Finding your perfect job is not easy—even in the best of times.
When there is a downturn like the one we’re going through right now, it’s even tougher. But it’s not impossible. It’s easy to get caught up in the gloom and doom—and to get discouraged.
My advice is “Keep it upbeat.”
There are jobs out there. The average amount of time for the job search has increased slightly. But the candidates we coach are landing the positions they are seeking. Now—more than ever—it’s crucial to keep a positive outlook and maintain an upbeat attitude, and to keep your eye on the prize.
Fully 80% of jobs are captured through conversations and through networking.
So every day, you should be on the phone or attending events where you get to meet new people, rekindle old acquaintances, and remind the people you know that you’re looking for a position.
Remember, people are naturally willing to help. But they can’t help you unless you help them help you. If the old Woody Allen adage holds true that 80% of success is showing up. The other 20% is being prepared. And if you can’t answer the question: “What do you do?” or “What kind of job are you looking for?” in 30 seconds or less, or you are stumbling over your words, then you are not prepared.
If you’re not prepared you’re not making it easy for other people to help you. This puts too much pressure on them, and makes your request for assistance more of a chore than a favor.
And that will lead you nowhere.
When you’re prepared, you make it easy for others, and it’s a simple matter of doing you a favor.
Make your benefit understandable
What are the benefits everyone understands? Saving money. Making money. Saving time. Making someone’s life easier.
When you’re crafting or revising your elevator speech, do not forget to tell the person that you’re speaking with how you can benefit an employer. Make it understandable. It’s what is going to make people remember you. And it’s what will get others to refer you to prospective employers, and possibly your next employer to you.
When you’re talking to people on the phone and daisy-chaining your way to the person who will eventually help you find your job, practice your big benefit.
Paint a picture. Illustrate how you can do good for them. Help them envision how your presence could be a service to them. That makes it easy to then explain it to others.
The person you’re speaking to has to make that mental connection. They have to see how you will benefit them or one of their associates, or else they’ll simply tell you “I’m sorry no-one really comes to mind right now. If I can think of anyone who can help, I’ll let you know”.
And that’s not going to help you get where you need to go.
If you’re going to make real progress in your job search, when you introduce yourself, present the benefit. When you’re telling a story about one of your accomplishment, present the benefit. When you ask for a referral, frame the request as a benefit.
Finally, don’t fall prey to the old fear that you don’t want to call someone because you’re afraid to bother him or her. People are naturally willing to help. And there’s no reason to be embarrassed about being in between positions. Everyone knows someone who has been affected by this downturn.
One thing is for sure. If you don’t make the calls, and if you don’t network, you will never know.