People often complain to me that they sent off six, eight or more job applications on the web and then say in an angry tone, “I never even got a response” My response is; No you won’t. Sitting in a comfortable chair with a big mug of tea whacking out applications on your PC is not how you get a job. Sitting there pressing buttons is comfortable but not efficient.
One of the most successful ways to secure a new job is through talking to people you know. This part of the job search process most people try to avoid altogether because they do not like opening up to their contacts and admitting that they want to move on from where they are or have been made redundant maybe they have just grown to dislike their job for one of many reasons.
When I suggest this part of the process the response, is usually ‘I don’t know many people of much importance’. But that doesn’t matter because your personal contacts cross all boundaries. Your local shop keeper’s brother or sister could be the HR manager in some large company. Better still they could be the MD. You just don’t know. So the message is, talk to everyone you know selectively and with tact.
There is a caution here as all the above is often referred to as Networking, but Networking means different things to different people.
Hard-nosed Professional Networking means phoning, calling, meeting business colleagues present and past and in a very focused manner sell yourself to them. They will hopefully refer you on to others who may be interested in your offerings. Or they may be impressed by what you have to say and talk business or better still, invite you to a formal interview.
In preparation for this, I hear people saying that they are practising their ‘elevator pitch’. Ouch! They’re what I ask? If you went into a shop to buy a beautiful plant for your front window and the shopkeeper came at you with an ‘elevator’ pitch, I suspect you would smile nicely and get out of the place – fast.
There is the saying, sell the sizzle – not the steak. In this context, when networking you must sell yourself as a person first before you get to the business part of the conversation. Clearly, this means you do not blast someone with your ‘elevator’ pitch within seconds of meeting them. No matter how well delivered it always comes across as pre-prepared, forced, false and insincere. A forceful elevator pitch doesn’t allow for an easy, friendly conversation. Worse still are the Networking events where you meet 10/20 or more people over an hour. When it all over, you ask yourself, what was the result of the event? You will probably have ten or twenty business cards in your hand and all from people that you can’t distinguish one from another.
While more and more employers are using job sites in their search for talented employees, most job seekers do not realise that making contact with acquaintances and friends and letting them know you are looking for a job is a route through which a large proportion of employment opportunities are secured.
So just who are these people?
They are all around you, they are people you know, but you just haven’t thought it through.
They could be:
– Personal Friends – Business Contacts, current or past – Friends – Friends or Team Mates in Sports – Family – Professional Associations – College Tutors – Referrals, etc.
Every one of these contacts will have their circle of friends to whom they will be happy to mention you if the opportunity arises. They will, however, only do so if you have made the proper approach.
But before you do stop for a moment and ask yourself do my friends and acquaintances really know what I do for a living? Sounds silly? Well, a question I often ask clients is if I met your Mother and asked her what you did for a living what would she say?
After a moment’s thought, 90% will say: ‘She probably wouldn’t be too sure or maybe would have no idea whatsoever’. The message is if your nearest and dearest doesn’t know what you do for a living, don’t presume how can you expect acquaintances and friends know. In their company you probably talk about everything under the sun except your work.
This is where you need to prepare in your mind a 20-second introduction (no elevator pitch please) even to those you know before you start your ‘networking’ conversation. Set the scene.
Remember you are now talking to friends and acquaintances, so the hard-nosed, high-pressure sell won’t work. Nevertheless, these people are as important as those in any networking event. The only difference is in this instance you meet them to ask their advice. Meet them, remind them what you do for a living, and tell them you are on the move, you have prepared a good C.V., and now you’re stuck. Say you don’t know to whom you should send it adding that ‘as soon as I saw you, I knew you would be a good person to ask for advice, as you know more about this kind of stuff than I do’.
You friends and acquaintances will be complimented that you went to them for help and even if they have no advice to offer it doesn’t matter. You have delivered the message: I am on the move. If and when an opportunity arises they will happily remember and recommend you. All this and you won’t have applied any pressure. They will remember you and be happy to recommend you if the opportunity arises.
In the course of doing this, you will be surprised at how many people you know that have had similar experiences and how willing they will be to help if they can.
So ask advice don’t ask for a job. It works.
Always be positive in your discussion most people are uncomfortable with pessimism or whingeing and always treat your contact with respect.
Continue doing this in a planned and structured fashion and at the same time carefully follow up on the Social Media, IrishJobs and others who carry an enormous amount of advertised jobs across all sectors.
Top Tips are provided by PCC, who provides professionally delivered, supportive and most importantly, successful career change and redeployment assistance to private clients from all sectors of Industry. Enquiries are welcome and treated in the strictest confidence. Tel: 01-2819056