Job-Seeking Step 4: Finding Leads

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Step 3: Crafting Your Image

You will not be able to do it all alone, and networking is absolutely necessary

  • Surround yourself with positive and encouraging people
    • Hang out with these people at least once a week to re-energize yourself for the job search
    • The ones who are worth your time will give you realistic and actionable constructive criticism
  • Ignore people who don’t have your best interests at heart
  • Find a mentor
    • They are not only essential to your growth, but also to your job security
    • The more powerful the mentor, the more success you are likely to have
  • Find people who work in the industry you’re looking to get into
    • Be sure these people are experts in their industry when they give you advice

Get ready to sacrifice

  • The biggest hurdle to the job search will be your personal weaknesses, so learn to either overcome them or conceal them
    • The only way to do it is to learn to be positive
      • Negative people are rarely hired, since they will demotivate everyone else
    • Social anxiety is not uncommon, but you need to get out of your comfort zone to land a job
      • 85% of currently available jobs are never posted
      • 80% of jobs are filled through referrals
      • You will need to send out about 500 unsolicited resumes to get one interview
      • Fixate most of your energy on using nontraditional methods to network
  • You need to work at the job search every single day
    • Research your desired industry when you’re not looking for jobs
      • Look in public libraries
      • Get ahold of occupational handbooks
      • Read any related business or industry magazines
        • If you need to spend money on a magazine, the expense is worth it
    • Keep your information organized for all of your leads
      • Name, address, contact information
      • Networking source and priority
      • Primary objectives for the contact
      • Secondary objectives for the contact
      • Dates, activity and results of calls
      • Status: Completed, Call Back, Will Call, Followup Date
    • Get credentials when you’re not job hunting, there are many of them that are extremely affordable or free
    • Brainstorm creative new ways to get your name out there in your free time
      • Find projects you can do to impress the employer
      • Create a hobby that showcases your talent
      • Submit articles to an industry publication
  • Networking is not about meeting as many people as you can, it’s about meeting the right people and leaving a good impression
    • Send 5 emails to friends in different spheres of life than you and indicate that you’re looking for a job
      • Send it to each of them personally and individually, without using BCC or a group message
      • Share with them some specifics of what you’re looking for
      • Ask them for any advice, thoughts or people that come to mind to talk to
      • Take their input, tweak the email and send it to 5 more friends

Focus on first impressions in the job search

  • First impressions count for everything in the business world
    • You need to always maintain your image in public
  • Be brief and to the point when meeting new people
    • Don’t ask for a connection too soon, since it sounds desperate
    • Introduce yourself to someone else through a third person who introduces you
    • Ask advice from others when there’s time for them to dispense it, since everyone loves giving advice
  • Practice 5 ways of introducing yourself when asked by others what you do
    • “I am working on learning (item) so that I can rethink (industry)”
      • This allows you to ask what industry they’re in and learn about more changes in the industry
      • If they ask more about it, express how your non-linear career path prepared you for the work
    • “I work in (space/area/industry) doing (career goal)”
      • This connects to a greater purpose and shows that you provide meaning
      • There are many great ways to phrase this
        • “I help people build their companies” – working in Operations
        • “I help people get their jobs” – working in Human Resources
        • “I work on the business side” – working in Sales or Leadership
        • “I work on the creative side” – working in Graphic Design or Strategy
    • “I am trying to figure out where to go from (current position), but we will see, since I have time to figure it out”
      • This allows you to talk about the future of your work
      • Choose a project that really gets you excited to show your passion
      • Before you finish, ask them “what do you think your next career move may be?”, since it shows the non-linearity about careers in general
    • “I am learning about (topic) right now, which is very exciting. What learning edge are you experiencing in your work?”
      • If you’re excited about what you’re learning, choose this to let them ask about it in more detail
    • “I am working to being (job) so that I can (greater purpose)”
      • Choose this once you know what you want to do, since this shows that you have a grand goal in mind and work steadfastly towards it
  • Any good employer will look for key attributes in a candidate
    • Character – ability to be honest and demonstrate integrity
    • Competence – ability to read a situation and act appropriately
    • Chemistry – personality fits well with others in the organization
  • You need to be solely focused on the organization you’re applying for, no matter how many other interviews you have
  • Some cultures and their expectations vary heavily by region
    • Some areas have more jobs posted on job boards, while others have almost nothing relevant
    • What is important in one area is not as important as another area
    • If there is any difference in transportation or what is appropriate, communicating your knowledge of that can go very far
    • Some attitudes are less formal and more friendly, while others are extremely serious

