Wednesday, July 15
I am working with a top ranking career military officer, who during his time in the Reserves also developed a stellar career as a senior-level executive in industry. Recently, after concluding his reactivation in the Military, he had the daunting task of re-entering the job market; and as well all know, during the worst economy in a lifetime. After some time searching on his own he was able to sum-up his frustration for me: “This is the first time in my life I am doing something and have no idea how I doing.” This, coming from an Officer at one of the highest official levels in the Military. Now he didn’t say, “what I’m doing” he said “how”! Does anybody tell YOU how you are doing in YOUR job search?
I am going to share with you what may be the single-most important letter in a job search, one that will address our challenge of not knowing how I’m doing. I call this letter Response to a Rejection, sometimes referred to as Thanks for the Rejection.
(This is an actual letter that was in fact used just today. Of course certain information has been omitted)
June 15, 2009
Dear Mr. Willard:
I understand the rationale behind your letter of June 14, 2009 in which you said that there are currently no openings at [COMPANY] for an experienced sales manager. Undoubtedly, you receive multiple unsolicited resumes, and I thank you for taking the time from a busy schedule to respond to my inquiry.
It is this type of consideration that reaffirms my belief that [COMPANY]is a well-managed company. As a result, I would like to ask your advice because I believe that you have a great deal of information and expertise from which I can benefit.
More specifically, I would appreciate 20 minutes of your time not to discuss current job openings, but to discuss what you look for in outstanding sales managers, what your opinion is of the long term growth in the [BUSINESS/INDUSTRY/FIELD], and any advice you would have for a sales manager with a keen interest in the same. Your expertise and experience in directing [COMPANY] make your opinion invaluable.
I will call early next week to see if we can arrange a mutually convenient time to get together.
Certainly there are more rejections than offers in a job search; and most people send a cordial letter … thank you for your time and interest and if something opens up, please let me know. “Thank you” is good; “thank you” and feedback is better. The more you are rejected, the more opportunity for feedback; and the more feedback you have the more improvements you make – continuous process improvement. Soon you will no longer say I have no idea how I’m doing. In fact, you may be thinking to yourself (thank you, thank you, thank you for that rejection! I’ll be so much smarter the next time).
In his book, How to Master the Art of Selling, Sales Guru Tom Hopkins wrote, I never see failure as failure but an opportunity to practice my techniques and perfect my performance. I say … Gotta love that rejection!
Thursday, July 9
What a great question! Securing a new job is akin to a successful product launch. All the time spent running a well-organized marketing campaign and now the product is in the market … You have landed your new job!
As in the product launch, you would want to continually work on product positioning and posturing for its on-going success, right? Likewise you want to do so for your success.
How you begin has everything to do with how (and where) you end up. How do you insure you will get off on the right foot? Here are some ideas to consider:
1. Get to know the company and key players. Producing long-term results is more important than an immediate impact. Depending on the company and the reason for your hire you will have a settling-in period anywhere from 30-90 days. Use that time for wisely.
2. Remember names and try to use them from time to time - always with a smile. Sounds trite, I know, but how many times were you introduced to others and immediately forgot names. Look them straight in the eye and ask “I’m sorry, could you tell me your name again? and then practice using once or twice a week –it’s flattering too.
3. Do not over-do conversation. Your weekend, evening, lunch, family visit... was always “Very good” quickly followed by “and how was yours?” People ask, but are not necessarily interested in more than that. If they get more than that before they really know you they will steer away the next time.
4. Observe how the company gets things done: The company’s management style, your boss’ management style; leadership; company culture… Become a student of your managers and their leaders. I once read, “the best classroom is at the feet of an elder", so ... The bell has rung; take a seat and pay attention.
5. Be a class act. Don’t get drawn into the chitter-chatter of gossipers. Smile, project a positive attitude, nod in agreement if you must, but do not gossip. If you do people will not put their trust in you. Practice being a good listening and consider everything you hear as if it were most private, even if it plainly is gossip. Bite your tongue and you will not go wrong.
6. Gain the confidence of others. Give credit to others up and down the line. Be humble when credit is given to you and say only “thank you”. For the first few weeks defer to others for advice; defer to your boss’ lead. After you have gained the confidence of your boss and that of others, maybe 30-60 days, you can start making recommendations.
