Job hunting is nothing more than a marketing campaign for a unique product – you! I personally believe the only people that should be allowed to teach job hunting are marketing professionals, because they are the people who know how to market and get results.
How am I different from all the others who help write resumes, cover letters, and do career counseling? I don’t teach job hunting. I teach marketing, and the rest takes care of itself.
I have an obsession for helping people find jobs, and trying to figure out the ultimate job hunting formula. Having studied job hunting for the past eight years in great detail, I’ve found successful job hunting boils down to only four steps.
Step One: Be Proactive
In reality most people don’t look for jobs, the job actually looks for them. If you respond to an advertisement in the media, you are simply being reactive, not proactive.
The major problem with not being proactive in your job search is that even if you are successful in landing a job through a published source, you will at best simply end up helping someone else meet their goals, dreams and desires, by solving their problem. They came looking for you with their problem, and you simply responded.
Let’s turn the tables for a moment. Stop and think about all the things you really want to do. Next, consider all your strengths, capabilities and competencies. Then find people who could best benefit from your skill sets, and approach them directly.
In her book The Dark Before the Dawn, Theresa Castro writes that 70 percent of Americans dislike their jobs. Why? Because they did not choose them. They simply reacted to an opportunity that became available, maybe a “quick fix” at the time. Perhaps they needed a job to meet their financial needs, and took what was immediately available.
Another reason that it pays to be proactive is that if a job is advertised, you face very stiff competition. It is statistically proven that 70 to 80 percent of all openings are filled through network contacts. The best jobs are already taken through networking, the ads are just the “leftovers.” And there are a lot of hungry people after them!
Bottom line – Stop being reactive, start being proactive. Proactively search for opportunities you want to pursue, instead of the opportunities that others want for you. Learn to take back control of your life.
I believe searching for a job is probably one of the most exciting things you can do in your life. By deciding first what you really want to do, you could end up with an amazing career.
It’s not about just getting a job. It is about making a contribution. I believe your life has purpose, and once you find out what it is, you’ll be able to make a significant contribution.
Step Two: Know Who to Contact
Most people have no idea of the choices available to them when it comes to job opportunities. A key principle of marketing is to identify all possible opportunities.
This is done through market research – getting the facts, and uncovering hidden opportunities.
Many people get frustrated and give up a job search because after sending out 50 or 100 resumes they end up getting rejected. They stop trying!
Most people have no idea how big the universe of opportunity really is. Did you know that there are about 14 million companies across the USA? We don’t have enough hours in the day (or a lifetime) to contact them all. Granted, many are small companies, but Microsoft was once a small company. And over 80 percent of all new jobs in America are created by small companies. So where do you find all these companies, and how do you get information on them?
Online searches – You will find a number of good databases by entering “business directory” and an industry into your favorite search-engine.
Trade magazines – Every profession has its own trade magazine, which can be a goldmine of information, including articles from industry experts. Trade magazines are essential to your job search because they uncover opportunity. When you know what’s going on in certain companies, you have a reason to contact them – a reason for people to want to hear from you. For example, nothing impresses a writer more than someone calling and expressing thanks for a great article!
For a list of trade magazines, click here.
This site has a list of all the major trade magazines in the U.S., with links to websites.
Trade shows – Every industry has its own trade shows – probably the best place to network with people and meet the real “movers and shakers.”
I am not talking about career fairs, but professional trade events where you will find CEOs and top executives of many companies. In most cases, it is not expensive or difficult to get into a trade show. You can find these events listed by city at this website: http://www.eventseye.com/fairs/event_l381.html
Another alternative is to go to companies’ websites and look at upcoming events. By knowing which shows a certain company will attend, you have a golden chance to meet with key people from that organization.
Trade associations – Every industry has its own trade association, as well, which provides a place where industry professionals can go to share knowledge in seminars and conferences. You absolutely must hook up with the trade association for your chosen industry.
By my estimate, there are some 30,000 trade associations in the USA, so you will not run short on finding one that meets your particular needs or requirements. They are a great place to network, attend talks, and learn more about what is going on in your industry.
Local business license office – Many people I meet love to work with “start ups.” The place to find these is at your local county license office. Any new business needs to register for a business license, and you should be able to obtain a list of those companies. The business license office may charge a small fee, but it will be nominal.
Chambers of Commerce – Your local chamber of commerce is also a great source for local companies. Most respectable businesses are registered at the local chamber of commerce office. Plus the chamber regularly holds talks and meetings, and it’s a great place to network.
Newspapers – Most newspapers have some sort of directory on local businesses. Simply call your local newspaper and ask. In the Bay Area, we have the Silicon Valley Business Journal, which lists the region’s firms and includes profiles on many of them. Similar business journals can be found in major markets all over the country.
I could go on and on, but I think you can see there is no shortage of people to contact if you know where to look.
Step Three: Know What to Say
Knowing what to say is what we call in the marketing world the “Value Proposition.” It’s a proposition of value to someone else. Most people struggle with this area significantly. And unless you are trained in marketing, you will find it difficult to write a powerful value proposition.
Notice any ad on television or other media that gets your attention, and it will this:
Attention — Interest — Desire — Action
It gets your attention and gains your interest. It creates and stimulates desire, then it leads you to action.
When you write to a prospective employer identified through your market research, your letter must follow the same structure. This is a defined rule for all marketing communications.
Step Four: Follow Through and Close
The ability to follow through and close is called sales. However, most people have not had sales training. Did you know that a follow up phone call after a mailing can increase the response by anywhere from three to five hundred times? It is statistically proven.
But how many times have you followed up after you sent out your resume? Or did you just accept a rejection, instead of finding out why, and perhaps getting a referral to someone else that may hire you?
As you can see, job hunting is not very difficult if you go about it in a logical and systematic fashion. Job hunting, in my opinion, always boils down to marketing. Once you make that connection, the rest is easy.