By: Heather Tranen
While being open-minded and flexible is important in job searches, twisting yourself into a pretzel isn’t going to help you move forward. You need to have a clearly-articulated schtick, goal set, and sense of self-awareness when executing a job search. I’ve outlined some tips for the overly-malleable to help you refine your approach when seeking new opportunities.
First, the what-NOT-to-dos.
Don’t just send a text or a mass email to your network. “I’m open to anything! I just need a job!” does not instill faith in a potential connection or employer that you’re invested in their area of work. Up to 85% of jobs are said to be found through networking, but networking is only effective if you execute it strategically.
When you don’t take the time to clearly adapt a message to a point of contact and show them how you provide value, why you are reaching out to them, and what area of their industry interests you, then you may as well just bang your head against the wall. By conducting a job search with strategic networking, you’ll accomplish your goals much faster than you would if you took the bang-your-head-against-the-wall approach.
Instead, do this.
“Hi there! Long time no talk. I noticed on LinkedIn that you’re pursuing account management work at Twitter! I’m obsessed with the platform myself, and have worked in various business development roles in the past – always exceeding goals. I would love to talk to you about your experience in this role, and get any insight you might have on how I can conduct an effective job search at other sales roles in the tech space. If you have fifteen minutes to talk, please let me know some days and times that work for you.”
What does this informational interview request do well?
It shows a connection.
This method of reaching out tells the person where you found them and why you are reaching out, and clearly articulates how your skills and interests align with them. Letting people know you found them on LinkedIn or were referred to them by your mom, their J.Crew stylist (true story – that’s how I got my first job), or through your school’s alumni network is an invaluable step toward making connections.
(You are never too old to use your college’s alumni database. Especially if you’re still paying back loans.)
It outlines your goals.
People are happy to help if you give them the right guidance and make it easy for them. Informational interviewing (emphasis on “informational”) is key to solid networking and job searching, and will eventually land you a good job. No one wants to “keep an eye out” for a job for you. That’s your job.
However, most people love sharing their expertise and giving insight. Having information as your goal will help you to get valuable information, show them you are informed on their area of expertise, and hopefully give them the confidence needed to eventually give you a referral.
It gives a digestible time frame.
No one wants to dedicate an hour to awkward conversation with a stranger. Instead, giving a short timeframe shows consideration for their time, and makes it a more welcome opportunity for the potential contact.
Focused, strategic networking and informational interviews are your keys to opening employment opportunities during your job search. If you feel you’ve been doing informational interviews, but haven’t received the responses or developed the relationships you wanted, perhaps it’s time to get some help with the process. Mentors, coaches, and anyone else who will be brutally honest with you can be indispensable as you work out which direction you want to go. A clearly-articulated schtick can take you a long way.
As the founder of Schtick, Heather Tranen helps the pragmatically passionate find their schtick and make stuff happen. She believes that finding a meaningful career goes beyond blindly following passion. It takes hard work, introspection, and a little dose of reality. She partners with individuals and companies to help people discover and channel their value.