Getting Your Foot in the Door for Your Job Search
You have to get interviews to convince hiring decision makers that you have the right product for the situations.
This a continuation of the November 29 article, “How Many Scouts Are You Engaging in Your Job Search?”
Cheryl lost her job 3 months ago when her company divested the business unit in which she worked. She has met 2 times with Madison to get job search suggestions. Madison is a friend and classmate who conducted a job search that resulted in landing a great position as general manager of a consumer products business unit. Their discussion today will focus on how to convince decision makers to discuss job opportunities in their organizations with you.
Madison: How is your job search going?
Cheryl: I have made progress since our last discussion. I developed my Personal Summary and have identified a situation that cries out for me.
Cheryl: My Career Summary positions me as a problem solver who gets to the heart of increasing market shares by developing and executing marketing plans. My uniqueness is in my ability to implement programs that sustain product performance.
My Career Highlights provide accomplishments, the evidence to support my Career Summary.
Madison: I could have told you that about yourself when we had our last discussion. I was hoping that you would recognize the value you offer and your uniqueness without my prodding.
Cheryl: Thank you for the validation.
Madison: By the way, I would have hired you if I had the right situation for the Cheryl Product. Right now, market shares for my products are growing.
Cheryl: About that situation I identified. I used the Concentric Networking/Referral Model you shared with me to lead me to the situation. (Cheryl shows the model.)
Cheryl: I connected with a consumer products marketing consultant who works with companies that want to launch new products or are experiencing declining market shares. He is an MBA classmates of one of my professional colleagues at my old company. He identified a business unit that has been experiencing declining market shares for the past 3 years. The Marketing Director was recently terminated. My contact even provided the name of the hiring decision maker, the General Manager of the business unit.
Madison: That is the kind of results you can get when you focus your job search and make it easy for people to assist you.
Cheryl: This is my challenge. My network contact would like to refer me, but he does not have a strong relationship with the hiring decision maker. He cannot serve as a “trust transfer agent”. This bring us to the focus of our discussion today, connecting with hiring decision makers. If I can get in for a discussion with the decision maker, I am confident that I can make the sale, convince him that I have the right product for his situation. I need to get my foot in the door.
Madison: Terminating the Marketing Director indicates that declining market shares is a significant problem. Remember that your competitors are also trying to get their foot in the door. Your competitors include job seekers who have identified the situation and search firms seeking a search engagement. I am quite sure that the decision maker is inundated with email messages and phone calls.
Cheryl: And, he still has to execute his daily management responsibilities.
Madison: He probably does what I do to ensure that I can focus on my day-to-day responsibilities while I address other priorities such as filling a critical staff opening.
Cheryl: What do you do?
Madison: I create filters that allow me to control the access of others to me. My time is a critical resource. I don’t want unwanted intrusions.
Cheryl: What filters have you established?
Madison: I empower Virginia, my administrative assistant, to filter attempts to access me. I communicate my priorities to Virginia so that she knows which attempts to connect with me are important. I also communicate the names of professional colleagues, business partners, vendors, friends with whom I want to stay connected, and trusted network contacts. Virginia declines attempts that should not pass through the filters. By the way, Virginia also screens my email and LinkedIn messages. Phone calls on my office land line to me are forwarded to Virginia. I do not give my cell phone number to individuals who do not meet my filter requirements. And, people with whom I share my cell phone number do not share it with others.
Cheryl: Your filters sound like barriers that are almost impossible to penetrate.
Madison: Tough to get through, but not impossible.
Cheryl: Tell me about the possibilities.
Madison: Let’s focus on my filters—my top priorities. close professional colleagues, business partners, vendors, close friends, and trusted network contacts. If I were conducting a personal job search campaign, I would use tactics to get through filters.
Cheryl: Okay Madison, let me in on your tactics.
Madison: I am enjoying this. It is like unfolding a mystery.
Cheryl: I am all ears.
Madison: You have to do your research. You have already identified a potential right situation for your personal product through your networking. There is a strong indication that the situation is a high priority for the hiring decision makers.
Your additional research should focus on getting through the other filters. Check out the decision maker’s LinkedIn page and other information you can gather on him through your internet searches. Look for common connections, connections that the decision maker and you have in common or you can establish through a third person. For example, for what companies has he worked? To what organizations does he belong? Where did he earn his degrees?
Cheryl: This is like detective work.
Madison: Yes. You are gathering information to make the case for the decision maker to grant access to him. Another path could be articles he has written or speeches he has made that relate to the situation you have identified. This could also be a “sweet spot” for gaining access.
Cheryl: These are great suggestions! How should I approach him? Should I call or send an email?
Madison: There are pros and cons with calls and emails. Calls can provide a quicker path to access than emails. However, calls can catch a person off guard. Your call, though related to a priority or consistent with other filters, may not be at a good time. There may be a challenging situation the person is addressing. The call may be viewed as an unwelcomed intrusion. The reaction may be to just get you off the line. Your call may not be even be answered.
Cheryl: I have received those ill-timed calls. Sometimes my responses have been rude or very short. Yes, my intention was to get that person off my line.
Madison: Introductory emails tend to be less intrusion. People read email messages when it is convenient for them. The information you gather through networking may inform you of the decision maker’s preference for calls or email messages. Or, information about the administrative assistant that can facilitate your connection with her or him.
Cheryl: You are really schooling me.
Madison: Remember that the purpose of your approach is get on the decision maker’s calendar. Whether you call or send an email, the first thing you say or the person reads will determine whether the person will tune you out or continue to listen or read. I call this first thing the “attention getter”. This could be a reference to the common connections you discovered through your research.
Cheryl: Got it! What’s next?
Madison: I call the next thing the “bait”. This should be a brief statement of the situation and that you may have something that addresses the situation. (You may have the right product.)
Cheryl: This is intriguing.
Madison: This is where the phone call and the email diverge. Attention spans tend to be shorter on the phone versus reading a message. For phone calls, I suggest a brief statement of your success addressing the situation. For emails, I suggest that you list 3 accomplishments via bullet points that support your success claim.
Then, I suggest a “call to action”, the path to scheduling time on the decision maker’s calendar. For phone calls, ask if the decision maker is available at a certain time. Let the listener respond so that you can reach agreement on a time.
For emails, state that you will call to schedule a discussion. Communicate a generic timing such as the week of. State that the person can call you or respond by email if it is more convenient for them. If you have hit the “bull’s eye” on right situation/right product, you may receive a response before your follow-up.
Cheryl: I am going to get right on getting my foot in the door. Thank you for the very useful suggestions. I will keep you posted on my progress.
Are you finding it difficult to get your foot in the door?
What suggestions or tactics would you like to share on convincing hiring decision makers to interview you?
What job search experiences would you like to share?
What filters have you used to control access to you?
What would you do to penetrate your filters?
Do you know your “personal product”?
What are your “right situations”?
I invite you to share your comments, experiences, and suggestions. This helps me provide information that may help you address your career opportunities and challenges.
Fields of Success offers complimentary coaching sessions. Visit the Contact page on the Fields of Success website to schedule a session.
Our next article will focus on Step 5 in the Personal Selling Process, ‘Convince Decision Makers to Hire You”.
Linwood Bailey is a career coach and the author of The Business of Me: Your Job … Your Career … Your Value. The Business of Me provides a career management process and information designed for today’s business professional. Since 2008, Linwood has enabled business professionals to manage their careers. Linwood, the been there coach, provides innovative career management solutions derived from his 34 years of experience managing functions and people in multiple industries, regions, and corporate cultures.
Founder, Fields of Success, LLC
Enabling professionals to convert career challenges into career success stories.
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