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How to Say It: Pest, or manager’s dream?

In the September 8, 2009 Ask The Headhunter Newsletter we’re discussing follow-up phone calls to managers. You know — that call you’re supposed to make after you submit a resume and application form.

In the newsletter, a reader worries that such calls can turn the job hunter into a pest. What manager wants to be bothered with that?

I explain that you should make the call, but make it without sending a resume and without filling out any applications. Make the call first. Then I challenge you to figure out what you’re going to say on that call. (Want to know more? You would, if you subscribed to the newsletter. Sign up now (it’s free), and you’ll be ahead of the game next week.)

To plan what you should say to a manager, put yourself in the manager’s shoes. If you were a manager, what would you want to hear from a caller who wants to work for you? As the job hunter, What does it mean to talk shop to that manager? Think. Are you gonna be a pest, or the manager’s dream?

Upon introducing yourself (on the phone) to a manager who knows nothing about you and who has never seen your resume, what could you say to make the manager want to hire you?

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11 Comments
  1. Hi Nick – I agree wholeheartedly with your approach and recommendations. I believe that the interview is where you must demonstrate that you have done your homework and the interview session allows you to maximize strengths in making the delivery comfortably.

    Here is where the premise of networking and getting properly prepared are all so critical in today’s market.

    Geoff

  2. Greetings Nick,
    I think my questions would come from research I have done about the company. The direction they are going in, and and the market challenges they face in proportion to my ability to help them. Also, possibly getting to know some of the people that work there. This of course would come only after I have Identified exactly which company I wish to work for.

  3. Hi Nick

    I have been reading your column for a while now and you always manage to hit the nail on the head. Love your writings.

    About a month ago I started attending a weekly networking group in my area as part of my job search and this group is great. The main trust of the group is developing your brand and a statement about that brand (you) and standing out from amongst the sea of applicants out there. It seems like ones branding statement has many uses and I think it would play well here, right? If our message is succinct enough, we should be able to answer the challenges facing any hiring manager we are looking to work for.

    I just wanted to get your feedback on how you feel about branding statements. In this economy we all need to know how to sell of course and at the same time not sound like a pest as the original poster put it.

    Charlie

  4. Love your newsletter, Nick.

    I want to agree with everything you say. Love people who think outside the box. Problem? Whose going to train the managers?

    My experience tells me that offices are filled with mediocre managers who aren’t the least bit interested in hearing cold what you are going to do to improve their bottom line.

    That takes the most important aspect of job hunting back to networking. Network, network, network, so that you never have to find yourself in a job interview. Always remember that eighty percent of jobs are never advertised.

    Your advice also does not take into consideration the huge job market for support staff.

    In that pink ghetto, into which I recently ventured for part-time work, believe it or not, interviewers are still interested in testing a candidate’s typing speed and grammar skills (despite a résumé’s clearly indicating the candidate has been typing for years and that once hired, micromanagement will block the use of any grammar skills). Would anyone dare to test lawyers’ typing skills — after all that’s what they do all day long?

    An experience: I was once interviewed by seven people for a part-time job in a firm library. Each interview included the usual bullshit: give us your weaknesses on a platter; dealing with difficult people in the last job, etc. After all that, no note or phone call to let me know that I had not been chosen.

    I believe the job-hunting process has gone mad; that it has to be turned on its heals. A huge paradigm shift: headhunters and agencies that are paid by both candidates and companies. They would not be in business were it not for the candidates. It is long past due for candidates to be treated as clients.

    Your advice is great, but as more and more people take it, its effect will be greatly diluted. No manager is going to book hundreds of appointments to hear how hundreds of applicants are going to improve the bottom line.

