So you’ve done your company research. You’ve defined your targets and done your due diligence on the ins and outs of the organization. You have a feel for the industry, organization, and the role(s) you want to pursue. What now?
Your goal in your career search is to talk to as many people as you can. Talking to people is the key to your success in your search. Here’s the formula:
Four Steps to Success:
- Identify a job you would like to explore
- Find someone doing that exact job right now
- Talk to them
For some this is the hard part. What I’d like to do is to take some of the anxiety out of the process and give you some guidelines for your conversations when you reach out to make those connections.
Preparation is key. It helps bolster your confidence and keeps you sharp when navigating these unfamiliar waters. In the Meet Up you did your research on the companies. Now you must look inward.
As a job seeker you are marketing your talents and skills. Whether you like it or not you are in the business of sales and you are the product. The sooner you embrace this the more fluid this process will be for you.
The first thing to understand is that everyone’s time is precious. You want to be respectful of that and if a contact is granting you an audience you need to be able to seek their advice and communicate your value in as clear and concise a manner as possible. How do you do that?
You need to have an elevator pitch. The elevator pitch is a short summary about yourself which contains the most valuable reasons why you offer something others do not. What are your proudest achievements? What can you speak most passionately about? Do some critical thinking about what makes you an exceptional candidate for your target industry/position. Your elevator pitch should be 25-45 seconds long and should be something you have well-rehearsed and at the ready should you ever need it. Hopefully it goes without saying that these passions and skills should be tailored to the industry you are seeking. Knowing your audience is an important part of this process.
Here’s a script you can follow when reaching out to new contacts:
Explain (a) who you are, (b) how you know them, © why you’re contacting them, and (d) what you want to happen next. Be straightforward, be direct, and remember to push hard for referrals, people you can talk to next. Broken down, here is the skeleton of a typical script for a thirty-second introduction:
Hello, __________. My name is __________. I was referred to you by __________. I’m interested in learning more about __________. I wonder if you would have a moment to share with me any advice, ideas, leads, and referrals.
Have questions prepared to jumpstart your discussions.
Here are some examples:
- Who succeeds in this job?
- Can you describe a typical day in this type of role?
- What challenges are people in these depts facing?
- What are ideal candidates doing? What talents do they possess?
- What are a few things that really drive results for the company?
- Is there anything you wish you knew going into the role that you’ve since learned that makes you better at your job?
It’s important not to be too rigid in your conversations. At the end of the day if someone is doing you the favor of giving you their time you want to make the experience as enjoyable for them as possible. You want them to like you and nobody likes someone who is just focused on themselves and their own needs.
Follow these rules for contacting people in your job search:
- Don’t ask them for a job.
- Know precisely what job you’re curious about.
- Favor open-ended questions; avoid yes-or-no queries.
- Assume everyone has some information that will be useful to you somehow.
- Remember that you want to connect to people with information, whether or not they have any power.
Hopefully this is helpful for framing the conversations you need to have in your search. Please feel free to comment and discuss.