2010-05-11

You're a loser. Get a job! (Part 2 of 3)


Finding a job is your job
In part one of this three part series, we explored that you need to be prepared.  Part two is about the fact that finding a job is your job.  Don't act like you don't have a job, because you do.  You don't get a paycheck for it at the end of the month, but it is your full-time job.  

Know yourself
An important part of finding your next job is to know yourself.  Who are you?  What do you love to do?  Given your passions, what would be the perfect job?  Spend a few days introspecting.  Think deeply about who you are and what you want before you start looking, and then focus your search on the kinds of roles you want.  For myself, I think of things like, "I want to be awesome and help other people be awesome," and, "I love to lead tech teams, do tech work, and mentor, coach, and train people."  

Next, concisely describe yourself.  If you had only 30 seconds to introduce yourself, what would you say?  Make it clear and powerful.  Imagine walking into a store, asking what they sell, and hearing, "Um, I'm not sure, we kind of do X, but we also do Y ..."  My concise introduction goes like this:
I am a tech leader.  Most recently I was director of engineering at a company building mobile phone apps.  I was in charge of the dev team building the apps, and I was in charge of the production op's team that hosted the server side of the apps.  I am looking for my next job, project, or consulting gig, either leading tech teams or helping transform a team by showing them how to do Agile really well.  Do you know anyone looking for this kind of help?"
Exercise: Write down three things you are passionate about.  What are the best jobs for your passions?  Now write your concise introduction.  Practice your introduction, first by yourself, and then with everyone you meet.

Sell yourself
Now that you know yourself, learn how to sell yourself.  You are offering your services to potential buyers.  You need to market yourself just like any other product or service.  You are the salesman and you are the product.  Sell yourself!  

Start by finding your market.  Don't waste your time browsing jobs web sites like Monster or those of large companies, and don't submit your resume through a jobs web site.  Instead, identify your professional network and your prospects.  Make a list of everyone who might be able to help, including all your former coworkers, the people in your social networks, your phone and email contacts, contacts from previous job searches, neighbors, family, and friends.  

Think of your network as a sales funnel, starting with everyone you know, and eventually leading to job offers and your new job.  Organize your contacts into a backlog, prioritized by how likely each person is to lead to your new job.  Use your network, asking people for leads, and offering to help them with whatever they need--your job search is not a one way street.  

Be persistent, contacting and recontacting people by email, phone, and other media, but don't be a pest.  As you talk with people, listen well.  Read How to Win Friends and Influence People; the prose is dated and corny, but it is an amazing guide to building and using your network.  

Expand your network.  Before you attend an industry event, make a list of the people you want to meet.  At the event, introduce yourself with your concise introduction, ask for a business card, and offer yours.  Always sit next to people you don't know yet, and introduce yourself to them.  Be friendly, smile, and say something nice to old friends and new acquaintances.  Make sure your business card reinforces your image--you are the real deal; don’t hand out cheap looking, self-printed cards.  

Have a great looking resume, and publish it conspicuously on your blog.  Recall from Part 1 that publishing a blog is a great way to build your reputation.  Having found your blog, make it easy for them to learn more about you.

Is your sales pitch ready?  Your spiel starts with your concise introduction.  As the conversation progresses, have some good open ended questions ready: What are your biggest problems?  How can I help you solve them?  What can I do to help you succeed?  What do you like least/most about your company?  

Know your target salary, but don't share your price until the right moment.  When an interviewer asks what your most recently salary was, don’t answer; instead, ask what you would be worth to the prospective company.  Prepare for sales objections, such as, "We are a big company, but you've never worked for a big company."  Close the deal!

Exercise: Write down the questions you would ask at a job interview.  Establish your target salary.  Predict and write down the hiring manager’s objections, and write down your responses to the objections.

Do your job
Finding a job is your job, so do your job!  Get off your ass and do it full-time, at least 40 hours a week.  if you didn't contact at least 20 people today, then you didn't do your job.  

Do your homework before every phone call and face to face interview.  If your are interviewing for a job called Product Manager, you better damn well know what a Product Manager does.  Part of my spiel is, "a great tech leader does three things ..."  My spiel is honest--I know myself--and I rehearse it just enough that I sound confident but not fake.

Exercise: You better be prepared for this interview question: "It's your first day at BizCo and you are a JobTitle for Product X; what do you do?"  Write down your answer.

This series
Reread part one, and stay tuned for part two of this three part series:
Part 2: Finding a job is your job
Part 3: Don’t change

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