I regularly talk with people who are struggling with job hunting. Months have gone by and they still haven’t got a job offer, and not surprisingly are losing motivation and getting despondent.
The first question I ask them is what they are looking for. But they can’t be specific, they are too general, they tell me they are looking for something interesting and pays at least a certain amount.
But it is far too vague, for me, and anyone else to help them.
When I then ask them about their job search approach I find that they are taking a scatter gun approach, sending off their CV to any and all jobs that even remotely matches their background.
Stop, take a break from job hunting, and start again
I ask them to take a week off job hunting and then to start their job search afresh.
During this week off they are to remove their CV from every on line site and to concentrate on identifying what they want to apply for now, and to be much more specific.
Whilst some clients will work through career discovery sessions with me, with others I’ll suggest they use websites to find out more about different jobs.
As they narrow things down they can review job descriptions and see which jobs they both are interested in but also they are likely to be successful at, they have relevant skills and experience, which may have been gained through voluntary work. They then get a better focus to their job hunting.
Job Hunting Tip 1: Be clear why an employer should choose you
It’s essential to understand why any employer would want to offer you the job. What can you offer that differentiates you from others applying for the job. It could be knowledge, experience, personality, something outside of work, your work ethic … you need to know why you,
Job Hunting Tip 2: Taking a direct approach works, and LinkedIn makes it easy
Now you know the type of work you want to do you can find companies you would like to work for using LinkedIn’s advanced search. From this, taking account of location you can identify around 15-20 organisations that you would like to work for. They may not have vacancies, but not all jobs are advertised.
Find out who you know already that works with these companies, the more connections you have the greater your chance of being connected.
Use LinkedIn to identify who runs these departments or who used to run them, ideally you want to network with the people who used to work for these companies. They will be more open to answering specific questions about the department, the company and the challenges. Tell them you are doing some research.
Follow the organisations, you will now get to see the names of people who are currently employed by the organisation.
Run a search on a target company to get a list of employees, also search on past team members to see where they are currently employed.
Job Hunting Tip 3: Connect with current employees by sending a personalised request, explain why you are interested in their company and including something of interest TO THEM!
You are then beginning a conversation
Ask to set up an informational/ fact-finding meeting of about 20-30 minutes. Don’t ask them about a job, concentrate on finding out more about them, their work, why they like the organisation and any advice they can offer. The person you spoke to, to gather research may contact their ex-boss, that’s great as the person in the company you want to speak to will be more receptive to your call.
You can then approach a hiring manager in one of the organisations that you want to work for and tell them they you know their problems, and can help. Ask to meet to talk.
Stay in touch, send a thank you note, send them articles of interest and keep them informed over your progress and how you have put their advice into practice.
This approach can take time, you aren’t going to get to an interview in a matter of weeks but you will be developing a relationship with someone who works within the organisation and when a job opening comes up they can make a personal recommendation to the hiring manager.
Without LinkedIn you will come across as unprepared, recruiters expect you to be on LinkedIn and this combines networking (the old) and social media (the new). It also allows you to be found, and once found by recruiters or others you want to move these online connections offline – you want to get meetings.
You want to be found and you want to move LinkedIn is like a 1st interview – employers will read your profile, look at your connections, who has given you a referral, who you have given referrals too, so write recommendations for previous bosses and thought leaders.
They check your picture, and without it they my move on.
They then read your headline – does it grab their attention? This one would
Director of IT/Project Manager/Programme Manager – ask me how I saved a Fortune 50 company from losing $3,900,000
Include your contact details, in the summary you can make it easy by including your phone number.
Recruiters may even get in touch with your connections before contacting you.
Job Hunting Tip 4: Continue to research
Keep up to date with changes in the industry with Google alerts, follow the organisations that interest you, stay in touch with your new contacts.
Job Hunting Tip 5: Also use Twitter
Do a search for everyone doing the job you want – e.g. project manager and connect with them, you’ll get their tweets and can then retweet, and will soon be seen as an expert and thought leader on relevant topics.
Applying to a job ad
When you find a job to apply for make good use of the research you have undertaken to refine your CV. You can also get in touch with the people you know within the organisation and ask them to speak with the hiring manager, making favourable comments about you.
Sending a direct approach (pitch) letter
You can wait for jobs to be advertised but you can also make a direct approach to the hiring manager within the organisations that you want to work for. You don’t send a letter to the HR department but you send it to the person who would be your manager.
When you get shortlisted
All the research you have undertaken can also be used at the interview. You can ask questions about the challenges facing the organisation and demonstrate you have done some competitor analysis.
Once you get the job offer
Stay in touch with all your contacts, it is always easier to get help from others when you are regularly in touch and also look for ways to help them too.