Look everywhere for connections

  1. First, try any word-of-mouth referrals from people you know
    • Family
    • Friends
    • Teachers and professors
    • Neighbors
    • Ex-colleagues
    • Acquaintances
  2. Next, network with strangers, keeping at least a dozen copies of your resume and many business cards
    • Be careful about how you use business cards
      • Business cards are often a useless formality, so only give them when the other person asks
      • As you meet people and connect with them, add their phone numbers to your contacts list and email them immediately to express the connection
      • Routinely connect through LinkedIn and other social networks
    • Look for in-person venues to market yourself through
      • Make sure you go to many of them, since it’s impossible to predict what will happen at one
      • There are many networking events to choose from
        • Industry-specific or general business networking events
        • Job fairs
        • Company information sessions and site visits
        • Educational events and lectures
        • Trade shows and professional conferences
        • Join a professional association and visit their meetings
        • Your college’s career services, alumni association or club event
    • Network through other third parties
      • Employment agencies and contract/temp firms
      • Industry-specific recruiters or headhunters
      • Contact cities’ chambers of commerce
      • Government employment offices
    • Networking is the combination of curiosity and contribution, so be ready to give
      • Strive for a good reputation with every person you meet
        • Always follow up with all contacts, even the ones that seem to lead nowhere
      • Find ways to help anyone anytime
        • Find 5 people and help them by sending them an article, opportunity, job posting or interesting thing
      • Don’t be afraid to work for free
        • Volunteer through offering on a job board or using a service like Catchafire
        • Sometimes you can be given the opportunity to job shadow to get a feel for the work
        • Many internships or volunteer opportunities will lead to jobs, so don’t be afraid to ask
        • Treat the opportunities to work for free as chances to learn, so have a strategy for gracefully leaving a volunteer position
  3. Look at job boards such as Indeed, Monster or Hired only after you’ve exhausted your networking opportunities
    • Message company and hiring agency recruiters through LinkedIn
    • Connect with temporary agencies to build miscellaneous work experience, but don’t expect to be treated well
    • Follow companies that interest you on LinkedIn
    • Spend the least amount of effort on online postings, since only 3% of jobs are filled through them
      • Applicant Tracking Systems (ATS) are meant to weed you out when you post your profile online
        1. 200+ applicants will post their information
        2. The first applicant will be picked within 200 seconds
        3. 100 applicants will be thrown out by the ATS
        4. 80 applicants will be removed from the recruiter’s search keywords
        5. 20 applicants will be reviewed by the person
        6. 3-6 will be selected for a phone screening
        7. 2-4 will be selected for an interview
      • Unless you have an unbelievable level of experience in the industry you’re going for, you will need to apply to specific employers
        • Go to employers’ job portals on their websites, but always add a personal touch to make your application stand out
        • Limit yourself to 8-10 positions in a week to focus more intimately on them
        • Pay attention to keywords that stand out for your particular job mix
    • Newspaper advertisements
      • Though this isn’t as common, some industries still use newspaper advertisements