  5. @Charles Bosse: I think branding statements are a useful exercise. But I think it’s putting the cart before the horse. And the more I think about it, my response is long… look for a new post on this in the next coupla days. You got me thinking and I want to talk about this separately so we can start a new thread…

  6. @Neva: I can feel your frustration. Most managers suck at figuring out what to do with a good job candidate. The best candidates fluster most managers (but not the best managers). And that tells us something: Most managers aren’t worth working for. If they don’t “get” a good candidate who can walk in and do what you’re talking about, it’s good to see that — move on, leave them alone. 80% of jobs aren’t advertised, and 80% of people are cows ;-) http://www.asktheheadhunter.com/crocs19cows.htm

    **Your advice is great, but as more and more people take it, its effect will be greatly diluted.**

    I have great faith in the inability of the biz world and the media to recognize a good idea. I think you have nothing to worry about. If you hear me say I have just gotten rich off Ask The Headhunter, then you should worry. Meantime, go your way and let the competition hang out in the mire. ;-)

  7. Thanks for your response and cow link, Nick. A laugh for my day, hopefully apart from the cows!

    Charlie and Nick, I would like to say a couple of things about personal branding. I just happen to be working on a branding seminar.

    I believe it is essential to create Brand You to differentiate yourself from the herd – Nick’s cows. It is the only way to take control of your life in the realties of today’s here-today, gone-tomorrow business world and today’s job markets crowded by more and more people with equal talents, degrees and cookie-cutter résumés.

    Brand You is not so much about creating a brand statement; it is more about creating a brand core: becoming CEO of you and doing everything (courses, networking, speaking, writing, behaviour, etc.) to promote and improve your brand; not the brand of the organization for which you work. It indirectly reaps the rewards of your brand, but your loyalty is to you; not the organization.

    Brand You is your core: who you are, your expertise, your activities, your credentials, the value you deliver, your reputation, how others perceive you, how well you are known.

    It means finding your passion and following it. It means being your own CEO over and above your job. It means proactively improving yourself without waiting for opportunities at work. It means keeping up with the latest technology and trends. It means being the best you can in your field. It means knowing those at the top of your field, and those at the top of your field knowing you.

    It results in your being able to pick up the phone for another job, if necessary. It means creating an environment in which others bang on your door to hire you, rather than the other way around. It means forever avoiding the open job market and conventional job interviews. It means people open your e-mails. It means people seek you out. It means creating security and well being, because you are in charge. It means financial stability, no matter what happens where you work.

    Now I must get on and create my brand.

    Look forward to your piece on branding, Nick.

  8. I think if Nick’s advice becomes commonplace, there will be other problems that will emerge as we humans seem to excel at finding ways to make simple things complicated with great ease. It would be nice to have a world where I could just go up to a company and say, “Hey, would you like a web developer/problem solver to join your ranks?” and have that lead into an interview within minutes. Ah, that’d be nice but isn’t likely to happen.

    It’d also be nice if education could get better in touch with HR trends so that we aren’t having to play a dumb chicken ‘n’ egg game with people new to a field where employers all want 2 years experience but the students have none though they want to learn, but that can lead to more of a rant than anything else.

  9. @JB King

    ** “Hey, would you like a web developer/problem solver to join your ranks?” **

    Uh, why would I add to my payroll?

    How about: “Hey, I think if your web site could do X, your revenues would go up 15%. I know how to do that and I’d be glad to show you how…”

    Now you’re talkin’.

  10. One of the things I tell my readers over and over is to do whatever it takes to get in front of a hiring manager and, at all costs, avoid HR until you’re ready to be onboarded. For this to work, perfecting an elevator pitch is essential. And if you are viewed as a pest, t least you know you gave it your best shot. It’s much better than bllindly submitting a resume — at least you have a fighting chance.

    @Neva: “no note or phone call to let me know that I had not been chosen.”

    You’re so right. I suggest people start posting messages on Twitter about companies and managers who blow off candidates after an interview. As companies do look for messages about themselves, it will eventually be noticed and, hopefully, acted upon.

  11. I rather not do a follow up, I agree that it’s better to nail your interview, could you just imagine if all applicants would do follow up to the hiring managers. I am the hiring manager I would get annoyed.

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