When I created the new Fearless Job Hunting books, I packed almost 100 of the best Ask The Headhunter Q&As and advice columns into The Complete Collection. Even so, lots of great Q&As didn’t make the final cut — I just had to stop somewhere. This edition of the newsletter includes one of the Q&As I wish I’d had room to include in Fearless Job Hunting. I hope you enjoy it!
In the July 9, 2013 Ask The Headhunter Newsletter, a reader asks whether employers hire 64 year olds:
Shouldn’t you be encouraging people to use headhunters like you, instead of trying to sell me on how I should do it for myself? I have no experience “selling” myself. Basically, while I’m a supreme analyst, I stink at people sales. While I’m absolutely great at crunching numbers (by the way, I loved your job board metrics discussion [CareerBuilder Is For Dopes] — very meaty and revealing), I’m not good at grabbing the people I need to meet, connecting with them, making the pitch, and closing the deal. That’s sales. I have limited experience. You are an expert.
So, why shouldn’t I utilize the best resource for the project? Why shouldn’t I utilize someone who could complete the project (finding me a job) in one tenth of the time it would take me to do the same thing?
It seems to me that using placement services is the best angle. But then again, what do I know? I’m an analyst. I like your ideas, and will give them a shot. It might take me a while to learn the techniques, but I’ll get there…
The answer is in your last statement. It takes a while to get good at this.
It’s like dating — you can try an “introduction” service, and it may be helpful, but can you do that every time you want to meet someone (whether for a job or a date)? It’s far better to invest some time and energy in learning to do it yourself.
It’s one of the skills in life that’s important to learn. Don’t worry about how long it takes. I’ve been at this for a long time and I still don’t have it down. And I was very shy to start. I was lousy at making myself walk up to someone to start a conversation.
I’m not going to offer “how-to” advice about meeting and talking to people, but here are a few of my favorite books on the subject:
Influence: The psychology of persuasion by Robert Cialdini
How to Get Your Point Across in 30 Seconds or Less by Milo Frank
Never Eat Alone by Keith Ferrazzi
I also recommend the Dale Carnegie program and Toastmasters. Both teach how to talk to people. It’s a lost art, but a key element of success. In my experience, the failure to communicate effectively is a root of personal and business failure.
As for headhunters, remember that they don’t work for you. They don’t find jobs for people. They find the right people for their corporate clients. Even “consulting companies,” which I think you’re referring to, are not the best solution. You might get lucky getting others to find work for you, but you’re better off learning how to do it yourself.
Yep, it takes time. But it can be enjoyable. And once you learn to do it, no one can take it away from you. But I disagree. It’s not sales. You can’t think of it that way, or it tastes sour. You can’t create a relationship by selling. You do it by engaging someone on a subject you have in common and that’s meaningful to you.
In other words, you make a friend, and Poof! a sale has happened. Think of it as an artifact, not a process or an objective.
There’s nothing wrong with taking a position through a consulting service, or via any channel that works for you. But you know the old saw: You can feed a person, or you can teach them how to fish. I’m glad you intend to give it a shot, so you can always feed yourself.
Thanks for your compliment about CareerBuilder Is For Dopes. I’m not an analyst or numbers guy — that stuff comes hard to me. I’m always afraid I’m missing some analytical angle and getting the conclusion wrong. If an analyst like you finds it meaty and compelling, then I guess I got the analysis right!
Hang in there. Forget about selling. Think about getting to know people. Big hint: People love it when you ask them about their work. It’s a hop and a jump to asking for insight and advice. And that’s where new friendships — and new jobs — come from.
(This is one of the Q&As that didn’t make it into the Fearless Job Hunting books You’ll find almost 100 more in-your-face ways to overcome the daunting obstacles that stop other job hunters dead in their tracks in Fearless Job Hunting: The Complete Collection.)
Do you feel awkward “selling yourself?” What do you do about it? Post your fears and comments below…