I think this is lucky because: (1) it’s an honor to help others, (2) nothing makes me happier than seeing someone gainfully employed after we’ve spoken about their career gap, and (3) I’m just glad I’m not the one looking for the job today. (Then, again, self-employed since 1990, I’m always looking for work.)
To be sure, when I’m helping others, I’m no miracle worker: sometimes I can help and sometimes I can’t. But it’s always rewarding to see the person land a great job.
Here are five ways I address the question, “Can you help me find a job?”
Answer #1: LinkedIn
I ask: “Have you looked at my network of contacts on LinkedIn?” If you use LinkedIn, you can see my entire network, and their networks, and their networks….some three million people in all.
Even if you aren’t job hunting , here’s a fuller description and an invitation to use LinkedIn today.
Answer #2: The Numbers Game
Though you might not be fond of networking — most of us dread it — it’s a numbers game. If you see enough people, you will make your own luck.
My wife and teacher, Alisa, sought employment when we came to Columbus. She plunged in with the following rules. Each and every day:
- Call six people I don’t know every day.
- Follow up with five people every day.
- Meet one person I don’t know, in person, every day. Informational interviews count.
It’s a grueling pace. Especially when it can take nine months or more. For encouragement, read Never Eat Alone.
David Trautman of Park National Bank told me that he wants to meet 50 people , in person, each week. “Fifty people!” I said. “Have you ever done it?”
“No, my record is 38,” he said. “That was a great week.” (He was only counting in-person meetings.)
They key is an ever-expanding list of folks to meet. How do you keep adding to the list? Mallory Factor, my first boss, had a great way of moving through a network. At the end of any conversation with someone he thought was smart, he would make this request:
“I think you are smart. I need to know more smart people like you. Would you please give me the name of one smart person, and his or her phone number?”
Most people reply: “Sure. Let me give that some thought. I’ll send you a few names.”
Mallory would say (and this is the truly effective part): “No, but thanks. I don’t want you to have to work on this later. When you hang up the phone, you need to go right back to your work. I want just one name right now.”
Many would laugh at this, because it is so demanding. Some would ask about the urgency. Some would ask why he wanted “just one name.” Mallory would explain, “If you go away and think about it, it’s very possible you won’t get back to me. You’re busy. I respect that. So I’d rather have one name, hastily considered, right now, than three names never.”
He would always get a name. Right then.
Of course, you can do this on LinkedIn. None of these methods are mutually exclusive.
Answer #3: Know Thyself
The job search is thought of mainly as a search for gainful employment. And, since most of us (and all our kids) are addicted to food, finding a job is critically important and often urgent.
But many people who visit me are wondering who they themselves are. They have difficulty answering life’s most basic yet most difficult questions:
What do you really like doing? I mean really? What puts you into Flow?
What are your non-negotiables?
If you had no fear, what would you do?
What are your strengths? Here are your strengths.
A job is more than a way to pay for food and shelter. It’s your life. It’s critically important that each of us take a self-interest in who we are, so that we employ ourselves in the work that we find meaningful and satisfying beyond the paycheck.
No one else — not your mother, not your spouse and certainly not your prospective employer — will be as interested as you are in answering the above questions for you. “Who am I?” is a question that we must ask of ourselves. Here’s how.
Answer #4: Professional Help
I encourage any job hunter to contact the job counseling specialists at Jewish Family Services.
Several years ago, when I was considering my next steps, I called on Jewish Family Services. They have a dynamic group of career counselors and job hunting advocates who offer group and individual programs to match folks with opportunities. I’ve met many JFS clients who swear by the results — and I can personally attest to their effectiveness and kindness.
Here’s where to look. The cost is very modest. From my personal experience, the value can be enormous.
Another idea is to contact a professional recruiter. I like Brooks Young, the “Young” of “Young Isaac.” He says you can go ahead and send him your resume at [email protected].
Answer #5: Be Ready For The Interview
Here are some notes on how I interview.
Answer #6: The Hecker Method
This is a brilliant method for communicating with others during the search. When my friend and teacher, Gordon Hecker, who was in a job search several years ago described his process, I immediately asked, “May I tell others how you are doing this? May I call this The Hecker Method?” He laughed and said, “Yes.”
There are two parts:
Part One: The two-column list.
Gordon shows you a piece of paper with two columns on it. In the left column is a list of names of people. Your name is in that list. Gordon says, “Here are a list of names of people who I am meeting. They are smart people, well connected. Here’s your name.”
Then he points to the right column, a list of company names. “This is a list of the places where I can work. They have the level of job that I need to find. [For Gordon, because he is a very senior marketing person, the list is limited in our fair city.] So, I’m confident that these people on the left can connect me to the right people at these companies on the right. I just don’t know who will connect me to which. How can you help?”
His question sparks a competitive spirit. After all, there’s your name. The other people on the list are all smart and well connected. Some you recognize. So, by golly, if you see your name on that list, you’d just as rather be the person who helps connect Gordon meet the companies on the right. So you get right to work.
That drives the conversation during the meeting.
This just in
Gordon Hecker read this post and corrects me on this first part. He writes, “When I showed people the list, I showed the name of the company I wanted to get introduced to, the specific person at the company I wanted to meet and, the name of the person who made or was committed to make that specific introduction.”
Perhaps my re-telling above is The Modified Hecker Method. Use whatever version works for you.
Part Two: The two follow-up email messages.
At the end of the meeting, Gordon says, “Thank you very much. Here’s what I will do next. I’m going to send you two emails. The first one is a casual one that thanks me for your time. I am really grateful. I will thank you in the first note. The second note, which I will send at the same time, is a little more formal. It has my resume attached. It’s written for you to forward it. I’d like you to send it to anyone you know who might be able to help connect me to any of these companies.”
Sure enough, within an hour, two emails arrived. They both started, “Dear Artie…” The first one was more casual — and it reminded me of the specific people I said I would contact on his behalf. That way, Gordon jogged my memory two minutes before I began writing cover notes and forwarding the second email. The second one was more formal — and I went right to work sending it.
While you are at all this, keep your mind active. Polish your interviewing skills. Here’s a list of questions they ask at Microsoft during interviews.
LinkedIn, The Numbers Game, Know Thyself, Professional Help, and The Hecker Method. They all work. And they work for more than finding a job. They work for new business development and practice development. They work for building an audience or a congregation.
They work for building a life.
[For recent college graduates, here’s more.]
I dedicate this post to Cee Scott Brown, who (in 1982) was the first person to offer me an informational interview. He was, at the time, the director of the Holly Solomon Gallery in Soho, New York. Fresh out of college, I thought at the time that I wanted to work in art marketing. His kindness is a gift I repay to others.