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Kevin Donlin

Kevin Donlin

(Guest post by Kevin Donlin, Co-Creator of the Guerrilla Job Search System.)

“How can I find the best companies to work for?”

That’s a question most job seekers ask almost daily.

It’s hard to answer … because it’s the wrong question.

Here’s the real issue beneath that question: “I don’t want to have to think hard about finding the best companies to work for.”

Admit it. You — like me and all humans — hate to think.

It takes time. You have to pick and choose. You might make a mistake. And it can give you a headache.

But unthinking behavior is a sure way to stay unemployed.

So, let’s re-phrase the query, because a well-phrased question is half-answered.

If you’ve been job hunting for more than 4 weeks, ask this question instead: “What have I NOT been willing to do to find the best companies to work for?”

That’s better. And easier to answer. In fact, here 4 things you can do TODAY to find the best employers to work for …

1) Look at your connections on LinkedIn.  I mean really look. Pick 5 people 
     you admire, view their profiles, and look for the following:
    *  Where do they work now? (Could you work there?)
    *  Where did they work before? (Could you work there?)
    *  Who are their clients? (Could you work there?)
    *  Who are their competitors? (Could you work there?)
    *  Who are their vendors? (Could you work there?)

Do this for 5, 10, or more people, and you’ll surely find 5-20 prospective employers.

2) Make connections at your last employers.  Specifically, think about
     everyplace you’ve worked before. Now ask yourself the following questions:
    * Could you work there again? (Could you work there again? Don’t snicker —
        getting re-hired happens every day.)
    * Could you work for your former clients?
    * Could you work for your former competitors?
    * Could you work for your former vendors?

3) Find companies in the news.  Spend 15-20 minutes researching the
      Business section of your local newspaper, looking for fast, smart, growing
      companies. Can’t find any? Consider moving (or looking harder).

4) Ask 5 people you admire.  I saved this for last, but it really ought to
      come first. Because, the more conversations you have, the more people
      will know about your job search — and the faster you’ll get hired.  So, ask
      the 5 most connected people you know for advice.

Tip: Take them all out for coffee, bring a legal pad, take notes. In 30-45 minutes, you’ll surely come away with answers that will shorten your job search. Total cost: Less than $30.

[If you’re in the job market and want to try something new, you can see Guerilla Job Search secrets caught on video and learn more here.]

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G.L. Hoffman, a serial entrepreneur and venture investor / operator / incubator / mentor and chairman of JobDig.com Tweeted today about a post on his blog “What Would Dad Say” that originally was published on Dec. 30, 2008 entitled “The Six Word Resume Contest, It’s a Meme.”  In it he challenges readers to “post your favorite six word resume ideas to your blog.”  At the moment, my favorite six word resume idea is about  me:

Organization in Transition Aspiring Greatness: Leader

UPDATE: Click here to learn how to find your next job instead of waiting for your next job to find you.

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UPDATE: Click here to learn how to find your next job instead of waiting for it to find you.

 

This is the third post of a three-part series offering concrete, actionable ideas for how to separate yourself from the pack in today’s feverishly-competitive job market.

 

In Part I, I shared the Sales Cover Letter (“Your Resume Won’t Get You a Job”) as an approach for making your resume stand out and get you the face-to-face interview.  In Part II, I proposed the Interview Binder (“You Can Have Them at ‘Hello’”), a tool for optimal pre-interview preparation and creating a leadership impression with the interviewer(s) before the first question.

 

Part III:  Ask yourself this — Will the people interviewing you remember you after you’ve left the room? What will they remember? How can you be sure?

 

“Numerous psychological studies have shown that human beings are not very good at identifying people they saw only once for a relatively short period of time. The studies reveal error rates of as high as fifty percent,” wrote Michael C. Dorf, Vice Dean and Professor of Law at Columbia University, in a 2001 article “How Reliable is Eyewitness Testimony” published on FindLaw.com.  Fifty percent.

 

My solution – leave a big piece of you behind to speak for you. 

 

I’m talking about a Capabilities eBrochure, a leave-behind collateral piece that is all about you, your skills, experience and accomplishments, and most importantly, your plan for success for the new position if hired. And the way I suggest it, you put your face right on the cover.

 

Today’s executive job market is a buyer’s market. Organizations have no trouble attracting 1000 or more resumes for a VP-level position posted on TheLadders.com, and the short list of finalists can include 10 or more candidates.  Each gets an hour. Interviewed back-to-back over a couple of days. With a mad scramble to check email and voicemail in between meetings. How was it you planned to stand out in that mess?

 

Marketing, public relations and advertising agencies understand well this beauty pageant routine when competing for new business and wouldn’t think to show up for such a meeting without their carefully-prepared and rehearsed capabilities presentations, and copies to leave behind.

 

The Capabilities eBrochure is a document any professional can create without any special software or skills.  It can be created in a weekend and produced in quantity for relatively little money. The basics of the Capabilities eBrochure look like this:

  • Software.  Use software you already have and should know how to use well – Microsoft PowerPoint (or equivalent presentation software like Zoho Show).
  • Look-and-Feel.  This is basically a magazine or sales collateral about you. Make it attractive and artistic. If you can’t, then hire someone who can. This should NOT look like a hard copy of a Powerpoint presentation.
  • Section 1: Reasons Why They Should Hire You.  The front of the eBrochure is your canvas to articulate the specific criteria the organization should use to choose the winning candidate, and why you exceed each.
  • Section 2: Your Plan for Success.  “What have you done lately” isn’t good enough any more.  Companies hiring VP-level and C-level executives expect you to know what you’ll accomplish for them in your first 100 days and to be able to tell them.  Put your 100-Day Plan here.
  • Addenda: Supporting Documents.  This is where you can add a very select set of evidence that clearly supports the reasons to hire you and/or your 100 Day Plan. Add only enough to make your point. Too much and they’ll never read it.
  • Production.  Don’t scrimp here. Print the eBrochure on high quality semi-gloss paper, 24# weight or higher. Go to Fedex Office, Office Depot or OfficeMax and get each document coil-bound with a clear front cover and rigid black back cover. Make enough for everyone in the room PLUS anyone not there who you might want to send one to later.
  • Presentation.  When you enter the room, quietly pull the stack of eBrochures from your briefcase and place them in front of you. Don’t say anything about them until the opportune moment. Generally in an interview, there is a moment when the candidate is asked, “What would your first 90-100 days on board look like?”  This is that moment. Now is when you hand them out. Depending on your audience, you may want to lead them through each page, or you may want to selectively cite content on specific pages to support points you make as your interview progresses.

