How Can We Help?
by Aaron Cohen and Laura Cohen, ETP Professional Members since 2005 and Faculty Leaders
We get lots of e-mail. A lot of it is spam (even with good filters); much of it is from family; a large chunk relates to volunteer organizations—you cannot underestimate the importance of e-mail in running these organizations. However, through our work with Empowering Today’s Professionals, we often get variations on the following letter:
Dear Aaron and Laura,
Our mutual friend Marci L. suggested I get in touch with you. I am a results oriented strategic planner with 20 years of experience in the healthcare and pharmaceutical industries with a strong track record in marketing and computer systems. I have been out of work for three months after being laid off from a BIG COMPANY where I had worked for seven years.
After recovering from the initial shock, I got some professional assistance polishing my resume, and am now networking for a job. I haven’t been getting any results from applying for jobs that seem to match my skills—there is a lot of competition for the few jobs out there. If you know of any leads I might follow, or have
suggestion for improving my job search please let me know.
Where do we even start? How does professional polishing of a resume help without the context of the job for which one is applying? What does networking for a job really mean? Networking is an ongoing professional activity. Looking for a job is a completely separate activity that often involves employing your professional network.
You seem to have a good background in an industry that is contracting in NJ—but you already knew that. The fact that there are few jobs is not necessarily a problem, as you only need one. Now how do you find that job, or help it find you.
From a strategic point of view, nothing beats networking, if you do it right. First order of business is to accept your role as CEO of ME, Inc. You report to your board of directors—those people in your life to which you have a responsibility. There are no personal decisions, just business ones. You wear all the hats (research, development, marketing, sales, etc.) and there are no excuses—just this quarter’s results. This is a very powerful concept, but needs constant reinforcement. It easily slips away amidst the hubbub of every day. I really recommend Rod Colon’s book Win the Race for 21st Century Jobs.
Now, let’s discuss some valuable stuff about Job Search:
A. Value Proposition:
You need to understand and be able to articulate your value proposition. This is the core of your resume and your networking efforts. It becomes the heart of your elevator pitch. This requires thought, soul-searching, practice, and revision.
What is it that the potential employer gets when they choose you to be part of their team?
- What exactly are you great at and most able to offer to an employer?
- Who needs these skills?
When I read your resume, I get a great idea of the job description. I get very little idea of what Jill did to make that special. When I read your resume I should see you and your accomplishments shining through a thin veneer of description. I should see specific achievements (as quantitative as possible) that easily translate into business created, or $ and time saved. What did YOU do (not the team); how did that translate into a quantitative result?
This is hard. We don’t often look at what we are doing in these terms. Self-promotion may seem foreign and unnatural to a professional. Get over it; you need to become comfortable presenting your product (your value proposition) in the best possible light.
Once you have revised your resume to be about YOU, not the jobs you have held, you need to remember that this baseline resume must be tailored for each job application. Think of it as your brochure. Each job application is the response to an RFP (Request for Proposal). The CEO does not send a potential client their brochure, no matter how polished, as the response to a specific request (job description). They send a targeted proposal. Don’t ever trust the person reading your resume to connect the dots between your skills and experience, and their stated needs. Do it for them; be explicit.
This is your Dana R advertisement. Make it read like a promotional piece. There are more and more HR people and recruiters who do not want to go through the effort and trouble of posting a job ad, and getting flooded with resumes. They just troll LinkedIn.
- Make yourself and your skills easy to find.
- Make your “headline” something compelling about you and your value proposition.
- When you list your education, put your degree first, so it shows up in the summary.
- List accomplishments.
- Leave out information that leads to questions, such as job gaps.
- Join Linked-in groups (school and business alumni groups, interest groups)
- Post in those groups, and change your status posting at least weekly – it keeps your name in front of your contacts
There is nothing better than networking. Go to networking groups. Hone your elevator pitch. Have lunch with old colleagues. However, you need to network like The CEO of ME, Inc., not like a needy supplicant.
1. Everyone should already know you are looking for a job—have some other reason for getting together or chatting on the phone:
a. You need their opinion.
b. You want a better idea of how their company/department works.
c. You’re doing research.
d. You think there is someone else they need to meet.
2. Look for opportunities to be the giver, rather than the taker in each networking interaction.
3. Don’t give your networking contacts assignments they cannot succeed at performing. They won’t even try. They cannot find you a job, and they are not prepared to spend a lot of time as an uncompensated sales person for Dana, Inc. They are happy to:
a. Talk about themselves
b. Give their opinion/advise
c. Help you get a specific introduction
d. (Usually) help shepherd your credentials through their HR process.
Networking is the process of creating mutual caring relationships where you look to help others, and that comes back double. Linked-in is the tool for at least tracking those relationships, and at best helping you make targeted connections.
E. Applying for listed jobs:
- Why are you a great match?
- Who in your network can introduce you to people in that company who can advocate for you?
- How can we help you? If you are a good match for a posted job opening (70% or better match with the skills and experience required) then we are likely to be willing to be an advocate for you to get introduced to someone at that company who we know. LinkedIn is great for this.
- In order to be most effective in asking people for specific help, you need to do some research as to what or-ganizations need your skills. This could be by searching job postings on the job websites or any other way.
- Once you identify companies or departments within companies that are hiring people with your skills (and whatever other criteria you have like distance of commute etc.) then see if your LinkedIn network has peo-ple who know employees there. That’s where we are happy to make connections for you. By the way 80% of your friends and relatives and former colleagues who are employed are on LinkedIn. Even many who are students and retired are on LinkedIn. So go to your address book and start inviting. Look at their profiles and copy ideas that you like.
There is so much more:
1. Join Empowering Today’s Professionals (ETP) www.etpnetwork.org
We have been serving as volunteer faculty for a wonderful organization whose goal is to teach best practices in job search
ETP has a powerfully effective (7-Step Methodology for Job Search) process which has worked well to help people land in new jobs. Let me suggest that you take a look at the website and read the articles. You will first want to list your skills and define your value proposition.
2. Read Rod Colon’s book, Win The Race for 21st Century Jobs and master the 7-step process (it really works, but requires hard work and discipline).
3. Go to TheBreakfastClubNJ meetings.
4. Identify other general or specific (industry, professional interest) networking groups, and go to their meetings.
5. Check out group meetings and training offered by Jewish Family Service – JFS Job Seeker Group, Elizabeth (open to all).
If you want to hear more—feel free to call.
We wish you well in your search. People find it easier to help if you ask a specific favor. So I would say to you, how can I help? It is not useful to pass a resume around. It would be helpful for us to know your value proposition. Having enough knowledge of your expertise, we would be willing to introduce you to some companies that we have connections with.
All your friends and family want to help, but they can help well if they know more about what you do.
This is how you get started. As CEO of ME, Inc. it is your full-time job until you find a job. Then it is your part-time job as you fulfill your other ETP objectives (read the website and the book). As Rod would say, “Keep Networking Alive”
Aaron and Laura
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