This concludes the list of job hunting best practices as discussed by a cross-functional networking group that met at Colonial JobSeekers, Cary, NC on Monday, October 18, 2010.
Personal/Handwritten Communication—Corresponding on nice stationary in ink is mostly a lost art today. Yet, nothing says I care more than sending someone a handwritten thank you note. If a recruiter invites you to apply for a position, send them a note. If you have a telephone interview, send a note. If the source of the phone interview is local, drive over to the company and leave a note. If you have a face-to-face interview, leave a note at the reception desk for the interviewer on your way out the door.
Positive Perspective—No matter what, do your best to keep a positive attitude. Did you know, when you smile when you speak to someone on the telephone, the other person can actually sense it? A positive attitude communicates confidence.
Reconnect with Past Relationships—If you are like me, you probably have a drawer full of business cards you’ve collected from people over the years. When was the last time you touched base with any of them? For that matter, when was the last time you touched base with any of your friends. I recently reconnected with my best friend from high school on LinkedIn and a friend on facebook I used to play with in the park when I was five. Keep in touch with your past. You’ll never know who may be able to open the right door for you.
Remain Hopeful—This goes hand in hand with a positive attitude. British clergyman Charles Kingsley said, “The men whom I have seen succeed best in life always have been cheerful and hopeful men; who went about their business with a smile on their faces; and took the changes and chances of this mortal life like men; facing rough and smooth alike as it came.” All of us who are unemployed are facing rough times; and sometimes, very long rough times. But the as the sunrises each day, there is hope on the horizon within our grasp. As do the United States Marine, we need to adapt, improvise and overcome obstacles as we accomplish our missions and win our battles. And we need to do it cheerfully
Small Business Groups—Get out and meet with small business groups. In the Raleigh area there is a group called TAFU which means To Avoid Future Unemployment. This networking group is a blend of both the employed and unemployed. Each person stands and gives their 45-second elevator speech. People throughout the room take notes and if anyone can help, they’ll meet offline to discuss possibilities. There is also a Raleigh Christian Business Man’s group called the His Biz Network. When I attended that one, I received several leads to conduct Lead Like Jesus servant leader encounter workshops. Don’t spend all your time online. Search your area for small business groups and get out and meet people.
Social Networking—A lot of doors have opened for me through social networking. I’ve received invitations for public speaking, opportunities to connect with new people and have become a member of the NC Executive Roundtable which meets weekly. As of the time of this writing, I have over 5,100 direct connections on LinkedIn, over 800 friends on facebook and 242 followers on Twitter. Through networking, I have been able to help others find jobs. Networking, whether the online social kind or face to face is about helping others. The more people you help, the greater the rewards.
Teach Webinars—Do you consider yourself an expert in your field? Do others? Do others come to you for advice? If this sounds like you, then teach webinars. If you’re on a shoestring budget, sign up for services such as Freebinar and conduct free webinars for up to 150 people. Marketing yourself as an expert in your field can gain you valuable contacts and open many doors of opportunity for you. With so many contacts on LinkedIn, I’ll be doing this myself in the near future.
Temp Jobs—Don’t turn down temp jobs if they come your way. One gentleman in the discussion group dressed as the Statue of Liberty to advertise Liberty Tax Preparation Service in Raleigh. He stood on the street corner waving to passers-by. He made more contacts while performing this temp job than he could ever imagine. Don’t be afraid to humble yourself for a temp job. With the holiday season fast approaching, there will be Christmas tree marketers looking for seasonal temp workers all over the country. Take one of these jobs if you can. The first person you sell a holiday item to or help them carry it to their car, could be the CEO of the company you’ve been targeting.
Trust God—For many, this is the toughest one of all because God asks us to accept His will by faith. Hebrews 11:1 says “Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen.” We can’t see or touch God and He doesn’t speak audibly to us. He speaks to us through His Word and the impressions of His Holy Spirit. Missionary Kyle Sutton in Australia says, “The greater the thing God wants to say to the believer, the quieter He says it.” Proverbs 3:5–6 says, “Trust in the Lord with all thine heart; And lean not unto thine own understanding. In all thy ways acknowledge him, And he shall direct thy paths.” God never does anything that isn’t for our benefit. Learn to listen for His still small voice and trust Him with all your heart that whatever it is you are going through right now will work out for the best. “And we know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to his purpose. ”—Romans 8:28, (KJV)
Volunteerism—There are many ways to volunteer your time to stay connected with people and possibly land the job of your dreams. You’ll need to search out the opportunities in your own geographic location, but the following suggestions have worked for people in the Raleigh area. If you are in IT, volunteer for organizations that accept donations of old computers. In Raleigh, we have an organization called the The Purple Elephant. Information Technology resources that have volunteered for that organization have landed positions because part of the job is to call IT leaders in various companies to solicit donations. As the conversations progress and relationships are built, current job openings are discussed and the volunteers are invited to apply! Another great place to volunteer is Habitat for Humanity. Many corporations plan outdoor “give-back” days with Habitat. Volunteering for Habitat gives you access to the where and when resources from a target company may be building a new home. The day they are there, you go work as well. This allows you to work side-by-side with the company you are targeting to learn as much as you can about their culture and hidden job opportunities. It also gives them an opportunity to see what you are made of. The last volunteer suggestion for this post is to volunteer at your local convention center if there’s one near you. Convention centers are always looking for volunteers to work registration tables for different corporate events. Working a registration table gives you access to virtually everyone attending. This is networking to the max. Strike up conversations, give your 30-second elevator speech and you’ll never know where it can lead.
Wrong Hits? Check Out Company Anyway—In spite of all the best practices we’ve discussed, there will be times when a completely unsuitable job description hits your inbox. Check out the company anyway. Receiving information about job postings means the company is hiring. Check out their website. Even though the posting you received is unsuitable, there may be a very well suited job for you on their website.