5 Job Campaign and Life Success Tips

July 29, 2009

This morning I heard these inspirational insights from someone who had just landed an executive-level position after a six-month search. With his permission, here are his lessons/suggestions:

  1. Get a support group. You need a team outside your family to bolster your search, provide candid feedback, and hold you accountable for your weekly activities. If you don’t have such a group, find or start one.
  2. For VP and above jobs, leads come from networking and retained recruiters, not the job boards. In other words, if you’re sitting around waiting for a VP-level job to be posted, prepare to stay in situ for a long time.
  3. Use deep networking with a wide approach. In other words, create, build and use your network to build a broad base from which to mine opportunities. Then dig deeply within the target companies you select. He spent 4 months researching and drilling down and interviewing with the company that just hired him.
  4. Find a brand and sell it. He took the elevator pitch to a new level by branding himself in a few simple, cogent, pithy words: Influence. Insight. Innovation. He’d then expound as requested.
  5. The best prepared win. He spent 10 to 50 hours preparing for each interview, including a PowerPoint presentation on what he’d do when hired. When interviewed, he would lead with behavioral interview questions and provide the answers. He developed metrics that would measure his impact on the company if asked—and he was.

Finally but most importantly, he viewed his job search as his most important life lesson ever. “I learned that life is built on relationships in this order: God, my wife, my children, my family, my friends, my network connections, and then business.”

All this was driven home when his interviewing process was stopped by the HR director in the middle of what appeared to be a winning campaign. “Rather than be depressed, I concluded that God was God and I was not. So I let it be. Then my wife wrote me a letter (yikes!) saying ‘I’m lonely and don’t feel connected with you.’ Fortunately, she proposed a solution: ‘Let’s watch the movie FIREPROOF and take the love there.’ I did, we did and now our good marriage is great.”

He repaired relationships with an estranged daughter of 14 years from his first marriage; he’s now driving her to her dorm for her freshman year in college. For his other 4-year old daughter, he vowed never to turn down a chance to dance with her…which they did recently in a taco cabana restaurant at her request. His “miracle” 1-year-old baby boy required surgery to repair his lung; the surgery scar binds them together.

He also renewed friendship with a long-time buddy, networked his way into a great stream of relationships, and plans to keep all them current while in his new position.

His conclusion: “I’m grateful I lost my job. It brought me closer to those who mean the world to me, and showed me that work, while important, is not the measure of a man.”

His search took six months. But the process was priceless. It takes time in these times to undertake a journey and arrive whole at your destination. Live the process with complete presence to claim the destiny you deserve.

All the best, Stan


July 11, 2009

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Five “hot” job search campaign tips for July

July 11, 2009

It’s hot just about everywhere in the U.S. except the job market as many hiring managers are taking vacations during the next two months. Here are five job search campaign tips that will help you when those managers return from vacation.

1)      If you don’t have a blog, start one. Write about topics on which you’re a subject matter expert. Add an “About” page that summarizes your job objective, value proposition, and background. Have five topics posted on your blog before publicizing it and commenting on others.

2)      Tweet about topics on your blog using Twitter. This can help drive traffic while keeping your followers mindful of your presence. Use FaceBook as well but ensure your site is professional.

3)      Join relevant groups on LinkedIn and start/participate in discussions. You can start discussions on topics you’ve written about in your blog. Remember many companies will start planning for 2010 soon…talk about issues to consider and post your opinions.

4)      Forget e-mailing companies…use postal mail. There’s nothing worse than plowing through your e-mail inbox after returning from vacation, so any missives you’ve sent may be summarily trashed. However, the snail mail pile should be less intimidating. So pick your top 25 companies/contacts and send something like the following:

  • Personal letter with a quick update on your status, something you’ve learned/achieved, and to please keep you in mind this fall
  • Personal note with an interesting article attached
  • Personal note with a link to an interesting article and/or a topic on your blog

5)      Create a 3-month calendar of important events. Who have you been wanting to meet? Industry trade shows and organizational events will restart around Labor Day. Look at the speakers and topics. Create a plan to work the important events and meet important people; don’t just attend.

Remember, a job search is a “campaign” orchestrated to constantly refresh memories about your value and why you should be hired. If you need help creating a campaign, or honing your tools including your résumé, cover letters, etc., e-mail me at stan@stanvictor.com and I’ll arrange a free introductory phone discussion.

 Stay cool!

