The sales processes can take a variable length of time to be successful. I hear so often from people that they have had no success in their job search despite sending out many, many applications, but Research shows that on average you need to make contact 16 times before achieving your goal. The time taken to achieve success in job hunting is less about elapsed time of search in terms of days, weeks and months, its more about the number of times we approach companies.
Plan how you will target each ‘buyer’ – through face-to-face networking events, letters, phone calls, job applications for specific jobs, Twitter and LinkedIn approaches or a referral from someone who works there.
Face-to-face at networking events are probably the most daunting, but the benefits of attending these are so significant that it really is highly recommended. You will be ‘seen’ by people in the industry, it gives you practice at delivering your elevator pitch, you discover the sort of you will be asked in interviews and it will pull you out of your comfort zone. It’s an unusual and brave thing to do – most people will be impressed to find that you are doing this off your own bat and that you are proactive in getting your career off the ground.
Events that relate to your chosen industry take anywhere and everywhere. There will be conferences, awards, networking events, speeches, industry exhibitions etc. and very often these will be free.
Request a list of attendees and anything else that is available such as an agenda, as the aim of attending the event is to learn more about the industry and who operates within it, to meet as many of those people as possible and to collect their cards, to obtain as many referrals as possible and to connect with all the attendees afterwards to add to your list.
Approach people who are on their own or in twos rather than groups as this is easier. Introduce yourself and explain that you are here to find out more about the industry and to meet people who might be able to help you start a career in it. They’ll give you some advice and once they have done so, ask for their card. Sometimes you might be really lucky and they’ll tell you they are looking for someone! Before you move on to speaking to the next person, look at the cards or numbers you have been given and write on the back a few words so you remember who the person was and what they do so you remember. Networking takes a lot of courage and nerve but it will impress people and so is worth the effort.
Once you have obtained all your cards, get home and write it all up that same day. Do not take the easy route and just hand out all your cards to everyone. If you return from one of these events and have collected no cards, you will have nothing to follow up – you won’t remember who you have met and you won’t be able contact them.
Connect with those you have met on LinkedIn (that same day if possible, when you are fresh in their mind) and write a short note thanking them for their time and advice, asking them to bear you in mind for any suitable positions that might come up.
Follow them on Twitter if applicable, and when you have done, put a tweet up about how interesting you found the event and that it was great to meet them and mention their Twitter handle in your tweet. Hopefully as a result of this they will follow you back!
Some people prefer letters to emails and, without a doubt, if you want to contact someone senior you are much more likely to get your communication in front of them if you send a letter. Letters need to be more formal than emails, but broadly speaking say the same. Sign it personally in blue ink and address the letter to them personally and marked private and confidential.
Phone calls can be daunting but also can be so very productive that it really is worth your while overcoming any fears and just doing it! Now that you have sent an email and a letter, and maybe in some cases you might even have met the person by now at a networking event, you will have something tangible to refer to in your call. Write down what you want to say and rehearse it.
After the call it is important that you follow up with another email and after that a letter. Now that you have made those initial touch points you have to start building them up. Remember that quantity is important!
The process of applying for a job will vary considerably. Some ask for a letter to be submitted with your CV, some might want you to telephone, sometimes they may ask you to contact the recruitment agent they are using to fill the vacancy. The majority want you to apply online which means you follow a link and complete an online questionnaire. This can be tricky because the questions asked are so varied so it’s very important to get someone else to check it for you before you submit it to ensure that you have completed it all properly, and critically that your spelling and grammar are correct. Many employers put applications in the bin if they contain spelling mistakes and certainly those that put another employer name in because they have just cut and pasted the application from another one!
One of the most important things you need to get across in your application is what you can bring to the job and to the company. Once you have sent the application then the cycle starts again; email as a follow-up a week later, then a letter a week later then a phone call and so on.
Twitter is becoming more prolific in business and is a great way of selling yourself. Once you have followed relevant people, mention them in a tweet – say things like; “It was great to attend xxx event and to meet @xxx today”. If they follow you, you can message them privately via Twitter asking if it is OK to contact them via email, which they will then expect.
LinkedIn has over 300 million users and is a great way of contacting your target market. You can email them using InMail if you have it or you can ask to be connected if you have a mutual contact, and it’s a very professional way of making an approach.
Volunteering to help out with a department or with a new project is a great way of obtaining work experience. This may not be an option financially but if there is any way you can make this work then it is well worth making the sacrifice. If you can include in your communications that you are very happy to volunteer your services in order to learn and to demonstrate your worth, it could really help swing your application and will make your letters and emails that much more powerful.
Referrals from someone who already works at a company are incredibly powerful and can give you a massive head start, but do remember that people are protective of their own jobs and nervous about giving away any confidential information about their employer. Assure them that you will protect their confidentiality and under no circumstances disclose where the referral came from. Remember thereafter that if they do give you some information and a referral then you are in possession of confidential information and you owe that person a huge debt. There will be times where a personal visit – just turning up at the company reception – is very worthwhile. This is daunting and you will be out of your comfort zone but consider doing it anyway and not taking any rejection personally. Identify an area where a number of your chosen employers are based, and as with the networking, go out dressed for interview and armed with your CV and cards.
Have your elevator pitch ready and come across as professional – you will be amazed at how kindly you will be treated and the information you will be given. Be ready to interview! Receptionists are usually so helpful and you will find that more often than not they will do their best to help you.
So there we have it – a cycle of activities to lead you to the interview where you will close the ‘sale’. IT is then a simple task of applying the cycle of activities to each name on your list. Leave no more than one week between each activity, as this means that your contacts will all receive weekly communications from you until you either get a result. Searching for a new job is a huge task – a full time job in itself – but this cycle of contact will get you results.
It’s imperative that you do your follow-ups every week otherwise the value of your previous contact is reduced considerably. There really is no point in calling someone once or emailing them once if you are not going to follow up; they are no doubt very busy people and probably receive a lot of communications. Unless you contact them a number of times and consistently they will very quickly forget about you and your applications will be lost among all the others.
I would suggest that part of your day every day is to research new job opportunities and the other part is carrying out these activities. Researching new job opportunities can be aided considerably by having job board ‘watchdogs’ set up. Go on to a job board, complete the form stating what you are looking for, and click the options asking for new jobs that fit those criteria to be sent to you as soon as they are posted. Do this across as many relevant job boards as possible and you will find a multitude of new jobs come into your inbox every day. You can also carry out a Twitter, Google and LinkedIn search every day too. These combined with the watchdogs will give you a strong list of jobs every day to apply for and you will find that your applications skills improve vastly.
In my experience, no one can expect to achieve great results from less effort than I have described. The more you do, the quicker you will achieve your great result – it is the law of averages! Work ethic is sometimes a lost value yet in my experience it is probably the most distinguishing factor between those who do really well and those who do not.