By Gerald Walsh ©
When job searching, most people sit at home (sometimes in their pyjamas) and check job boards. If something catches their eye, they might submit an application. Most times, no reply is ever received from that employer.
Honestly, I am still puzzled why so many people use this passive and mostly ineffective route to find a job. It rarely works.
To increase your odds of finding a decent job, you are going to have to identify and target specific organizations that are of interest to you—even if there are no job openings there right now—and make a connection with them.
Under ideal circumstances, you know people who can “open doors” for you. But if you cannot find anyone to refer you, you must take it upon yourself to make the first contact.
Many people believe that the largest employers have the greatest number of jobs. While this may be true, many companies are going through consolidation and downsizing to control costs. More than likely, they are reducing staff numbers not increasing them.
Don’t overlook small to mid-sized employers. Although these companies are not as well known, they can be a much better source of employment for you.
Before reaching out, do a little homework. Good research will help you develop a better understanding of the key issues and challenges facing the company.
Remember, most companies’ challenges fall under one of these categories:
You need to know this information so you can customize your letter and prepare for the face-to-face meeting you are hoping to have.
In the meeting
Keep in mind that your primary goal when meeting is to obtain information and advice from that employer. As tempting as it might be, you should refrain from asking if there are any job openings. That could be a big turnoff to someone who has agreed to spend time with you.
You should come to the meeting fully prepared with specific questions around the information you want to obtain. Here are a few examples:
Does my approach to job search make sense to you?
What do you see as the future trends in your industry?
What other companies or people might you suggest I contact?
Might you be willing to give them a call on my behalf?
Is it okay if I mention your name?
Can you look at my resume and offer some feedback?
Do you know the names of recruiters who specialize in my field?
How might my skills might be transferred to other industries or types of jobs?
Having a good list of focused questions will highlight your seriousness and professionalism and help you obtain valuable information for your job search.
And, never overstay your welcome. You must always be respectful of the employer’s time.
After the meeting
You should be thinking about how you might build a long-term meaningful relationship with this person—one that involves “give-and-take.”
This means that the relationship should be mutual and of value to both parties involved. Think of what you can offer the other person, not just what you stand to gain.
Following the meeting, follow up with a thank you note, one of the most under-utilized tools in job search. Even if the information you got wasn’t helpful, you must show your appreciation for their time.
It is also wise to keep that person updated by e-mailing them after you’ve met with one of their referrals or after you’ve gotten a job. It will certainly make them feel good if some of the advice they shared has paid off.
To share your thoughts on this blog post, please write me at email@example.com.
Gerald Walsh is an executive recruiter, career coach, public speaker and author. During a 25+ year career, he has interviewed more than 10,000 job candidates, completed hundreds of successful searches for a range of organizations and guided many individuals – from young professionals to senior executives – to successful career change. He is the author of “PINNACLE: How to Land the Right Job and Find Fulfillment in Your Career.” You can follow Gerry on Twitter @@Gerald_Walsh and LinkedIn.