Believe me. I understand the frustration. You have been unemployed for a considerable period of time. You are having trouble making ends meet. You are trying your best. You know that the vast majority – over 70%! – of job openings are not publicized but are filled through networking. And you network. Boy do you network! And you have scores, hundreds, thousands of business cards to prove it. Sorry. Collecting business cards is not networking. Let me give you a recent personal example. I joined the Manhattan Chamber of Commerce. It’s a great organization. They are focused on their members, not on dues. In counter distinction to a different organization of which I had been a member, instead of receiving a plaque when I joined, the MCC sent me an invitation to a new members’ breakfast. At the breakfast, I met one of the directors. We had a nice chat and she put me in touch with a board member who is responsible for the Chamber’s “Ambassador” program. Ambassadors meet and greet participants at Chamber events and recruit new members. I met with the board member and he appointed me an ambassador, after a good hour long interview during which he got to know me. From that conversation, we developed a rapport which led to an ongoing discussion about a joint project. Also, at the breakfast, I met two ambassadors who are members of the Chamber’s Business Referral Groups. They invited me to attend the next meeting of their respective groups, of which there are presently two, and I chose to join one of them. Following my first group meeting, I met with one of the Ambassadors who indicated to me that she was looking to hire staff. She is a veteran and since my company’s mission is to promote the hiring of veterans, she said she would utilize my services and asked for a contract. At a subsequent group meeting one of the members noted he too is looking to hire someone for his company. We’ll be talking after the New Year. Now things don’t usually work this way. This was too fast. It was too quick. Usually it takes weeks to get to the position when the business card turns into a networking event and the networking event turns into a lead and the lead turns into an offer. (Just to clarify, an event advertised as a “networking event” is not really a “networking event.” The networking takes place when an actual relationship is formed. Then you are “networking.” When you first meet, you are schmoozing.) Here’s how it usually works: You go to an event. You meet Joe. You exchange business cards. You send Joe an e-mail saying how much you enjoyed meeting him and look forward to being in touch. Joe is busy and does not respond. A couple of days later you pick up the phone, call Joe, and invite him for a cup of coffee. You tell him that you would like to learn more about his business. You don’t tell him that you really want to meet with him so that he can help you get a job – or, better yet, hire you. If you tell him that, he might say, “Listen. I wish I could help. But I really don’t know of anything or have anything for you. Send me your resume and I’ll let you know if I hear of anything.” In other words, “Don’t call me, I’ll call you.” People like to talk about themselves so he agrees to the meeting. You arrive a bit early, greet him when he arrives at the corner café and after ordering your drinks and some small talk about the weather you thank him for meeting with you and tell him you were intrigued by what he had told you about his business. You listen respectfully, ask a few insightful questions, and make a link between what he is telling you and your own life experiences. (The questions are also based on the research you did on him. This impresses our friend Joe who now knows that you prepare for meetings and understand due diligence – things that employers like and that turn strangers into business referrals!) What you are doing is creating a real relationship.If Joe’s a good guy, he will ask you about yourself. (If he doesn’t ask, then he probably is not someone who will be of any help to you so you would be wasting your time pursuing a relationship with him.) You give your elevator pitch and answer any questions he has. You must be upbeat and positive. No matter how you lost your job you cannot reveal any bitterness. No one is going to recommend a bitter person who they just met to a business associate or a friend. Now it’s been a good 15 minutes and you tell him that you don’t want to take up any more of his time. And this is when you ask the key question. It’s not, “Can you help me find a job?” You ask, “How can I be of help to you? What type of clients are you looking for or services do you need? I have met a lot of freelancers and may be able to refer someone to you.” What you have just done is to show that you believe in helping people. Some call it “giving forward.” You are telling him that you want to be an asset to him. And you are showing him that you know how to network. You are willing to help him, and through him, others. Joe says what he says and then you ask for a favor. “Joe. I know you are busy, but I wanted to ask a favor. As I said, I’m looking for my next opportunity. Could I send you a list I have made of companies that I am interested in working for? I’d appreciate it if you could review it and let me know if you have any contacts that might be useful or any suggestions for additions or deletions.” (Notice I did not suggest that you offer to send him your resume. Let him ask for the resume. The issue is, you don’t want him to feel that you are asking him for a job. If you give him the resume, that’s the inevitable impression. If he asks for a copy, and hopefully he will, that’s another matter.) He’ll probably answer in the affirmative and tell you to send the list because, by showing that you have a positive attitude and no bitterness, and by offering to help him, you’ve shone yourself to be a professional. Joe does not have to worry that you will embarrass him so he should be willing to help. You have now formed a relationship and successfully networked with him. Congratulations! E-mail him the list. Wait a week-10 days and give him a call. Don’t be a pest, just give a friendly reminder. And when you send the list, thank him for the meeting and for agreeing to review the list. I am amazed at how many people don’t understand the importance of “Thank you!” If he gives you some leads, or even makes a call on your behalf, whatever you do, follow-up. If he tells you to call Mary, call Mary. If you meet with Mary and she asks you to send her some information, send it immediately. (If you don’t follow-up, I guarantee it will get back to Joe and he won’t have anything more to do with you because you embarrassed him. It’s as simple as that.) If you get a call from Joe telling you to call his friend Sam immediately, and when you hang up on Joe your wife goes into labor, call Sam and then take the wife to the hospital. And when your child is born, name him Joseph or her Josephine. Now THAT’S networking. This post was originally published at an earlier date Photo Credit: Shutterstock
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In one of my older articles, "You Only Have 3 Seconds to Get the Job Offer," I promised to explain how I know who should get an interview. The interview with me, a recruiter, is simple: If you meet the minimum qualifications to be considered, I’ll bring you in for the interview. Then the fun starts. There are a number of sure-fire signs that a person should not be submitted to a client. And I am not talking here about the basics: being late; being dressed inappropriately; smelling bad (from perfume, cologne, or cigarette smoke); bad mouthing current or past employers; talking about sex, religion, or politics; all the basics that everyone knows – or should know!
