It has occurred to me that searching for a job, and going through the whole hiring dealie-do, well this whole process is really nothing more than executing on sales process, a deeply personal sales process because the product you’re trying to sell is YOU.
Little disclaimer here, when it comes selling stuff I’m no expert, as a matter of fact I kinda stink at it. But I do know processes. And I do have a real knack for being able to figure out when a process used in one sitauation might have application in another, and this example peeps, is one of those processes.
For those of you not familiar with the “sales process”, there’s a bunch of them out there but basically they can all be boiled down to about six different steps. They are:
1) Identify and prospect– Know who you’re talking too and make some contacts. (Ok so its two things, but I committed to staying to six which allows me to demonstrates the missing step, adding value)
2) Qualify– Research and get an understanding of your customer’s needs.
3) Propose– Create an offer that meets their needs and yours.
4) Present– Meet and present your proposal.
5) Negotiate– Come to agreement
6) Close– Seal the deal
As I think about this process and these steps, I’ve been thinking about how people could apply them to their job searches, especially if they’re stuck or don’t know exactly how to get started. Hopefully there’s not too many of you Target folks left in that camp. However I would throw out that even you seasoned hunters might want to consider some new about job hunting and approach, maybe there’s some nugget here you hadn’t thought off or better yet, put a few more bullets in your belt when you’re out the job jungle with the other 1700 (and if the rumors are true soon to be another huge bunch more) folks out there.
Here goes, more free advice. You’re welcome.
Identify and Prospect
This is where you’re going to do your research. Some things to consider here-
Internal research, i.e. – soul searching
- Question #1 what are my super powers and why should people pay for them? We all have a few and knowing what they are will take you a long way. Practice telling them to people in 20 seconds or less. Your little speech should roll out of your mouth like a hymn. How’s this scenario sound, you bump into the hiring manager for a killer positon at a party and when they ask what you like doing all you can answer is… “Um”… Good to think a few things out before you go into the world.
- Things I hate doing. Knowing what you don’t like to do is as important as knowing what you do. Empowers you to say no.
- How much risk can I tolerate in my new role? Am I cool with a startup that looks like the greatest job ever or do I prefer corporate cultures with rules and formalities and stead paychecks?
- My perfect job(s) is (Remember that project you worked on that was your most favorite project in your entire career? Uh huh.. that one, well it just might be your perfect job) the better you can visualize it, the better you can actually do it someday. Or keep doing it if you already are lucky enough to be doing so.
Now that you know what you like, start finding the roles that fit your strengths. Minnesota is lucky enough to have a department of Economic Development, they can help with this matching. Job counselors, coaches, friends, leaders in other organizations can all provide input into this. Seek help, it will go a long way.
- Figure out who are the companies that have these roles, and more importantly, what do they call them?
- Collect data, lots and lots of data, and them, collect some more. I don’t believe you can know enough about a company where you contemplating spending more time than you do with your kids.
- Companies- who, what, when and where
- Hiring managers
- Company org structure- how does the role you want exist within the company you’re thinking about? Will also tell you how they value the role.
- Get the names and titles of as many employees as you can. Create lists of names, contact information. Keep them somewhere more formal than a business card file. I’ve been doing this for years, keep track of people I meet, taking some interest in what they do and what they’re about, and you’d be surprised how often that comes in handy. One rare compliment that came my way, and really meant a lot to me, came a few weeks ago from a former VP of HR at Best Buy. “You make connections between people and things faster than anyone I know”. Nothing says “LEVERAGE” like making good connections and being able to bring them up at the appropriate time. Critical.
- LinkedIn- Sorry Luddite friends, LinkedIn is not an option. You have to do it, and you have to it well. It’s the first stop shop every future employer is going to go to try to do a little background checking up on you. It’s become the face of your professional brand. If you don’t have a complete profile, like your picture is the blue face guy? If I’m an employer I’m thinking that A) this person doesn’t know much about job searching and B) They on par with my 80 year old mother when it comes to technical prowess. Neither conclusion of which is good.
- Networking events- This is where you can really shine. What’s that you say, you’re a closeted introvert and can stand the idea of meeting new people and getting out and about in a group of strangers? Let me assure you I’m right there with, I sort of like I’ve met everyone one in my life whom I want to meet and would be perfectly happy living in my basement. And while that feels true and comforting to me, I’ve found it not to be the case when it comes to most any other thing I can imagine except watching bowling and deer hunting.
Maybe this will help, 90% of networking, is showing up. There’s enough Extroverts (really way more than I like in the world) who will ask you a few questions which should prompt you to open up and talk about yourself.
In all seriousness, get up and put yourself out there, I predict you’ll be surprised at how it goes.
If after deep reflection you really think that any interaction with people is too much, there’s still hope in a rewarding career in the introverted world actuary sciences or accounting. My mother is accountant. You know why people become accountants? Because they don’t have the personality to become morticians.
Thank you I’m here all week.
Ask yourself, what actual needs are my target companies are trying to staff? This isn’t “We have an open head count and we need someone to fill it” That’s how the DMV works, not the real world. Matter of fact, if that’s all the company is doing, keep this blog post handy you’re going to need again in a few months. If you can figure out what business needs companies are thinking about when they post an opening, like having someone inside feeding you information.
An example for your consideration-
A company in Nashville is hiring BA’s with analytcs backgrounds to support their consumer package good business. That’s what the posting says anyway. What they really need to do is to improve their capabilities in understanding consumer behavior so they can sell more stuff. And not to consumers, to their retail customers because their competition is kicking their ass at shelf and their customers aren’t thinking brands, especially their brands, are important anymore. The BA are going to work on a new consumer measurement tool and a better category management sales system to help them drive more business with their retail customers.
