20 November, 2013

What To Do When You're Skilled, Popular, Experienced And Unemployed

In yesterday's post I began answering the question "Why are so many skilled, experienced, popular, well-connected people unemployed?" I pointed out that in my 20 years of headhunting I've never seen a client hire somebody who was a total stranger to them if there was a suitable non-stranger available. I said if you are experienced, skilled, popular, well-connected and unemployed it's likely because you are a stranger to the people who can hire you and that you have to get out of the stranger category where your candidacy will move to the top of the heap. I said that becoming a non-stranger is the unfair advantage you need and that the way you get that unfair advantage is by being introduced to the people who can hire you by people you already know.  I said you need to stop spending your time on the low percentage strategy of sending resumes to strangers and spend a week making sure everybody you know understands your skills and experiences so they can have an epiphany and introduce you to somebody who can hire you. Today, I want too tell you how to make that happen.

First - and this is the boring part - I want you to make a list of everybody you know who doesn't live in a cave and who might know people who can hire you. List them by category. Neighbors. People you serve on a board with. People you went to school with. People you used to work with. People who called on you when you had a job. You get the idea. I ask you to categorize people because it helps you to remember people you might not otherwise think of. 

Then I want you to make a list of employers you think should be interested in hiring you, employers who need people like you.

Now I want you to open up your Linkedin account, your personal address book, your business card file and any other place you might have names and contact info on people who might be able to introduce you to hiring managers at your preferred employers and I want you to figure out how you're already networked to the employers you think should hire you.

Remember what I told you yesterday: in my 20 years of collecting ridiculous fees from clients not once has any client ever hired a total stranger. I told you that I have made a lot of money presenting the second-best or even third-best candidate to employers who just can't bring themselves to hire strangers. 

Who can introduce you to people who might hire you? Who can move you out of that stranger category and get you into the non-stranger category which is the category employers hire from?

Start contacting these people and telling them what you do. Don't assume they know. Tell them. 

Do this in person wherever possible. Meet them for a coffee or lunch so you can see the look in their eyes as you describe what you do. By seeing their body language and facial expressions you can literally see when you've said something that registers. Their eyes widen, they lean forward. Likewise, when you have this conversation in person you can see that deer-in-the-headlights expression people get when they don't understand what you just said. Talking to your colleagues and acquaintances in person gives you the chance to learn how to tell your story. 

\When I do live workshops I often mention my friend Jeff who learned that people don't understand when he says he's a "business analyst" so he explains to them that his company pays him to figure out how to reduce headcount and that if he doesn't do it they'll just hire somebody else who will. Nervous laughter, but you get the idea. Tell people what you actually do. Help them visualize you at work. 

When you call up somebody you haven't spoken to in 10 years, just ask for job search advice. You'll be surprised at who wants to help you. Sometimes it's the guy you once worked with that you think didn't like you - perhaps somebody you once fired or somebody you once passed over for a promotion. If you're not a jerk, you have fans out there you don't even know about. One of these fans can introduce you to your next boss.

I once "interviewed" for a job while the guy who actually got the job was literally moving into his new office right across the hall from where I was interviewing. That's the position y ou are in right now. While you're sweating over the 100th revision of your resume and sitting in the lobby waiting to talk to a total stranger, the guy who will actually get the job is sitting with the guy you're waiting to interview with being introduced to him by their mutual friend. 

Quit being a stranger. Quit sending resumes to strangers and begging strangers for an interview. Yes, people occasionally get jobs this way but nearly 100% of the professional jobs are filled by people who have been introduced to their next boss by somebody they both know. I call this "getting a professional co-signer". If somebody goes out on a limb and risks his/her relationship with the employer by introducing you, that person has, in effect, co-signed for you. The successful candidate is a friend of a friend, not a stranger. Stop being a stranger. 

I once got $26K in fees just because I called a guy whose business card I had in a book. 

Make your lists, make your calls. Somebody you already know can introduce you to your next boss.

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