Make a list of target employers to focus in on

  • Track each employer in spreadsheets to make sure you don’t mix them up
    • Each employer should be moved forward on the project with each meeting
    • Record notes from each meeting in that location and reflect on what you need to do next
  • Finding companies will come easily with the right kind of Internet research
    • Choose 5 companies that grab your attention inside your desired industry
    • Make a list of 20 heavily influential people in your industry
      • Find out how accessible those people really are and how easy they are to be contacted
      • Connect with them via email if they can be reached
        • Write a short email that indicates the following
          • Your respect for them
          • Why you think their career path is interesting
          • Requesting for 30 mins of their time to meet in person and get advice
          • Express how you’re at an interesting crossroads and want their advice on:
            1. Something tangible
            2. Something philosophical
            3. One other question you’re currently wrestling with
        • Before sending, make sure you expect absolutely nothing from them
        • Go to the meeting with specific questions to answer all 3 issues
          • Ask them and listen carefully
      • Find out the organizations they run and consider working for their organizations
    • You’re likely to get brushed off by someone, but you can win them over
      1. Remember an idea that person told you in passing and how you took decisive action in response to it, then send them a thank you note
      2. Send one follow-up email about a small commitment, such as writing to someone in response to their suggestion
      3. Send another follow-up email about how you followed through on the commitment and how you wanted to update them and get their advice on what to do next
  • Do your research before you make any deeper connection with the company
    • Culture
      • Mission statement
      • Values and beliefs that guide the company
      • How the team bonds and has fun
      • The benefits of being a part of the organization
      • Common characteristics of employees who work there
      • Names of key personnel
      • Their web presence and LinkedIn savviness
    • Capacity
      • The company’s major products and services
      • The size of the company in terms of sales, employment and locations
      • The number of employees in it
        • A larger company gives many more networking opportunities, which is ideal at the beginning of your career
        • Generally the smaller the company the less your pay and the more responsibilities you’ll need to take on
        • A smaller company means you’ll be working more closely with others, so consider your actual likeability
      • Company strengths
      • The company’s achievements
    • The environment of the company
      • Major competitors
      • View of the company by clients, suppliers and competition
      • Latest news reports that affects the company or is about about the company
      • Their leadership style of management
      • Their involvement in the community
    • The job itself
      • What the position involves
      • Skills and personality traits that match your specific build
      • The appropriate salary range for the job and whether it’s something you can live with
      • Don’t worry too much about the title, since the skills will be the more marketable parts of the job later on
    • In summary, be able to answer
      • What the organization does
      • What they are all about
      • The distinguishing characteristics of the company
      • What makes them different from the competition
      • The job you’d be doing
  • Make it a goal to become acquainted with at least 5 people who work at the company you want
    • This increases the chances of getting a good referral
    • Make sure one of those people is the hiring manager for the position you want
      • Use the Advanced Search function on LinkedIn to find your hiring manager’s name
        • Figure out the job title of the manager of the position you’re applying for, then enter it in with the company’s name
    • The easiest way to connect through that person is by connecting with related people
      • Finding mutual friends is easy on social networks
      • Finding a 3rd-degree connection is often very easy, though can be time-consuming
        1. Look at everyone you know that is related to the work you’re looking at
        2. Look at everyone that desired connection knows
        3. Find anyone those two mutually know and connect through them
  • If you can, find a way to volunteer some work for the potential employer to demonstrate your competence
    1. Pick a company you want to work for and figure out what you want to do for them
      • Design or research something that the company can take from you for free
    2. Start doing the work for them before you even talk to them or apply
    3. Send an email to the CEO or other high-ranking employee about what you’ve done when you’re applying
    4. Follow it up every few weeks until they respond
  • If you just throw a stock resume and a copy-pasted cover letter at the employer, they will throw it away in 3 seconds
    • Some hiring managers have to go through hundreds of applications a day, so an hour or two of devoted effort is necessary to not be overlooked
  • Make a worthwhile cover letter
    • Send in a personalized one instead of a generic copy-pasted one
      • Use each letter as a separate personable letter tailored to the job you’re seeking
    • Be direct, to the point and polite
      • Keep it focused to only 2-3 short paragraphs
      • Don’t express your interests unless it applies to the company
      • Be honest and direct with the reader
        • Authenticity is necessary, since it shows very clearly through writing
    • Use the following format:
      1. Start the letter with a strong opening
        • Instead of “Dear Sir or Madam”, call the company to find out the hiring manager’s name, correct spelling and job title if it’s not apparent
          • This shows both motivation and resourcefulness
        • Begin the letter with a compliment towards the company or its services
          • Discuss the product in the beginning and express what it will do for you
        • Use an appropriate quotation to show personality
      2. Indicate why you are writing and provide examples from your resume about how the job will fit you
      3. Mention the name of someone you already know that works for the company
        • Most employers like to hire individuals referred by their existing employees
      4. Tell them about why you will positively impact the company in a creative way
        • Ask a question about the company and answer it with what you can do
          • This is a basic sales technique to create a need and then fill it
          • A new popular cover letter addresses the pain of the employer followed by sharing how you can resolve their pain
        • Flatter the company a little
          • Brag about the company and a specific detail that you researched
          • Show with past details your value to the company
        • Talk about how you are capable
          • Prove 3 ways that you have a real skill
            • Showcase your past experience
          • Prove 3 ways that you are aligned with the mission of the company, which takes work
            • Talk to an expert, read a book or attend a talk about the latest in the industry
            • Create a research paper or infographic about the industry
            • Attend several extremely specific events to the industry, focusing on pioneers speaking at them
            • Volunteer at a non-profit connected to the industry
            • Provide 5 things that you can do in the coming months to improve the industry according to the company’s mission statement
          • Say that you were going to do it yourself, but can create a deeper impact by working with the company
          • Address any glaringly obvious concerns in a positive light, such as gaps in employment
      5. Restate your interest in the position and how you feel about it
      6. End with a specific indication about your followup plan
        • Request to talk, get advice and learn about how you can work together
        • Give them a time and date that you’ll try to call them
        • Indicate why you are making the call (to discuss the opportunity and fit for the position in more detail)
      7. Thank the employer for their time and consideration
    • Avoid doing anything that will get it thrown out
      • Making demands or requests
      • Bragging too heavily about yourself with vagueness or hyperbole
      • Spelling or punctuation errors
  • Be intentional where you send your letter and resume
    • Don’t send it to the CEO in a company larger than 60 people, since that person has no time to read it
    • Don’t send it through a generic hiring portal
    • Send it directly to the hiring manager
    • Since it’s an email, the cover letter should be pasted into the body of the email, which means that email rules apply
  • Save a copy of the job description to your computer at the time you apply for a job, just in case it gets removed

If it seems too good to be true, then it probably is

  • Many scams and pyramid schemes are created to appeal to unemployed and desperate people
    • The ads will show hyper-inflated salaries or odd hourly wages
    • They will often ask you to send money or personal information up-front
  • Sometimes the “dream job” is either puffed up to look good or you don’t have the full story of what your work environment is
  • If the job keeps showing up over and over, it’s likely that there’s something bad going on
Next: Step 5: Interviewing