The process of finding a job is not easy. Well…maybe the process is easier than actually getting a job offer but as a whole, being out of work is not a fun experience. I have always been told that it’s easier to find a job when you already have one, truth be told, I have never looked for a job when I already had one. Is that a flaw I need to address or should I just accept that when I work for a company, I should be happy and do my job. I’ve only worked at one place in the past 10 years that I actually didn’t like. Isn’t that the point, Be in a job that you enjoy?
I made this status update because at the end of the day, I find myself selling “me” to every company I come across. The process of finding a job runs parallel to just about any sales/marketing job I have been a part of. Marketing, prospecting, conversations and conversion. These are what I think lay the foundation for any career or career search.
It’s almost a tale as old as time. What came first, the chicken or the egg? Would sales exist without marketing? When I was a new sales guy, I bought into the ideology that sales drove everything. Without sales, marketing wouldn’t have a clue. Over the years as I assumed more marketing roles, that paradigm has changed for me. As much as I believe that sales is the lifeblood of a company, a sale is only initiated after some form of marketing. You could be selling the most brilliant, shiny, revolutionary product in the world but unless you tell people about it, no one will ever be interested.
The same is true during a job search. This is the whole point of a resume right? Have a neat 8.5×11 piece of paper that tells an employer who and what you are. That’s job hunting 101. As important as it is to have a resume, you can’t leave your marketing to only that sheet of paper. You need to go places where employers are looking for employees and get your voice heard. This is why Monster.com has a value of $1.6 Billion dollars. But is Monster going to be the end all, be all of finding a job? I doubt it. You need to do more, marketing yourself to companies and people directly and not rely so much on a job board to dump a new position in your lap. Use Twitter, Facebook, what ever other channels you can to get the word out and look for great jobs. I find myself spending hours a day with 8 tabs open of LinkedIn postings, applying for jobs, contacting recruiters and in some cases even emailing the VP or CEO of a company directly just to get some dialog started. If you have awards or materials that showcase your work, like a portfolio, be ready to share that by adding links in your resume or some other way to get copies on demand. The point is to get as much good information as possible out “there” so the people looking for staff can get to know you before having to make the call.
When you’re looking for a new job, you need to have a baseline idea of what you want to do. In the same way when you’re a sales person trying to track down new leads. After your marketing has started, you should get a few nibbles and maybe even a bite from a company that is looking for someone that can do what you do. Unless this company offers you the job sight unseen (which you should be wary of anyway), you should have a better idea of what other companies you should be talking to. Using me as the example, I know I have a strong story to tell in the disaster recovery space. Starting to contact people in other backup, disaster recovery companies is an easy decision to make. I already know who most of the players are and its just a matter of looking them up and seeing if they have any openings or finding a gap I can fill with my skills. Social media is a great place to look for companies. I go through a process I wrote about earlier called “Finding a job on LinkedIn“. One of the nice things about LinkedIn is that you can see who is looking at your profile. Between LinkedIn and a couple emails from recruiters, I started seeing that I was getting looked at by PR companies. I thought it was weird at first but it makes perfect sense. At Paragon I was the face for the company in the US. I talked with the media during product launches, built a working social media model for the company and even had a chance to get published in a few cases. I added PR agencies to my prospecting list.
If you did the first two steps right, you should get on the phone with someone. Sales people sell widgets and I’m selling me. Like most sales calls, you probably aren’t talking to the decision maker at first. Either a recruiter or someone else in the company that weeds out the riff-raff and you have a chance to give your pitch. You really should be ready for this call, meaning that you should have done some decent research on the company before the phone rings. I set up folders in FireFox, name them for each company and drag bookmarks for the position listing, website, maybe a news headline, whatever else you may want on a minutes notice to go through on the call. Sure it sounds like a lot of work but it’s a lifesaver and could make the difference between being another person looking for a job or being remarkable.
I accept the reality that I probably won’t get the first job I actually get a formal interview for. I’m not looking to close the sale on the first pass. If I was selling widgets then sure, that’s the plan but I’ve only got one thing to sell (me) and it goes to the right buyer. Writing that makes me feel picky but I wouldn’t go work at McDonald’s either and that’s how I justify it. All you need to do is convert it into an opportunity and build your pipeline. You don’t need or want a 6-9 month pipeline, just have enough that you can make a better decision than taking the first job because it was the ONLY job. So if you have two in your pipe that may be enough but be ready to go through the process some more. If the opportunity is right and this is what you want then go for it, give them everything they need to see that you are the right person for the job.