FPU Week 11: Working in your Strengths

Of the 13 weeks, this is the only one solely dedicated to your income. This is where we talk about careers, and the dreaded extra jobs. I thought that this would be a very interesting lesson, what with the state of the economy and the number of folks in the class facing a career crisis.

The part of this lesson that I liked best was about job hunting. And while I haven't really had the opportunity to use his method to a T, I have done some of these things pre-Dave, and can certainly vouch for their effectiveness.

I'll break these into 4 key points

  1. Identify the target. Everyone should know by now how few job openings actually make it to a typical job posting. The Mrs. and I have had a total of 6 jobs in our professional careers - None of them were posted in the paper, on job hunting websites or otherwise. Stop waiting for a opportuinty to find you. Find careers and industries that interest you. Identify companies you would like to work for. Your new hobby / part-time job is to study them and prepare to bother them.
  2. 3-2-1 Contact. Dave recommends approaching this like a new relationship with an individual. This makes a lot of sense as you are not contacting a company so much as you are interfacing with an individual at that company. Dave also suggests that you contact them 3 times in effort to gain their attention. First is an introduction letter, simply stating who you are, what your interest is with them, and to watch for your next correspondence. Second is your resume and cover letter, where you deliver the goods. When you send your credentials, they would ideally be tailored to that specific company and showing the information about you that is actually relevant to that company. Third is the most important - the follow up. That cover letter, btw, should state your specifically when you will be following up with them. The follow up is where most folks fall short and assume that they'll hear back. This is a great way to set yourself appart. That persistance will pay off.
  3. Sell the product. Sell? Yes. And the product, btw, is you. Differentiate the product - show them why you are not just like the other 20 engineers they interviewed last month. Show them why you would be more of an asset to their company than all the other applicants. This is how companies sell products and this is how you should sell you. Be prompt, be confident, be respectiful. Read the Go-Getter by Peter B. Kyne. Dave recommends this book all the time and it's fabulous. Again - follow up. Better yet, set up a follow-up appointment - in person, by phone, whaterver. Twitter it for all I care, just make the appointment and then actually do it. Between the interview and the follow-up, send them a note thanking them for taking the time out of their undoubtedly bust schedule to meet with you, and how glad you were to meet them and learn more about their company. Which reminds me - remember when you did all that research into the company and the person you would be meeitng with? That should result in some questions for the interviewer(s).
  4. For the record. Keep notes, make a spreadsheet, set alerts, whatever. Find 10 companies to contact this way. Find 4. Find 20. The point is, you will likely contact them at different times, send them different materials, and follow up at different times. How will you keep it all straight? As I was approaching graduation, I (the free-spirit) had a large spreadsheet on my wall next to my desk detailing all the pertinanet info for all of the companies I had targeted. Who, what, when, where, why and how. That spreadsheet made the whole thing possibe.
I won't pretend - this stuff is not easy to do unless you are naturally out-going. But that also means that most folks won't be doing these things. In today's economy, you've got to attack a job hunt like it is you job. Be great at your job.

What techniques have you successfully used in job hunting?


Joost Hoogstrate said...

Your post on fpu was really an eye opener. At this time when jobs are hard to come by, it’s really shows us a nice, practical and sensible way to tackle the problem. Many don’t really know the art of selling themselves to the employer. It’s true that most employers see us as products. It’s only we that don’t see ourselves that way. The employer wants to know how we could be of use to the company. The more we understand this, the better our chance a landing a job even me the toughest of circumstances. Nice thought! Please, visit http://climatarians.org to see some related thoughts!

Joost Hoogstrate

Mr. (not) the Jet Set said...

Thanks, Joost! Glad you enjoyed the post. I've found success time and time again, by billing myself as something more, something different. And then showing that.

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