Job search, I’ve often said on this blog, is a business process. Jobseekers should set a goal and then make a strategic plan to get results. This week, the speakers—mainly recruiters–at a webinar I attend reminded the audience about the value of planning. Among other things, they reminded us that jobseekers should:
- Decide what problem or challenge they solve,
- Set a salary goal,
- Search for companies, not jobs,
- Develop call and meeting scripts,
- Put many “irons in the fire,” and
- Do not give up too soon.
As always, this is not an exhaustive list of ideas. Explore them, try these ideas, and let us know what works for you via LinkedIn or email.
What problem or challenge do you solve?
Most of us begin a job search with our target job title. Another way to think about the issue is to plan on talking about what business problem or challenge you solve when speaking with prospective employers and industry contacts. For example, instead of saying you are an Ios and Android app developer, tell those you speak with about the kinds of financial technology, or FinTech, challenges your apps solve. What makes your solutions unique? Job titles can mean different things in different organizations, so an industry contact or prospective employer may recognize your value more rapidly when you promote yourself as a problem-solver.
What price will you ask for your problem-solving services?
We are marketing our services—app development, customer service, etc.—when we seek work, so think about the price you will charge for this work. That is, of course, the salary or wage you want to earn. You probably have a good idea what you should earn in your next job based on industry experience. If you don’t know, there are a number of websites, such as Glassdoor and LinkedIn that can help you.
Some states have salary transparency laws that require many private-sector employers to post salary ranges in job announcements. The list of states and municipalities with these rules may increase, so be sure to check whether such laws apply in the city and state where you are seeking work.
The salary or wage you are offered may differ from the compensation you set your sights on as you start planning. The important thing is that you think about the question and have a range in mind when the discussion comes up during the networking and interviewing process.
Search for companies, not jobs.
A traditional job seeking strategy is to search by job title. Who is posting jobs for customer service reps, app developers, etc., today? But experts tell us this strategy does not work. That’s because up to 80% of posted jobs are unavailable. And perhaps three-quarters of the jobs that are available have not been posted. So, a variety of experts such as Dr. Dawn Graham in her book, Switchers, and Steve Dalton, in his book, The 2-hour Job Search, recommend searching for companies that want someone like you to address their business challenges.
This approach gives you an opportunity to scour your lists of personal contacts, in addition to your LinkedIn network for people that work in those companies or people who can refer you to employees in your target companies.
In fact, start developing your list or database of companies that may want to use your expertise before you have to seek employment. In other words, to quote another book, “dig your well before you are thirsty.” Most of us remember that friend or former co-worker from 20 years ago that found our phone number or email address when they needed a job. While some people are friends forever even when they have not kept in touch, others leave us feeling we’ve been used. Stay in touch with your network so you are not the person doing this.
Develop call and meeting scripts.
Once you have identified the business challenge you will solve, and have your lists of companies and potential contacts, you may want to start preparing for calls and meetings. You will be a salesperson of sorts during this phase, so it is time to prepare sales materials, sometimes called sales collateral.
Of course, you should have a resume, LinkedIn profile, and job search letters ready to go. While it is tempting to do this in parallel with your outreach to industry contacts and employers, we suggest you do this first. You may come across someone who is prepared to consider you for an opportunity, so you should be ready to point them toward a fully built-out profile and submit a resume.
Additionally, have marketing scripts ready. Script-out an “elevator pitch” for use in voicemail messages and short conversations. You may also wish to script-out longer introductions for use in networking meetings and job interviews. A sales trainer I spoke with several years ago believed all successful salespeople worked from scripts.
Scripts are especially useful for cold calls and cold emails. Salespeople may make dozens, hundreds, or even more cold contacts before landing a sale, so don’t give up after just a few calls. A client did a cold resume mailing to more than 1700 employers and landed a job, so this strategy can work. But don’t use it as your only strategy.
Keep “many irons in the fire.”
A mistake I’ve seen is pursuing one job at a time. For example, a job club participant I worked with spent each week trying to reach one industry contact, or applying for one specific job. Each week he came back to our meetings disappointed at the lack of results. Meanwhile, other participants who pursued many leads and contacts each week landed interviews and even got jobs. Those that did not have interviews and offers to report had opportunities to look forward to.
Statistically, the chances that any contact will yield results can be small, so pursue as many opportunities as your schedule permits.
Do not give up too soon.
Plan to keep going with your job search until you achieve results. Try multiple strategies, and give each one a chance to work. You may need to make dozens of calls to industry contacts to get one meeting scheduled. And you may have to send out many resumes to companies that interest you before you get interviews. But experience shows that you will get results when you don’t give up.