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
  Linked In:        
Twitter:  @AfterJobClub

Saturday, May 10, 2014

Your Resume = Your Sales Brochure

Way too often, we still see candidates for jobs submitting resumes that go on and on and on and . . . . . .  6 or 7 pages is not uncommon.
These lengthy resumes as often as not also contain big blocks of paragraphs, filled with technical jargon and acronyms, in 8 or 9 point type, that are daunting to get through.

The problem . . . .Even for the most skilled readers of resumes  --  recruiters and staffing specialists  --   these lengthy resumes are hard to read and even harder to figure out if the candidate is a possible fit for a position.

The problem for candidates is that these rambling, hard-to-read, unfocused, and irrelevant resumes rarely get read.  The candidate is out of the running before they even began to compete. 

The cause of the problem
Why do job seekers still produce these lengthy resumes that don’t get read?  Derived from talking with hundreds of job seekers, the answer to this question seems attributable to 2 factors: (1) Misunderstanding on the job seeker’s part of how hiring happens, and (2) Lack of knowledge about what makes a resume effective. 

(1) Misunderstanding of hiring:  They’re looking for you.  Actually they’re not.
Job seekers labor under the misunderstanding that the company is looking for them,  If they just put down everything they’ve ever done, a recruiter or manager will wade through and discover a sought-after skill or ability, and exclaim: “This is just the person we’ve been looking for!” 

In reality, few of these dissertations ever get read in their entirety.  Recruiters and managers just don’t have the time to plow through pages of paragraphs.  Such documents can even be seen as unresponsive to needs and requirements cited by the employer.  After a few seconds, the recruiter or manager put the document aside to be read at a later time - the problem for the job seeker is that later rarely comes. 

(2) What makes a resume effective?
A resume is effective if it is relevant to the job applied for, focused on the job’s requirements, and shows instances of the job seeker utilizing the required skills and knowledge with results, i.e., Accomplishment Statements.  A resume should tell the reader if the job seeker is a possible fit without too much work on the reader’s part.  If it gains enough attention from the recruiter or hiring manager to get them to want to learn more about you, and results in an e-mail or call, it’s done its job. 

The Solution
There’s a better way.  Learn to think differently about you and your resume.  Here’s how to produce a resume that sells you:

Step 1:  Realize that when you are on the job market, YOU are in sales.  You are selling your abilities as possible solutions to employers’ problems and needs.

How do you sell YOU?  By
(A. ) Identifying what makes you desirable, and therefore employable, as a potential candidate, and
(B.) Enlisting the aid of your sales tools.  For the job seeker, a core sales tool (although not their only sales tool) is their resume. 

Step 2:  Think of YOUR RESUME as a sales tool -- your Sales Brochure.  Just as salespeople use their product sales brochures to assist their sales by highlighting the benefits their products provide, use your resume to accomplish the same thing.  Think of it as your sales brochure!  It won’t get you the job, but it can open the door to opportunity.                         

Think about a salesperson of a familiar product such as a vacuum cleaner.  The vacuum cleaner salesperson is going to talk to the customer (1) about the customer’s needs, (2) the tasks the vacuum cleaner can perform (features) that satisfies these needs, and (3) how it can make the customer’s life easier (benefits). 

Job seekers should focus on the same things!  Learn to think, talk, and write about your work experience in a way that focuses on:
(1) The needs and requirements of your customer - the prospective employer,
(2) Tasks or duties you perform that satisfy the employer's needs and requirements, and
(3) How your performance of these duties made the life of previous employers easier, i.e, better and/or less problematic.  

Step 3:  Now, capture this information on your resume. 
(1) Put down on paper the skills, strengths, abilities, knowledge, education, and expertise you possess that relate to and satisfy the needs/requirements of your potential customer – the employer. 
(2) List tasks or duties you have performed that illustrate your experience in
 Satisfying these requirements. (These become bullet points under each job title.)
(3) Show results.  (Also in your bullet points)

VoilĂ ! You have a resumes that sells You.  In fact, your resume has become your “sales brochure.”  Your sales-oriented resume shows that you meet the needs and requirements that are stated by a potential employer, provides evidence of you doing so in previous jobs, and sells them on the possibility that you may be a candidate worth talking to.  Its job is help you sell YOU and it does.

Benefits of a sales approach
There are several benefits to learning to think like a salesperson and taking a sales-oriented approach when producing your resume.

1.  Takes the sting out of rejection
“Thanks but no thanks!”  Job seekers talk about dreading the rejection that comes with being passed over, coming in second, or not getting considered at all.  A sales-approach can mitigate the sting of rejection by taking the “personal” out of it when you begin to look at yourself as a product that simply did not meet the current needs of this particular customer.  It’s a rejection of the product you are selling    not a personal rejection of you as a person.

2.  Get real
Taking the myth and misunderstanding out of how hiring happens helps you get real or realistic; forewarned is forearmed.  A sales-oriented approach keeps you focused on submitting resumes that are grounded in reality, showing the potential employer that you have what they need.  They’re not looking for and are not willing to plow through pages upon pages to find you.  But if you make it easy for them to find you, they just may.

3.  Focused resumes get read
Recruiters today say that initial scans of resumes last seconds - 30 seconds or less, and some admit to 7-second-scans of resume.  A sales-oriented resume uses the top half of the front page to feature relevant information, enticing the reader to read on and learn more about you.

4.  Prepares you to interview relevantly
Resumes don’t get you jobs, but they can assist you in gaining enough attention to get an interview.  A sales-oriented resume provides the interviewer with items to ask you about and even some direction for the flow of the interview.  You are already prepared to provide relevant and succinct answers to their questions by having prepared a focused, sales-oriented resume.

5.  Ups the odds that you will be contacted
The Big Benefit is that producing a focused and relevant resume - your sales brochure - increases the possibility that you will be contacted by the future employer. 

Sell employers on the idea that you have what they want
So sell employers on the idea that you have what they want, and are worth learning more about in an initial phone screen and subsequent interview.  Build your resume – your sales brochure –  around ways you have used your abilities to help your previous employers.  Showing what you have done, and citing evidence of your accomplishments to back up your claim, sells employers on the idea that you may be a candidate worth talking to.
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
  Linked In:        
Twitter:  @AfterJobClub