Job hunting has striking similarities to a marketing project.
The operative “P” words for a successful campaign are positioning, process and persistence, followed closely by performance, personality and pricing. The product is the candidate.
For a candidate to have the opportunity to sell his/her value to the targeted buyer/employer, the strategy driving the search has to be effective, which means choosing the correct focus and developing the right approach. Your job search project may be one of the most demanding, and rewarding, campaigns you will ever experience.
Let's look at ways you can stack the deck in your favor by increasing your knowledge and job search implementation skills.
The first step to launching a successful campaign and propelling it forward is to identify what makes you a unique candidate. With such stiff competition, it is imperative that candidates distinguish themselves.
This means creating a message or an identifier that is remarkable and memorable, one that will separate you from the pack of resumes hitting recruiters' desks. It is sometimes difficult to develop this for yourself, especially if your career has depended on doing this for others. You may want to seek advice to establish your value objectively.
What is it that you do better than others? What is it about you that enables you to succeed where others don't? Is there something in your background that others easily remember?
This bit of specialized, personal data is your tagline. If you get the positioning targeted correctly, your campaign will be focused on the right employer market with a message that the buyer will value, netting you employer interest.
Once you have captured an employer's attention, then you have provided an opportunity to demonstrate your abilities that eventually can produce a job offer, the goal of your job search campaign project.
The swiftest route to a new opportunity is to identify your target employers and then specify their needs in terms of how you can address them better than anyone else. Don't wait around for a company to advertise for a job that is perfect for you. Rather, go out there and seek out a company where you are confident you can make a positive impact on the bottom line.
Double back to ensure that your positioning vis-à-vis your target employers is consistent with your most outstanding ability or characteristic that an employer will instantly value. In other words, the better the match, the greater the likelihood of capturing the employers' interest, satisfy their needs and exceeding their expectations.
If you understand the dynamic between meeting employers' needs first and then promoting your skills against these requirements, your chances of making a connection are much greater than if you concentrate only on your achievements and accomplishments without customizing them for a company.
3. Persistence and Perseverance
The early bird—the first candidate to impress the decision maker—has a competitive advantage. So be the one to create a job for yourself by introducing yourself to employers you want to work for.
This also means staying in contact with individuals with whom you “clicked” but for whatever reason didn't work out an employment agreement. That interpersonal chemistry can make or break a situation in your favor, so don't let a good relationship slip away because the timing was off for hiring you.
Sticking with your job search goals also means doing a whole lot more than simply submitting a resume or an online application—go and find out who the hiring manager is and speak with that person directly. This will get you name recognition and hopefully allow you to pitch him/her with your credentials better than any written marketing document/resume can accomplish.
A word about focus and establishing priorities: concentrate your resources on activities with the largest potential return on your investment. While all search methods have their place, over 85% of executives report finding new jobs through personal contacts. Keep track of your contacts and refresh them periodically. Use different methods to stay in touch, varying the use of phone, email, mail, an article or clipping, invitations, face-to-face chats, etc. according to the recipient's preferences.
Remember that in networking, maintaining contact is key to results—out of touch can mean out of mind. Ask your contacts for advice, introductions and information—not directly for a job. Rely on your professional network and return favors generously. Persistence in personal interactions is guaranteed to be the best way to identify a new opportunity.
Recommendations carry tremendous weight over cold calls and unsolicited inquiries. If you can get a colleague to make a direct referral to a prospective employer, your chances of being given serious consideration are much higher. If one colleague asks another to meet with a third person, this usually happens; and once you are face to face, this is the best possible circumstances in which to create good interpersonal chemistry and share ideas.
This often leads to creating a new opportunity specifically in response to a candidate being available; in other words, an unadvertised position in the hidden job market is created just for a particular candidate. Let this be you!
4. Performance and Presentation
Make sure that resume speaks to your strengths, talents and skills, but nothing beats actual performance to prove to employers that you can deliver for them. If you can provide proof of your competency through a customized presentation developed especially for a prospect, you have demonstrated initiative and creativity as well as your wealth of knowledge. Doesn't this speak volumes to your willingness to work hard, to desire to make a contribution, to want to go all out to make a difference, to be a team player, to be a leader and to go beyond expectations?
Rather than use your words, show the prospective employer what you are made of! Do a report just for the informational interview, demonstrating your grasp of the concepts and your ability to use the material effectively.
Does this effort rate the preparation time? Yes, because it is more likely to gain attention and lead to further discussions of your mutual interests and ways you might fit into the organization than a thousand mailed resumes that are headed for the wastebasket or applicant-tracking database.
You would gain a huge advantage over others who simply submit a resume and wait for a reply. You are already past the gatekeeper and wowing the decision makers. Don't waste a chance to show hiring managers your capabilities. Put yourself out, and you'll reap a competitive advantage, getting on the inside track to joining the company you want to work for!
The greatest credentials in the world are often not enough. Interpersonal chemistry, that essential feeling of trust, plays a critical role in hiring decisions.
If you are fortunate enough to make direct contact with prospective employers, concentrate on allowing them to get to know you and begin to cultivate their trust. Listen rather than talk so you can hear what is important to them, and then address their needs and calm their concerns.
This is critical to encouraging an employer to be comfortable in choosing you to join the business. Gaining credibility might be even more important to your selection than whether your skills and background are desirable. Focus on generating a dialogue, getting to know each other and sharing experiences and thoughts. If there is good chemistry, the rest will follow.
If this encounter doesn't lead to an offer, it will likely produce additional leads, interviews and referrals that in turn generate more leads to opportunities. Your personality will facilitate networking, and this is how you are going to eventually find your next challenge. Just passing your paperwork around is less likely to motivate people to recommend you than if you can let them care about your future and want to help you find a job.
Compensation package or salary provides a guideline to where you fit into an organization's hierarchy and how much responsibility/authority you merit; it is an indicator of the additional value you represent to the employer.
Until a prospective employer is sufficiently intrigued to bring up money, don't raise this issue. Assure them that if you both agree that this is a good fit, you are confident that the financial details can be worked out agreeably. That leaves all the more time for the employer to invest developing interest in you.
When you do start talking dollars, be sure to frame this in terms of a range, not a single figure. Skirt the issue, assuring the employer that you are certain that this is a negotiable item that won't be a problem.
Rather than get into the language of closing a deal, let me suggest that you be prepared to show the employer that you can recoup the expense of bringing you on board through creating new income, saving this amount, retain business, capture new clients, increase client loyalty, etc.
The goal of a job hunt is to find a great new career opportunity—great from both the employer's perspective and the candidate's. To attract a targeted prospective employer's attention requires a correct marketing strategy implemented accurately.
To accomplish this, a candidate must create the right positioning. Putting together a unique value proposition that distinguishes you from others competing for a new career opportunity and selecting prospective employers who will appreciate what you bring to their organization is essential. If it is done right, you will get meetings that can lead to exciting new challenges.
Like anything else, this requires substantial effort and persistence over time. The network of personal contacts you develop using the Six P's will generate job leads better and faster than any other job search technique. Guaranteed.
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