If my views on job hunting and hiring (and career development) seem different from most “experts” in the field, it’s mainly because I see the most fruitful ideas on these topics coming out of the netherworld. That is, from non-career-related areas. Unfortunately, the career industry spends so much time chewing and re-digesting its decades-old cud that its pipeline is clogged with crap. But, there’s guidance elsewhere, if you pay attention and look for it.
I should share more of the source material I find, so here are a couple of bits you might enjoy — and find stimulating. (Where do I find this stuff? It’s my lunch-time reading. I get more subscriptions than you’d ever want in your mailbox. Actual printed rags mean more to me than stuff published purely online. The way I see it, when a publisher spends money on paper and ink, what he publishes will be better than most of the mush we find online only. I emphasize most. There’s some great stuff online, of course…)
Fortune magazine has a cover feature this month titled Go Get the Money: How to sell in any market. (It’s in the September 29 edition, but not all the material from it that I discuss below is available online. So, buy a magazine that you can read anywhere.)
Item 1: Job hunting and hiring are 90% about selling. And 90% of sales is about your attitude and about the attitude you project to employers, job hunters, headhunters, and anyone else you brush up against in when your objective is to match a person with a company.
Anne Sweeney, Co-Chair of Disney Media Networks, talks about a quote that motivates her. “What would you attempt to do if you knew you could not fail?” Sweeney found a new attitude in that quote.
This is about making choices. Think about that quote the next time you start wasting your time sending resumes to 200 companies you picked out of the weed garden called “The Job Boards.” Choices? Those aren’t choices. Those are companies you barely know anything about (except that they posted a job opening). Stop it, Dopey. Why pursue companies you think might hire you? Close your eyes. Imagine the lush garden of companies you’d give your eye teeth to work in. Pick one, two, three, or four, and don’t worry about failing. Go after them like a mad dog, like nothing else is in your field of vision.
Item 2: Another article in this feature is worth the price of the mag by itself: How to Sell in a Lousy Economy. (What do you think you’re facing if you’re job hunting today?) Fortune profiles nine sales people. Their sales strategies are not the point. (Some of them are as old and stale as career advice.) What’s worth noting are the crude little hand-made sales tools each of these nine have fashioned. (Kudos to reporter Jia Lynn Yang for laying these out on the table.)
- How to get away with being pushy. (Warn the prospect up front about your style.)
- Send an e-mail just before going on a sales call. (I love this subtle technique of avoiding surprises in the meeting.)
- How to exploit volunteer work.
- The one thing you need to know about getting personal with a prospect. (Do not believe the nonsense about asking personal questions to get a manager to open up.)
- How to edge through a closed door. (Make a special trip.)
- How to know when to stop.
- How to use references. (Before the prospect asks for them.)
Item 3: Then there’s this precious little nugget that reveals just how little online tools are worth to pros whose job is to convince someone to pay for something they’re trying to sell. It’s a survey of how salespeople use social networking web sites. I always figured that apart from entertainment, the main utility of these sites was enjoyed by salespeople digging for contacts. But,
- Half don’t use social networking sites at all.
- Only one-fifth use them to ferret out new contacts in their client companies.
- Less than 15% use them to make connections with new prospects.
- Fewer still use the networks to track down old contacts.
- And only 6% use the social networking sites to find a new job.
If salespeople — the most goal-oriented people on the planet — barely use social networking sites to sell, what does that tell you about the utility of social networking sites?
The rest of the Fortune feature reveals in more detail how salespeople spend their time — hanging out with people they want to do business with. (You mean I have to get away from this pc and go meet people if I want to find a job? Well, no, only your competition needs to do that.)
There’s good advice to be gleaned about job hunting, hiring, and goosing your career, but not where you expect. You’ll find it in the netherworld of business — so go take a look.
Where do you find the most useful tips about job hunting and hiring?