Monday, October 26

It Pays To Groom Your References

Grooming your references is essential; knowing exactly where you stand and avoiding surprises can be the make-it or break-it in a search. A little time with a reference can result in great returns.

10 Steps (yes, another “10-Stepper”) for preparing your references to work for you:

1. First phone or visit your references. Demonstrate the importance of your request my investing your time.

2. Ask for their permission even if you feel it goes without saying that they will help. Get a commitment for an enthusiastic endorsement; but make sure they understand that it is okay to decline and it can still be business as usual (perhaps another time).

3. Compliment your reference. Communicate a sincere recognition of there accomplishments or their importance…that you think a lot of their success. You could say something like “I’ve always admired your professionalism in business and hold the highest regard for your contributions to the industry”.

4. Remember, most people know only a part of your background so consider different references to speak to different areas of your background, experience, skill sets and accomplishments. Be sure you know who’s who and what before you meet so you can be sure to give each the appropriate overview.

5. Provide a copy of your resume and go over the area of experience that you feel they could endorse most enthusiastically. Prepare ahead to talk to them about the specific area and ask for their suggestions and advice. It’s flattering, elevating, to be asked for advice.

6. Share and together shape the key selling points you want your reference to discuss. This will increase their retention and combine nicely with your resume. It’s also helpful to discuss types of roles and companies that are of interest to you and show them how your resume can be a script when they “perform”.

7. It will be helpful to develop a list of likely questions potential employers may ask. One (scary) question could be “Can you explain to me the circumstances around h/her leaving your company?” … You better be in sync! Another question may be “Can you give me a general idea of the direction you see h/her career heading?” or “Would you rehire h/her? Prepare careful answers and discuss them. After all, this will make helping you a lot easier for them.

8. Your references are likely to be busy people. Assure them that you will respect their time and might only use them a few times, now and then … and mean it! They will not be very enthusiastic on the tenth call.

9. Avoid giving references to employment/personnel agencies. Personnel people may see them as potential targets for their own business and you could find yourself with “burned bridges”. Remember, you need to protect your references. At the Executive level it is different and you should expect to provide references to Executive Search companies; but then, only if mutual interest has been established.

10. Finally, after you call or visit, send a follow-up letter expressing your appreciation and highlighting a few of the key (positive) points that can be said about you. After that, remember to keep your references updated during the interview process with a call or visit if and when you submit their name so they aren’t taken by surprise. You may even suggest they keep your resume by their phones to make it easier for them to respond quickly and too, save time. They will appreciate that.

The easier you make this for your references the happier they will be. Everyone likes to help others, they just don’t always know how. Although they will do their best, it isn’t always best for you. The 10 points herein will help them help you and create good chemistry along the way. When the chemistry is good between you and your references odds are that they will be much better references. Again, grooming your references is essential. You must know exactly where you stand and they should too, so that surprises are avoided.

Hopes this helps!

Rob Taub

Tuesday, October 6

10 Tips to Overcome Fear of Cold Calling

Job search phone phobia is very common. Here are some ideas that could turn your phone into the feather-light tool it should be and not a 500 lb weight.

There are many types of phone calls. The calls that give people the most trouble are the "Introductory Calls”. The purpose of the call is to make you known. The goal is to get an appointment or at least another call of longer duration. This type of call is infamously known as the "Cold Call". If done right, with preparation and practice, you can turn it into a "Warm Call". Here are some basics to help you:

1. Develop a script for your call and rehearse it periodically and out loud. Make sure you keep it brief remembering the goal is an appointment or another call. If too much is exchanged during that call there will be no reason for another.

2. Always stand when making a call. This will help you sound better and project confidence. Did you ever see a choir group sit when they sing?

3. Learn to talk with a smile. People hear your smile; and since they can't see you don't have to worry about looking silly if you've not done it before.

Hint: Hang a small mirror opposite you at the height you are standing. I dare anyone to stare at themselves in a mirror during a phone call and not crack a smile.

4. Make a list of your most feared questions. Script your answers and rehearse them out loud. Practice delivering each answer in 5 to 10 seconds.

5. Use an exercise-call: Always call a friend for exercise before calling someone who could be influential in your search. Having a friendly voice at the other end can do wonders before an important call.

6. Care & Feeding of Gatekeepers: Before calling a potential contact direct, try this: Call the company’s main number and ask for the name of the contact’s administrator. Call that person direct, and use his or her name.

7. Well begun is half done: Using a person’s name (the gatekeeper’s) may win you favor. Be polite and brief and understand you may not get through during that call and that’s okay; it’s an opportunity to demonstrate your flexibility. Ask the gatekeeper to suggest what you should do.

7 1/2. Don’t call me; I’ll call you: If asked to leave a number you can say that you will be in and out for the next several days and it would probably be best for you to try to call. Ask when h/she thinks it would be best.

8. Get Referrals: Research companies, reconnect with all your past contacts and seek referrals. Introductory Calls should be calls to persons to whom you are referred. It’s easier to get through a gatekeeper if you call and mention that Mr/Ms suggested you call.

9. Contacts to referrals: Treat your personal contacts as you would influential persons: Have a script and keep it brief. Brevity helps to ensure they don’t avoid your next call.

10. Voice Mail Jail: If you get sent to voice mail, you can try “O” to get an operator and perhaps find another number or person. Do not leave a voice mail message. If you do, you cannot call back anytime soon. You placed the ball in their court.

In a job search, we sometimes attach the “phone call” to all sorts of negative emotions, the greatest being rejection. Practicing the basic skills outlined in 1 through 4 and the other techniques suggested here will lessen an instinct to avoid the phone. This is the first step in overcoming phone phobia. Also, learn from experience. As they say, if you want to learn golf, play golf. After a few calls, following your exercise call to a friend, it starts to get easier.

Hope this helps!


Rob Taub of RésuméPro PLUS