Friday, May 23, 2014

6 Points-of-Contact to Make the Sale, or . . . Get the Job

Job Seeker:  “I’ve applied to over 100 companies, and not one person has gotten back to me.  What am I doing wrong?"
Career Coach: “Well, that’s 1 Point of Contact.  to go.”

               Or . . .

Job Seeker:  “Well, I did what you said.  I went to the Job Fair, and followed up with everyone I talked to, and no one got back to me!"
Career Coach: “Well, that’s 2 Points-of-Contact.  4 or 5 or 6 or 10+ to go.”

Professional salespeople used to say it takes 6 Points-of-Contact - referred to POCs - to make the sale.  What they’re really talking about is follow-up.

Salespeople talk about the fact that it takes time, and several interactions, to go from introducing yourself, and your product or service, to a prospect, to the point of finalizing the deal in which the customer actually buys something!  And . . .

  The more complex the sale - the longer this can take. 
  The more complex the sale - the more steps between saying “Hello”  and saying “Thanks for the sale!”

What does this have to do with finding a job? . . . Everything! 
Finding a job requires "selling a prospective employer" on the premise that you can do the job!  Successful salespeople follow-up – multiple times – with their prospective buyers before they make the sale and successful job seekers do the same.  Finding a job generally takes multiple interactions with a prospective employer before you are offered the job - or, in sales jargon, before you make the sale!  Looking for a job is all about sales -- selling yourself.

Look at it this way:  Since finding a job is all about sales, when you are looking for a job, you are searching for a buyer of your skills, knowledge, expertise, aptitudes, attitudes, track record, education and certifications that you possess.  Your buyer is the prospective employer. 

  If an employer has enough need for your capabilities, and
  If you have enough of the capabilities the employer is seeking,
● A deal is made. 
• In other words:  You’re hired.
• In other words:  You’ve made the sale.                             

The complex sale - Why it takes so lon-n-n-n-ng!
In today’s employment market, it generally takes months to find a job.  Why does it take so long for an employer to make up their mind and hire someone?  Because making a hiring decision to bring an unknown entity into their organization, and hoping that the new employee can actually perform as they purport to be able to, has a high degree of risk attached to it. 
What if something goes wrong:
● . . . the new employee can’t perform to expectations, or
● . . . the new employee can’t fit into the organization's culture, or
● . . . the new employee is only using the position as a placeholder until their dream job comes through? 
It’s an expensive mistake on the part of the hiring firm who now must start the process all over again.

So the hiring organization tries to minimize the risk every way possible.   Employers - the buyer of the service the job seeker/prospective employee provides - generally have a multi-step process in place to raise the probability that no costly hiring mistakes are made.  A series of vetting steps are in place, from the initial screen of a potential employee’s resume and application to a multiple-step interview process by stakeholders.  It’s a complex sale.

You, as the job seeker, need to convince a series of decision makers, over a period of time, that you can do the job.  If you feel like you are jumping through a set of hoops . . . you are.  You are selling yourself in what is aptly named a a complex sale.  When you are offered the job, you have made the complex sale.

The "Hiring Shuffle" 
It’s easy to get lost in the “hiring shuffle" when there are multiple candidates vying for the same position and the decision takes months to be made.  So, it’s your job to find ways to stay in touch and stay visible.  Just as good salespeople expect to make 6 or 10 or 16 or more contacts to make the sale, in looking for a job, discover ways to do the same.  Here are some ways:

1.  Stay visible - stay connected
  There are a lot of ways you can gain visibility and stay in  
  touch with introductory and follow-up:
  - e-mails
  - phone calls                                                    
  - letters
  - notes/thank you notes sent via USPS with your business
    card enclosed
  - networking with individual contacts and in networking 
  - social media activity, including Linked In at a minimum

2.  You can also . . . .
  - set up a website and announce it to your network
  - write articles or share relevant articles with your network contacts including prospective employers 
     with whom you have struck up a relationship
  - blog
  - secure speaking engagements
  - volunteer where you’ll meet helpful contacts and prospective employers
  - attend association meetings, neighborhood activities, events, job fairs, conferences, courses
  - get on committees
  - help out at conferences  . . .  
 . . . . . . . . . . all in the vein of seeking to increase your visibility among those who can help connect you with the right folks.

Multiple interactions with employers
So, expect multiple interactions - 6 and probably more POCs - with most employers in order to be hired. 

