At some point in your career, you will need to convince someone to meet with you whether in an informal introduction to explore fit or a formal interview for a current job opening. Doing this well will determine if you get the opportunity you seek or not. My team and I see job seekers make the same mistakes repeatedly, so here is some of our collective advice to help you get that face time (or Zoom time).
Are you really a fit?
Does this company and opportunity look like it will meet your career goals? This may be an obvious first step but when hundreds of people apply for a job and less than 5% have even the basic qualifications, I suspect many people don’t even read what the job is or what the company does. Don’t be one of these people. Focus your energy on companies and opportunities that look like you will excel in. After looking under the hood it may not be a fit, but that is a next step.
Stay as high up as possible
When first reaching out, stay as high as possible in the organization. Reach out to the person who would be a final decision-maker. In small to mid-sized organizations, this might be the President or at least a VP. Better to be referred down than across or up.
Try not to go in cold. Find a connection to make an introduction. They don’t need to be a friend; they just need to know of you and that you’re a decent person. Find someone in the same association with mutual connections or kids who go to the same school. Check LinkedIn for mutual connections and groups. If there is a job posting of interest – don’t apply first. Come in from a referral or go direct to the hiring manager. Eventually, you will be asked to fill out their application or apply but now they know who you are.
Our social world can enable us to become more familiar to people. We can build trust just in how we show up and connect. Once you have identified your target person(s) start to follow them on social media. Like and comment on their posts. Join mutual groups and participate. Share and post and use similar #s. Also check out a person’s LI profile a few times over two weeks before you send your email. All of this will help you feel more familiar to them and they will be more curious about what you want.
If you try to be everything for all possible job opportunities you will be a word cloud that just blends into the crowd. Put a stick in the ground! Examine, explore, and get clear on what you want, your purpose and passion, and where your highest value is. Clearly communicate what you, uniquely you, have to offer. You are selling your value so you need to share who you can best help, how you can help and why you are a good bet. Keep it under 3 short paragraphs since you only need to create enough interest and intrigue to get a meeting. Plus, the reader will go to your LinkedIn profile for more detail anyway.
If you know enough about the company and industry, then speak in terms of what their needs and challenges are and how you will help resolve and meet their goals. If you don’t know, either do more homework or stay generic.
This needs to be all about your career objectives, where your highest value is, your accomplishments to substantiate this value and keywords. Make sure accomplishments are specific (numbers, timelines, and measurable impact) and use words like built, developed, exceeded and achieved. Do not repeat your recent job responsibilities – putting what you accomplished will stand out. Ten years of work history is sufficient but if earlier work history is relevant, just list the companies or projects. Make sure you address any big gaps without raising more questions and keep your resume under 2 pages with lots of white space.
LinkedIn, Facebook, Twitter, your groups and blogs
Take the time to ensure that all these sites amplify your value and are consistent with your resume. Use LinkedIn to feature white papers, blogs, awards, and professional recommendations (get at least one of these per job). Inconsistencies communicate that you don’t know who you are or what your strengths are or, even worse, that you might be stretching the truth.
Network, Network, and Network
Be different – stand out from the crowd. Have a 30 second commercial on your perfect opportunity and the value you have to offer. Ask a person who they know or how they could help you. Information gathering interviews are also a great way to learn more about a new industry, current trends and get referrals. People like to help, just make sure you have set questions, respect their time, and follow up with a thank you.
Now FOLLOW UP!
Be creative and add value. Sometimes your first try to reach out or follow up went to junk mail, got lost in a pile of other candidates, or just got buried in a busy inbox. If you are confident that you are a good fit, act like your contact will be thrilled to get you on his or her team. Keep up the dialogue until he/she says yes or no. Use email, InMail, Twitter, phone calls, and text messages just space it out so as not to be creepy. If he/she says no, clarify when to try again.
If you are looking for some extra help to clarify and articulate your messaging, communicate your value, build your online presence and create a search plan check out our other blogs for more advice or join our Step Up Your Career bootcamp.