Final thought: I’ve linked an eBrochure (Mark Olson Capabilities eBrochure) I developed and used recently for an executive-level marketing position at a private college. I am making a major career change into higher education and it’s important for me to explain why I am qualified and why I will make a major difference.

 

If you have thoughts or similar documents you’d like to share, I’d love to see them.

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UPDATE: Click here to learn how to find your next job instead of waiting for it to find you.

 

This is the first of a three-part series offering concrete, actionable ideas for how to separate yourself from the pack in today’s feverishly-competitive job market using marketing and sales, instead of job hunting, techniques.

 

Part I:  Your resume won’t get you a job.  Not by itself, anyway.  And probably not the version you’re using now.  Still thousands of experienced professionals carpet-bomb the few openings available today with a resume and a 2-line cover letter.

 

A Sales Cover Letter with your resume can get you a job.  More on this tool in a minute.

 

Look at a job search from the perspective of a search professional or committee, or hiring manager.  Each is working with a thoughtfully-prepared Position Description that elucidates the typical responsibilities and candidate requirements for the position.  Once advertised, the next step is to sort through 100 to 1,500 applications that consist mostly of 1-to-4 page resumes (all in different formats and with candidate data presented from the candidate’s perspective) and cover letters that often are not much more than two lines that say “check out my resume and you’ll see I’m a perfect fit.”

 

So who ends up doing the work to figure out if you’re a good fit and whether your resume should be moved to the top of the pile?  The search professional/hiring manager?  If you knew about the same position and met the hiring manager on the street, would you use that opportunity to hand over your resume, tell him/her to read it to see that you’re a perfect fit, and walk away?  See where the mass mailing approach breaks down?

 

Look at it even another way…if you were doing your marketing, sales or business development job for your employer and met a potential customer on the street, would you just hand the prospect a brochure, tell them to read it to see that your product or service was perfect for them, and walk away?  Probably not.

 

The Sales Cover Letter is your spokesperson on the hiring manager/search professional’s desk.  It does the work of matching your skills, experience and accomplishments to each and every Position Requirement.  It does so from the hiring manager’s perspective, but in your own voice.  And in an ocean of two-line cover letters, your Sales Cover Letter will leap off the pile and speak directly to the hiring manager about your fit.

 

The basic construct of the Sales Cover Letter I’m suggesting looks like this:

  1. Opening Paragraph:  State the position for which you are applying.
  2. Benefit Statement:  State what the benefit to the employer will be if they hire you.  If you don’t know, stop.  You’re not ready to apply yet.  Do your homework until you do know.
  3. Why You Care:  Explain your inspiration for seeking the position.  If you can’t think of anything more thoughtful than “I want a job at your company” then don’t apply until you can.  If you can’t express why you care, why should they.
  4. Point-by-Point:  This is the key section.  Copy-and-paste the Position Description into your letter and break it down sentence by sentence or by each discernable criteria.  Sometimes a Position Description will repeat criteria and it is OK to group them together.  Under each criteria, take as much room as you need to make your case, but use clear, crisp, well-written sentences.  Use bullet points as needed to make it an easy read.  Only state verifiable facts.  Emphasize results, not action.  Quality versus quantity.
  5. Call to Action:  Invite the followup call, then stop writing.  You’re done.

FAQs

Q:  Shouldn’t a cover letter be no longer than 150 words.

A:  If your resume is littered with experience at Fortune 500 companies or category leaders (e.g. Google and  Intel for tech; Procter & Gamble for CPG; etc.) and your career plan is to stay in the same industry, then 150 word cover letter might be enough.  For most, this simply doesn’t work.  Moreover, I have yet to see a Position Description that is only 150 words.

 

Q:  How can I use the Sales Cover Letter when online job boards only provide for attaching a PDF of a resume and separately including a cover letter of 750 words or less in a text window?

A:  Create a personalized Sales Cover Letter according to the construct above and bundle your resume as the last pages so you produce a PDF that is all one document.  Use the space provided by the online job board to explain how the employer will benefit from hiring you, and invite them to read further in the attached PDF Sales Cover Letter/Resume.

 

Q:  What if I use the Sales Cover Letter format, but I don’t have skills or experience to list against every criteria?

A:  Then you’re probably not qualified for the position and you shouldn’t apply.  Sorry.  The Sales Cover Letter also can serve as a filter to keep you from wasting your time and the hiring manager’s time.

 

Final Tip.  If you use the Sales Cover Letter to its fullest potential, you are going to apply to 1/10th the number of openings you did previously, but you are going to make a 10x better application for each.  It can take up to a week to write each Letter.  I’m reminded of an old business joke…”we’re going to lose money on each unit, but we’ll make it up in volume…”  The same is true here.  If you’re not compelling in a single letter, sending out hundreds of half-hearted efforts isn’t going to improve your chances.

 

Tuesday: Part II:  The Interview Binder
Wednesday: Part III:  The Closing eBrochure

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