Multiple interactions with support network
Expect multiple interactions with people in your support network who can help - again, 6 and probably more POCs or follow-up.

 Here Are Some Rules of Thumb
Be proactive with employers.  Don’t just sit, wait, and hope to hear.
Let’s take, for example, a Job Fair you attend.  How do you use POCs to take it from a 1-time meeting to a possible interview?
1.  POC-1 may be a job fair you attend.
2.  A sincere thank you note to each recruiter/manager you met is POC-2 (with updated and relevant resume attached).
3.  A follow-up e-mail, call, or USPS letter re-expressing your interest, qualifications, and enthusiasm is POC-3. 
4.  A new certification is reason to reconnect with an updated resume in POC-4. 
5.  Asking a colleague you met in your networking to hand-carry a resume to HR or a manager and put in a good word for you is POC-5. 
6.  Getting a phone call or phone screen interview is POC-6. 
7.  A follow-up thank you “sales e-mail” in which you emphasize a couple points of the discussion from your phone screen interview is POC-7.
8.  You’ve got an in-person interview - POC-8.
9.  Follow-up thank you notes to each person who interviewed you is POC-9. . . . . . . 
You get the idea!  There are a lot of ways to maximize your initial contact with that recruiter or manager you met at the Job Fair.  Each POC lets the firm know that you are serious about your search and demonstrates your interest in their firm.  Each POC keeps you visible.  And, here's the point, each POC that keeps you visible, in touch, and moves you to the next step is a “small sale” with the aim of leading to the big sale:  “You’ve got the job!

Follow-up an initial networking meeting or activity with anyone you meet (Point-Of-Contact-1) in your job search - multiple times.
1.  POC-1 is the initial meeting.
2.  A sincere thank you note is POC-2. 
3.  A follow-up e-mail or call 3 or so weeks later updating your contact on your status is POC-3. 
4.  Sending an article you wrote, or some helpful bit of information on a topic of interest to your network colleague is POC-4. 
5.  Extending an invitation to your colleague to some event, get-together, or just a coffee on you is POC-5. 
6.  Sending a progress note on how your meeting went with a person your colleague referred you to is POC-6. 
7.  Updating your colleague - who is a reference - on the interview is POC-7. . . . 
You get the idea!  Find ways to stay in touch and remain visible.

Multiple contacts keep your network contacts and prospective employers engaged and interested in you.   
Plan, schedule, and chart your follow-up activity. 
- Network contacts should hear from you every 3 weeks or so; if they don’t, they make the obvious assumption:  You’ve been hired!  
- With employers, after an initial informal meeting to network, or formal interview, try to gauge how often you should stay in touch.  And don’t be afraid to ask!
Use multiple media to stay in touch.   
You engage people, or get their attention, in different ways.  Sometimes an e-mail may get overlooked but a phone call gains attention.  Or a letter or note gets a response while a call did not.  "Different stroke for different folks," as they say.  By utilizing different media, you raise the probability that you'll get their attention as staying visible on their radar screen!

The # of POCs depend on what you’re selling.   
Here;s a simplistic equaiton that makes this  point:
                   The higher the level of position
                + The greater the responsibility
                + The higher the compensation          
                = The longer the sale will take.

Organizations may search a year for a senior director, VP, or general manager/CEO,
whereas hiring a junior level engineer may take 3 months.

Price matters.
     The lower the price  = the shorter the selling time
     The higher the price = the longer the selling time

Little sales lead to the big sale.    
Recognize “small sales” and celebrate these successes along the way.  Small sales lead to big sales; they're all steps on the path to your next job or role.
- Hearing back that your resume is being reviewed and considered is a small sale.
- Getting a meeting with a referral who is well connected in your industry is a sale.  
- Getting past a "gate keeper" and connecting with a key contact inside a firm is a sale.
- Making it past an initial phone screen is a sale. 
- Speaking at your professional society is a sale and if a audience member compliments you it’s another sale. 
- Hearing back from a hiring manager that while they have no openings now, he or she is keeping an eye open for you is a sale.
-  Hearing from this same hiring manager they learned of an opportunity at a colleague's firm and thought of you is a sale.

Each obstacle passed - each hoop jumped through - that leads to the next step is a small sale and a success.  Celebrate it and then plan your next POC!
For additional information on marketing yourself and your capabilities, please refer to the many articles found under the Articles tabs of the AJC–Career Strategy website.
 ____________________________________________________________________________                 AJC - for Your Career Path
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