Over the past nine-plus years, I have interviewed hundreds of job seekers. The ones that I remember most are those that presented poorly.
Having trouble getting a job offer? Let’s begin with a few of assumptions. Since you got the interview your cover letter and resume were obviously effective. You arrived on time, were dressed conservatively, smiled, gave a firm handshake, had the right attitude, did all the basics of Interviewing 101. But you still did not get the offer. Why?
Some time ago, I was interviewed by the website MainStreet.com for a story about weird interview questions. Subsequently, they invited me to come to their offices to record some of my answers. As I explained, my favorite question is, “In what direction would you run if there was a fire at work?” Some people respond that they would leave the building in accordance with company policy. I’ll give them a pass; they are following the book. But what if there is no policy? Now, it’s a question of character. Candidate Number One replies, “I’d immediately leave the building. I’d get out of the way of the fire fighters. I’d wait outside for instructions.” Candidate Number Two replies, “I’d head towards the fire. I would want to help anyone who needs assistance and make certain everyone gets out. I’m a team player. I don’t leave my colleagues in the lurch.” Who would you hire? Neither said anything wrong. There is no wrong answer. Candidate Number One is getting out of the way. Cynics would say, “He’s sticking his tail between his legs and running for the nearest exist.” I actually disagree. He doesn’t believe he has anything to offer so he’s simply getting out of the way of those who can help. What’s the point in standing around? Of course, Candidate Number Two is showing leadership. She believes she has something to contribute. Some might say, “She’s just trying to play the ‘hero.’” I disagree here as well. If there is a fire, a fool wouldn't be “playing” anything. As far as I am concerned, Candidate Number Two gets the job. Leadership trumps everything else. Here’s what really happened: I was conducting a search for fundraiser for a school for special needs children. My candidate arrived. The interview began with the principal and director of Business Affairs. Not ten minutes later a teacher came running into the principal’s office. A water pipe had broken and the place was flooding. My candidate could have done a number of things - He could have told them he realized they had a crisis and wait patiently in the principal’s office. He could have told them he realized they had a crisis and wait patiently in the Reception area. He could have told them he realized they had a crisis and call them to reschedule. He did none of those things. What did he do? He grabbed his overcoat, wrapped a drenched child in it, and helped. He ran towards the fire! And for the record, he got a second interview and the job. Now you know how to use weird interview questions to your advantage.
“I know in three seconds who will get the job.” That’s what a friend once told me. He explained when candidates are waiting in Reception, all he has to do is walk through, take a quick glance at them, and he knows who will get the job offer or, at least, who will not. Three seconds is very good. Of course, as a recruiter, I pride myself on being able to know if a person has what it takes to get an interview after spending five seconds on their cover letter and maybe eight on their resume. The funny thing is, most job seekers don’t believe any of this. That’s why they prepare rambling cover letters and resumes awash with self-praise. Of course, they are wrong. But let’s forget about job seekers for a moment. How about funding seekers? Entrepreneurs looking for backers. In this month’s issue of Inc. magazine, David Tish of TechStars is quoted as saying, “It’s pretty clear in 20 seconds whether the person [the funding seeker] has it in them or not. You don’t need to know that much.” “You don’t need to know that much.” Remember that line, job seekers. And take a minute (it won’t take more than that!) to read, “6 Things Job Recruiters Pay Attention to, as Determined By Science.” Let me save you the time: your name; current title/company; previous title/company; current position start and end dates; previous position start and end dates; and education. If you have been reading my articles you know I am contrarian. I look at your location, hopefully a section listing selected accomplishments, years of employment and education. If all checks out, I look at skills and experience. Regardless, you get the message: No one cares about an “Objective” or “Professional Summary.” But here’s the rub: Resumes are changing. Before you know it everyone will have a multimedia resume like those on Purzue. Why? Let’s get back to Mr. Tisch. One entrepreneur who pitched to him did not do well. But then Tisch received a video from him with animal masks and flames which was a “ridiculously over-wrought (but effective) team video.” It made the case the team members “have a personality.” It clinched the deal. Having a video, albeit probably not an “over-wrought” one, may clinch the deal for you too! Just remember: You only have a few seconds to grab the employer’s attention and get the job offer. Don’t waste it on nonsense.
My academic background is in International Relations. So, when a career counseling client comes to me with concerns about a “resume gap," I always smile (to myself) thinking about the good ole days of the “missile gap” when the U.S. thought it was behind the Soviet Union (regarding the number of missiles each side had). Common wisdom had it that the U.S. was far behind and had the catch up. The truth was actually closer to the opposite. It’s a good analogy because most people believe that the gap on their resume is a gap that needs to be explained, not filled. The problem is, if you have to explain something, it is, by definition, a problem. So, the best way to deal with a resume gap – meaning that you have been unemployed for some time – is to fill it. The question is, with what?