How do I know that? I can read with a capital R. Data has been over the press baby. Was there a press release that said the above specifically? NO. But they’ve all but laid it out in their SEC filings, all of their strategies are outlined in annual reports and analyst briefings, and Glassdoor is littered with postings for web developers and analytics folks. They’re looking for Java, Hadoop and Python. They’re also looking for JDA Space management experience and CAD developers. They’re telling you EXACTLY what they’re doing, you just have to be able to read it from the tea leaves.
Of the companies you’ve identified which ones are really great at the role you want? Which are not? Do you want to learn how to be better/further your expertise at what you do? Lean toward “good at this already”. If you want to have impact and change the world lean towards “Not so good at this”. Free advice.
How committed are these companies to the role? They actually have the role on their books, a title and an office waiting? Great, you’re on your way. If the answer is they really need this role, but don’t have it defined yet, you’re in for an uphill battle, winnable but it will take effort and there will be casualties. This is the “I’m going to write my own job description” scenario. Works better for roles higher in the organization.
The Pay Question
Huh? You do know what you want right? Understanding your salary requirements is critical before you go chatting and negotiating. Keeping in mind you’re looking for compensation, which in my experience is combination of enjoyable work, benefits and actual pay. Only you know how to balance this. but it’s probably a good idea to do balancing act this early on so you’re not trying to do it on the fly.
Culture is SO important to mental and emotional wellbeing. (which leads to physical wellbeing) Some ideas on trying to understand work culture.
- Check out Glassdoor- see what the employees are saying.
- Network around and ask what it’s like to work at Acme?
- Check out linked in- how long have people been in position? How long have they been with the company?
When you’ve done these steps correctly you will have a nicely qualified list of companies where you want to work. A list of contacts in and around those companies you can start to research and contact to get introduced and make inroads with. And in the best case scenario, a list of jobs that you’re going to apply for. You WILL have a clear set of objectives in your head about what you want to do, how much you want to get paid and if your expectations are realistic.
AND that my dear friends is THE start of a focused search plan.
Now you’re going to fill out, contact and apply for roles that are open and waiting for you (the traditional method) AND I’m going to send some notes to hiring managers and department heads for roles that aren’t posted but that I think I would kick ass at (the all in go for it method). After all it never hurts to try, at worst you’ll have some new contacts… Remember, more touches=more chances.
One word of advice and if you look at the mind map I recommended, http://www.xmind.net/m/F3NJ/ is to keep track of where you apply. Keep track of contacts, dates, notes.. and each and every conversation and email. Sounds lame but you’ll thank me later when Gwen, the recruiter from Acme who went on her honeymoon for 4 weeks calls you back when she returns and you can just pick up right where you left off. Unless of course you’ve found a different position.. but you know, keep the options open.
In my mind this analogous to the interview process. If you get to this point, there is nothing is more important than nailing the interviews. Also nothing is more important in then keeping in mind interviews are a two way street. You friends are interviewing the company just as sure as they’re talking to you! . If after a couple interviews your SpiderSense tells you working with these folks would be double plus un-fun.. pull yourself out of the process. Don’t get hired to be hired. You deserve better.
PREP PREP and PREP SOME MORE
Prepare for the interview, if you’ve done your homework in Qualify, you’re going to be ready. But just to be double dog sure-
- Know the position you want and are interviewing for.
- Know something about the company and what they do
- How’s their business?
- How’s the financial pictures
- What’s the in the press about them?
- What are their products?
- What do you think you’re going to bring to their party?
- How does you Superpower apply to their business needs?
- Have a plan to talk about YOU.
- Rehearse. Talk to yourself. Talk to a friend. Do a mock interview, CALL ME if you no one will help you. Seriously get this right. Because you’re going to have to prove to them exactly why:
YOU are you the answer to their problems.
Now comes the difficult part that I’ve talked about here before. Glassdoor can help you understand the pay scales and culture at the company. You’re negotiating a compensation package not a salary. Once again, for goodness sake DO NOT negotiate in piece parts and please don’t undersell yourself.
Remember the lesson of the car dealer.
Sales Process – The Car Dealer
They come at you with four things to discuss; monthly payments, trade in value, extended warranty and “off the lot” price of the car. This isn’t because they’re all that complicated or they’re really working on your best interests, they do this because human beings can’t keep track of more than two things at once. While you’re feeling super about your really’sticking it to them on price because the deal you negotiated was$500 under their cost, you’ll totally forget that you sold them your old car on trade in at $800 below market value (So much easier than selling it yourself right? um no) and that you’ve agreed to a 60 month loan that will double the interest you’ll pay on the car. Yea not such a good deal now…
Salary is just a piece of the total compensation package. You’ve got vacation in there, education allowance, sabbatical (yes in the Silicon Valley they’re pretty common), family leave, medical and dental, car/transportation/parking. There’s plenty of things to negotiate.
Remember the sage words of the Teamsters “You are worth more”.
You’ve done your homework, you’ve aced the interviews, you’ve established value for you and the company, now comes the big close. If you’ve done everything correctly on the previous steps, you’re ready to close the deal
Here’s why I’m the best candidate out there for what you’re looking for.
Here’s why you’d be remiss in not hiring me
I’m smart enough
I know all about it this role
I work hard.
And darn it, people like me.
And THAT line of thinking, dear friends, put Al Franken in the US Senate.
Stay with it, I’m rooting for you and we’re all in this together.