 Stan


A Job Campaign Is NOT a Singular Event

July 6, 2009

Merriam-Webster defines the noun “campaign” as “a connected series of operations designed to bring about a particular result, e.g., an election campaign.” Let’s delve into that from a job search perspective.

Usually, the particular result you desire is meaningful employment with a reputable company at a competitive salary. But note that a campaign is a “connected series of operations.” How fast you find and land that new job depends on the campaign strategy you design and how well you execute it.

A “traditional” job campaign strategy involves the following operations:

– A compelling, error-free résumé that quantifies your most impressive accomplishments

– An equally strong cover letter that sells even if separated from your résumé

– A well researched list of targeted companies that need your skills to make money or control costs

– A coordinated series of direct mail letters, followed up by phone calls, to secure an in-person meeting

– Shining during that meeting by asking questions, listening, and then showing how your experience can solve their problems such that you’re constantly invited back for yet another stellar meeting

-Writing prompt “thank you” letters that reinforce your value proposition and further distinguish you from the competition

– Negotiating a “win-win” salary package appropriate to the benefits you’ll bring the company

– Starting your new job and making history happen!

Such a simple “series of operations” to bring about a desired result. And if you’re lucky, you’ll get to choose from multiple job offers!

Of course, there’s lots of hard work involved. Lots of letters. Lots of phone calls. Often lots of rejection.

Yet the “winning” campaign secures the job. My next blog will discuss how “winners” supplement traditional tactics with branding strategies that help them “stand out from the crowd.”

 

All the best,

Stan


Your Résumé is NOT a Job Description

June 26, 2009

The most common problem with résumés is the absolute lack of accomplishments. Too often they read like Job Descriptions that merely detail all the tasks you did.

For example: “Wrote company newsletter.” “Launched new products.” “Managed department budget.” “Supervised staff.”  These well intentioned lines use the correct “action” verbs but provide no data to bolster the claim.

In today’s market, you must show how you helped your company grow revenue, control costs, improve operations, increase customer satisfaction, or reduce risk. Otherwise, you’re just another body looking for a job.

Great résumés (and cover letters) are built on accomplishments. Here’s a useful approach to help you document your accomplishments. Close the door. Spend the next 30 minutes coming up with 5-to-10 accomplishments. Each one should describe.

  • The CHALLENGE: What was the problem, need or situation (1-3 sentences)
  • The ACTION(s): How did you resolve the problem? List specific actions (1-3 sentences)
  • What OBSTACLES did you overcome? List.
  • The RESULTS: What results did you produce and what were the benefits? Please quantify. (1-3 sentences).

 Let’s take the company newsletter as an example.

  • Challenge: Employees were not aware of changes to company benefits, of new employees, or of business issues impacting the company. Morale was deteriorating.
  • Action: Proposed to senior management an online company newsletter. Provided an online sample along with an estimated time to write/produce. Suggested a survey to ask employees what they wanted/needed to know.
  • Obstacles: HR thought they already were communicating benefit changes effectively. Showed evidence to the contrary. Had to convince everyone that writing regular articles would not consume too much time.
  • Results: Created the monthly newsletter using the employee survey results along with management inputs. Initial issue resulted in congratulatory emails from more than 70% of employee base. Six-month follow-up survey showed 90% “strongly approved” of the newsletter and its contents.

 The résumé could now read:

  • Proposed, researched and implemented online company newsletter that received 90% employee approval rating in six-month follow-up survey

 I’d rather hire this person, wouldn’t you?


Really Useful Suggestions for New Job Searchers

June 4, 2009

I’m still surprised at how many job seekers still haven’t done these basics:

  1. Business card: Your self-esteem requires one; so does your networking activity. Whether you go to Kinko’s or do-it-yourself using Avery business card stock and Word templates, get some printed up. Don’t worry about a title — your name will do just fine. Include your mobile phone number and e-mail address. It’s okay to use AOL or Yahoo or Google addresses. But don’t use addresses such as hotstuff@whatever.com as it will backfire on you.
  2. Get a library card: Most have free online directories and databases that will greatly aid your job search, and some allow remote access from your home. I guarantee you’ll be surprised at how much information is available.
  3. Professionals should join LinkedIn (www.LinkedIn.com). Spend several hours filling in the basic information. That way when someone Googles your name, it’s highly likely that your LinkedIn account will be one of the first to show up.

Losing a job is a big blow. Finding another one will take hard work so get started by re-establishing your identity with a card as well as online with LinkedIn, and be amazed at how much information will be at your fingertips to help you find a new job.

Best wishes,

Stan


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