Job Search – The Series (part 3)

 Episode 3 in this serial picks right up where #2 left off.  In fact, much of this content I originally intended to include as part of the previous article but as it began to run long, I opted to divide the content – hey, 2 posts for the price of 1.

So following with my previous line of thought, I want to share some of the other tools I’m leveraging as part of my job search/transition services experience.

The focus of this feature will be the webinars or online meetings in which I’ve recently participated.

DBM offers an inventory of roughly 27 webinar meetings.  This includes a 4 part Retirement series and a 5 part Entrepreneurship series.  Ever the sucker for activity, I have (as of this writing) participated in 9 sessions and am currently scheduled for another 10. 

Below I’ll highlight some of the sessions I’ve attended but first allow me to make a generalized comment about the value of these classes.  For starters, it is obviously and also surprisingly important to engage other folks who are also navigating the job search process.  I have the luxury of this transition service, but if you’re on your own, then identify networking events in your community or through your local church.  These events are out there and they are taking place and you need to participate.  Having the opportunity to engage, share ideas and successes with others is very helpful.  If you are depressed or feeling down as it relates to your job status then engaging others is a must.

So clearly there is value simply in attending these sessions… knowing that you are not alone coupled with the (mostly) positive and informed opinions and experiences from the facilitators is worth the effort.  That said, some of the topics are not so interesting and some of the content is quite remedial, but the courses exist for a reason and everyone is at a different place relative to their experience and knowledge base.

Ok, enough preamble, here goes, below are some of the classes I’ve attended and 2-3 key takeaways from each.  If questions, comments, or my instincts dictate, I’ll elaborate on the specific topics of interest.

Negotiating

I was initially disappointed in this class because the content was pretty basic.  But as I thought about what I would have wanted to hear, I was able to frame my positions around those points.

The basic premise for this class is that everything is negotiable, that we should not be afraid to ask, and that we should get everything in writing via a formal offer letter.

Salary, Vacation, Benefits, Education Reimbursements, Company Car, Laptops, Expense Payments, Travel Upgrades, Flex Time, Working Location, Day Care, Signing Bonus, Association Dues, Training, and Relocation Expenses were some of the items we inventoried as part of the session. 

The next step is to rationalize these elements into 1 of 3 buckets – Must Have, Nice to Have, Don’t Need – as a preparatory step.  This is a great step as it forces you to think of everything in advance and then to assign a relative value to it.  There is no single right answer in the exercise but there is a right answer for you.

Finally, the concept of win/win was discussed.  While this is always the right approach, it is critical when done in the context of a hiring.  For example, negotiating to the death is one thing when done against a party you’ll never again encounter but wholly different when you must report to your adversary come 8:00am Monday morning.

Networking

I’ll spend more time on this topic as I proceed, but this is golden key according to the services team and I have to agree.  You simply don’t know who knows who until you start to engage folks.

For starters, you need to work on your own network.  Open an excel spreadsheet and define some basic categories – name, email, phone number, employer, context, and last contact make for good starting points.  Then start to list folks you know… friends, family, co-workers, former co-workers, vendors, suppliers, alumni, association members, church members, neighbors etc. 

Once your list is in place you’ll want to ladder or tier your contacts – simply put, some people are better contacts in the context of a job search than others.

You’ll also want to maintain your network by staying in contact with those on your list.  Perhaps you reach out to a target number each month, perhaps you send quarterly or annual updates or holiday greetings.  The key is to keep a degree of currency to your group – and this includes adding new folks too!

Finally, 2 great tools for networking are LinkedIn and Facebook.  I’ve long been a proponent of LinkedIn and recently have added a profile in Facebook.  However, please remember to manage your on-line presence.  Don’t post your beer bong photos on Facebook and then be surprised when no employer will offer you a call back.

Job Search Communications

This was another pretty good class.  The instructor appeared to be a Dan Miller fan though she never mentioned him by name.  Her leading point was the significance of getting the face-to-face meeting.  Rather than send out 100 resumes and wait by the phone she encouraged us to make live contact.  She offered the statistic that, counting networking meetings, it required 15-25 face-to-face meetings before a quality offer was made.  Sounds like I have my work cut out for me.

She also offered a quality approach to handling written and voicemail communications – stay in control.  This is very Dan Miller-like.  Rather than send letters or voice messages asking for return calls, she instructed us to commit to a time when we would call back.  To this end, she even asked that we not leave our phone numbers when calling or include a resume in our mailings.  While I can’t say that I agree with not leaving a number if I am practicing the “I’ll call you back” line, she did make a good point on the resume.  It seems that some employers have an “all resumes to HR policy” – so even the best letter written to the most anxious of hiring managers will route straight to HR if a resume falls out of the envelope.  I’m not sure how I’ll play this but I may experiment with this tactic.

