I should just say it.
Because I know you want to say the same thing. I wish we could be in the same room so I could dare you to shout it together with me:
“Job searching sucks” because it just does.
You have to picture this: I’m sitting in my hotel room (before I had my free day at Creative Density), playing HGTV in the background in order to keep from going insane. I was making choices like, groceries or phone service. I certainly was not “down on my luck.”
“Down on my luck” would have been a privilege.
It was in this entropic state I was desperately searching for work—considering every opportunity to a store sample salesperson to Starbucks barista to friendly burger-making associate at Good Times (hey, they were hiring).
It was also in this state of mental and emotional dishevelment that I discovered the strategy I’m sharing here. This same strategy allowed me to:
- Connect to people in my industry that could help me
- Secure work without the feeling I was selling myself
- Retain my dignity and self-respect as a job seeker
I’ve boiled it down to 3 equations. Let’s talk about ‘em.
From 0 to Good Job In Less Than 60 Days
LinkedIn = Da Jobs
I’ll go so far as to say that not leveraging the power of a (mostly) free tool such as LinkedIn is the equivalent to throwing your job application into a black hole, lake of fire, [feel free to insert your equivalent destructive receptacle here].
- According to a recent Jobvite survey, 93 percent of job recruiters use LinkedIn to find qualified candidates.
- LinkedIn says, they operate the “world’s largest professional network on the Internet with more than 500 million members in over 200 countries and territories.”
- Did I mention it was free to join?
Convinced? Cool, here’s the strategy, quick and dirty:
- Build contacts
- Leverage said contacts to expand network
- Find, rather, make excuses for you to talk with said expanded network
What it looks like in real-life:
The LinkedIn folks really want you to connect and make friends, so they ask you to import contacts from your email. Just do it. Even if you aren’t sure any of these people remember you or you’re pretty sure they hate your guts, just connect and see what happens.
This isn’t really about your initial contacts anyway. They’re the gateway.
Leverage said contacts to expand network:
Using LinkedIn’s search tool, search the sort of job titles that represent your colleagues or those that might hire you. For me, that was marketing managers and vice presidents of marketing.
Then on the right-hand side of the search results page, drill down your results to only include “2nd connections.” Second connections mean that you and this person share a mutual contact.
Once you find this person with whom you’d like to connect and shares a mutual contact, try to connect—just attach a note, saying something like:
“Hi Jillian! I’d just connected with [Beatrice H.] our mutual contact when I noticed your profile: you’re also a [marketer/Giants fan] in the Denver area”
Round out your message with a quick reason to get in contact and end with:
Hope to connect on LinkedIn.
I’ve used this to triple my connections on LinkedIn.
Make excuses to talk
I’ve found moving to a new place is a great excuse for reaching out to strangers. People like to lend a helping hand and inform you how they do business ‘round these parts.
Ask them if they’d like to help you get clear on things over a cup of coffee, using LinkedIn messaging.
Once they agree, you’re golden.
People and Relationships = Currency
While we’re often encouraged to obtain our jobs by applying like mad with impersonal collection systems and hope something about the way we indent our paragraphs to stick with some HR Manager long enough to impress her, thus leading her to call us ASAP, this, the traditional way, of going about things, is often a long soul-sucking slog, draining both motivation and self-esteem.
Goodwill = Goodwill
By the time I connected with the agency vice president who offered me a marketing job out the gate, I was (essentially) bribing VIPs to have coffee with me: whether it was through books or inside information on how top peers were doing things. I used it all to serve as incentive to sit down with me.
The good news: most people didn’t need all that. And now when I ask for a sit-down (Colorado is such a friendly place, so I keep up with my networking efforts), I just offer the assurance that “I hope we can help each other.”
Some people will choose to meet with you and others won’t. Just remember that whatever happens you approach this outreach with curiosity about your current situation. Learn how your market thinks, ask your coffee companion about what makes him or her excited about their work, what their biggest challenges are, and the opportunities they see opening up in your field.
Don’t walk around asking for work, rather ask what matters most to your target industry. Interestingly enough, I find I’ve gotten multiple job offers just by being generally interested in people’s life experience, stories, and insights.
Job searching sucks. But genuinely connecting with people rocks.