Recently, a job seeker asked me this question:
"I want to reach out to a Director I know about a position he has available that I know I'd be perfect for. How do I contact him without appearing pushy?"
I love when people tell me they don't want to seem pushy in their job search. It ranks up there with not wanting to appear conceited, insincere, uncaring, or selfish. All those little etiquette lessons drilled into us as kids come pouring out when we look for work. Unfortunately, they often hold back our progress.
In Job Search, Being Polite = Being Unmemorable
When we try so hard not to come across negatively, we usually fail to come across at all. There is a very old saying, “The squeaky wheel gets the grease." In job search, that means, “It's not who you know, it's who knows you." You must find a way to connect with people that doesn't make you feel pushy, but does generate results.
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Are you a pushy job seeker? Be careful...
There's one strategy you can use to make sure you get your point across without being too pushy.
Solution: Ask, Don't Tell
The reason we feel pushy in job search is we think we have to hard-sell ourselves to the person we are contacting – and we are petrified of the rejection that might come from it. In the case of the job seeker above, she sees herself as the perfect person for the job, but is afraid of telling the hiring manager she is for fear he won't agree.
Now, the answer isn't to just pour on the confidence, push past the concern, and tell the hiring manager how great you are – that never works. The etiquette lesson holds true: Nobody likes pushy people.
The solution is to ask the Director some specifics about the job as a way to start a dialog that will let her naturally introduce herself as a candidate for the role. Instead of sending off an e-mail that says:
I saw your ad for the ___ position and I just know I'd be perfect for it. Let me tell you why...
I suggest she try the following:
I saw your ad for the ___ position and immediately wondered the following:
A) How will this person be helping you directly in your role? What problem will the right candidate be solving for you?
B) In your personal opinion, what are the non-negotiable skill sets the right candidate will have to have to succeed in this role for you?
See the difference?
The latter gets the conversation going in a way that allows the Director to express his needs more specifically to the job seeker.
Get a conversation going about your career with the experts at CareerHMO! From there, she will be able to follow up by validating the hiring manager's needs with her own experience. I could see her response e-mail to the Director going like this:
Thank you for your insight. I couldn't agree more with you that it will take a person with ___ skills to help you solve the problem of ___. I experienced something very similar in my work at ___ as a ___. It's for that reason that I wanted to get the clarification from you. I was contemplating applying to the job, but really wanted to make sure I was a fit based on your needs.
Given what you've shared, I'm even more excited about applying to the position now. I've enclosed a cover letter and resume that speak to your needs. I'd really love an opportunity to interview with you for this role to discuss your needs even further.
By asking some clarifying questions first, the job seeker has the opportunity to get information that can be used to better tie her to the opportunity by tailoring her response to the Director's stated needs.