Interviewing – stay tuned, this topic will get at least one article dedicated just to it…

Coping with Transition

I took this class because I was available and anxious to take something and this was all that was available at the time.  The irony was not lost on me that the rudest of all the instructors was leading this class.

I completely respect that some folks will need this material and nurturing more than I do at this time, but the messaging was straightforward – feed your soul and find other areas to help counterbalance the imbalance caused by a job loss – exercise more, volunteer, work in the yard, read a good book, spend time with family, become more active in your faith, etc.

I am a strong advocate of achieving balance in one’s life but the reality is that balance is achieved over time rather than in each moment.  Being unemployed is a significant ‘out of balance’ experience from a career standpoint, but it can and should be offset for our greater health.

Doing activities to fill this void can also serve the networking need as many of these items will travel you in circles you’d certainly miss at home watching Oprah.

Develop Your Marketing Plan

This was an interesting class.  I originally didn’t like the idea of crafting a Marketing Plan but the more I think about it the more I want and plan to do one.  The idea behind the Marketing Plan is to create a job search road map – to define who you are and where you want to go.

It is a 2 page document and I’ll step through the anatomy of each:

Page 1- the “Who am I” page

Contact Information – basically pulled from your resume

Target Functions – name 3 job titles you’d like target as part of this search – CEO, COO, CFO are three lofty examples.

Areas of Expertise – inventory your key strengths and career assets that support your case for pursuing the 3 job titles… here every item should link to a career title and no title should be devoid of support (a leading indicator that you may not get that job)

Profile – Brag a little bit… borrow accomplishment statements from your resume to demonstrate what you have accomplished.  Unlike the stock market, historic performance IS an indication of future performance.  Of course by now you already know that these statements should build upon the themes and flow established in the previous items

Employer History – inventory the employers or key projects you’ve had in your career to further lend support to the themes of this page.

Page 1 is similar to a resume as it does contain much of the same information, but it positions us quite differently.  Whereas the resume is focused on the past, Page 1 of the Marketing Plan turns to orient on the future.

Page 2 – the “What I Want” page

Personal VisionOutline the work environment you are seeking – Industry, Work Styles, Travel or No Travel, Geography, Large or Small company, Profit or Non Profit, Formal or Causal style, etc.  These are the characteristics that will satisfy you on a daily basis long after you’ve grown accustomed to your routine and income.

Target Segments and Organizations – here the rubber meets the road as you start to name names.  Inventory specific companies you plan to target.  This list can evolve so don’t worry about getting it right now, just write now.

Page 2 is much more personal in that it is more about preferences than facts.  In this way, you’ll want to limit who you expose to this page.  Whereas page 1 can go to all your network participants you’ll want to scale back the distribution of this page as you may not want an potential employer to see it – why was I last on the list or even not on the list are not questions you want a hiring manager to be thinking or asking.

Sharing the marketing plan (all or some parts) while networking is more valuable than sharing a resume.  Consider the historical view offered by a resume.  When I get someone’s resume it is always accompanied with a “what do I do with this?” question and it also comes with an expectation, “help me find a job”.  Conversely, the marketing plan tells me that you are in control because you know what you want and where you plan to start your chase.  By sharing you are inviting me to help you in your cause rather than champion your cause.

ABC’s of Recruiting Firms

The messaging I refreshed in this session was valuable but straightforward.  There are 2 types of recruiters and you’ll do well to know the difference.  Meanwhile, don’t put all your eggs in the recruiter basket.  Simply put, a recruiter does not work for you.  A Retained Search Recruiter works for the employer and a Contingency Recruiter works for himself or herself.

Here are some other differences between these types:

Retained – hired by the hiring company in advance of the search, these recruiters know the company well and plan to achieve a ‘fit’ by focused screening.  This type of recruiter is more likely to name the hiring company and have the employer’s best interest in mind.

Contingency – Lone rangers is the word that comes into my mind regarding this group and while that may not be entirely fair, the characteristics (and horror stories) support the idea.  This group is much more competitive because they are paid only when a candidate is hired – not for conducting a diligent search.  This group plans to achieve a ‘fit’ by focusing on volume (someone out of this handful of resumes has to be decent).  There’s also higher pressure applied to the candidate here and this is where the horror stories evolve.  For example, I may surf Career Builder for resumes and Monster.com for jobs and then I ‘broker’ the interview in hopes of a hire and commission.  You can quickly see how this can devolve from there.  That said, I’m sure the friendliest Contingency Recruiter in the US will help me land the perfect next job – I’ll personally pay a $1000 bonus if that happens!

So there you have it, summaries from 6 of the classes I’ve attended so far and a promise for a full article (at least one) on interviewing.

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