.
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