7. Keep your boss informed. This too is part of gaining his or her confidence. It is important also make a point of asking a couple of questions from time to time. Be careful nonetheless not to phrase your questions in a manner that sounds like you are (prematurely) criticizing people or procedure.
8. Show your boss you are serious. State your intentions within the boundaries of the job as it is currently described (save “posturing” for after the first 90 days): On day-one, arrange a series of short meetings to ensure that you are both on the same page, that your actions support both your objectives and his or hers.
9. Start planning for your "Review" on Day-one. Do not wait until after your “settling in” period. If a review has not already been scheduled , when you are arranging your series of short meetings (#8) also schedule your review for after the first 90 days; but begin planning for it from Day-one: Keep a diary of what you see and what it is you feel can be improved, changed, accomplished, etc... and NEVER share this with co-workers.
10. Keep your resume updated. Also starting with Day-one, be mindful of any and all your accomplishments, even the most subtle: Situations you were in; opportunities you saw; actions you took; and results ... SOAR! Plus, in doing so, you will be preparing for your first Review, as you should, just like an interview. You will be forearmed with the information you will need to take an active part in the Review process and outcome, and since most employers take a passive approach to Reviews, this will be most appreciated.
Hope this helps!
Friday, July 3
Sorry for my time away. Between my father-in-law's 100th birthday party and him seeing his great grandson, and namesake, from 2000 miles away for the first time, emotions ran high and I've been distracted from the "day-to-day". A distraction I hope you can all experience!
I recently answered a question from someone looking to leave software and IT and move into Human Resources. He wanted to know if a PGMP would be helpful in re-careering. What follows was my (long-winded) answer.
Think about this: You go and get more education and additional credentials and you still will likely be in line with 100's if not 1000's of potential job candidates, many of which also have similar education and experience but may too have the direct-related transferable experience that you are lacking – all of you in line for the same jobs. If one person has just one more direct-related transferable experience than you, they are hence ahead of you in line. PLUS... since only ONE person can get the job, what is the likelihood of that being you in such a case? Sounds awful, huh. Hopeless, right? Well it isn't; NOT AT ALL! I should say here that I am a BIG BELIEVER in education, new learning and continuous self-improvement, but (it) may not be what helps you to stand out in today's job market. I'll explain.
We are not living in average times and companies today therefore are not looking for average people, nor are companies just filling slots these days; you know, the "round-peg, round-hole lateral-move game"? No ... Instead they are looking for STANDOUTS; and those few candidates who DO “standout” are more likely to be invited into an opportunity than those who blend in. So, your question should be, Do I need a PGMP to be a "standout" in this job market? Short answer: Not necessarily. Can it help at all? Sure. Nonetheless, I would put my efforts towards intentional (directed) networking to find a potential opportunity BEFORE the crowd, get in, and sell my unique set of skills and talent, my “branding”, before I would get another credential. Make sense?
In some industries, you cannot get around the credentialing, but depending on the role you may be seeking in HR, you probably can. But not if you get caught up in lines. Get ahead of the job-hiring curve. That alone makes you a "standout" doesn't it? ... You show up as the hiring pattern is only starting to unfold, BEFORE any announcements or postings, make the case that you represent a solution to a challenge, whatever that may be, and that in and of itself (you being there in the first place) would make you standout among your potential competition, wouldn't you think? By the way, that "Challenge"? ... That challenge was your CLUE that led you to the particular target company in the first place; and it was the research and subsequent action you took with the “clue” that got you there ahead of the crowd. Hey, wouldn't the recognition alone that you receive for being ahead of the crowd and the hiring curve help you standout? Then you are in a position to sell your "Branding" - your value-proposition.
Although hiring decision-makers may be interested in where you have been and what you have done and learned (your past), including education, how that will translate (your future together) into you being a personal solution to the challenge(s) they face (problem, need, threat, opportunity..) is more than likely what will clinch it for you. Oh, then you can go for the PGMP and have them pay for it.
Hpe this helps!
“Sorry for such a long answer; I didn’t have time to write a short one” --anonymous