The emphasis for most job seekers is on how to clearly communicate strengths to the potential employer. While that is critical, the way in which you focus on skills, experiences, and talents has to appeal to the needs of the hiring manager and corporation in order to get an interview. One of the most productive strategies to facilitate this “match” between you and the company is to do a little background research.
1) Research the Company
Use the Internet and local resources to find out all you can about the organization. Most communities have a business section of the newspaper or perhaps a separate publication. The Chamber of Commerce may also have company profiles. It’s not just major corporations you want to investigate; it can also be helpful to analyze changes among small, local businesses. Which ones may be expanding? Which ones are on the decline? Target your energy toward those most likely to render positive results.
2) Local Networking
Expand your research to look for networking opportunities. Most papers continue to have local news about social events and the “movers and shakers” in attendance. Perhaps there are some opportunities for you to become involved in the same organizations and meet these individuals outside the office. Most sources still report that networking continues to be a job-seeker’s strongest key to opening employment doors.
Okay, you’ve identified the best potential prospects within your target market. Now, you must get ready to start calling. Be organized. Rank your contact list from those companies that are most appealing to those that are least interesting. Include phone numbers, email, snail mail, and the identified contact person. Set it up like a log so you can keep notes about conversations, such as the day you called, the outcome, and any follow-up plan. You don’t want to appear disorganized by calling the same person within a couple of weeks!
Prepare a script for phone calls, including your selling points, but more specifically, have responses ready for potential objections. That’s the beauty of phones – no one can see you’re referring to your notes.
Typical examples of objections include:
“I’m very busy” or “We’re not hiring”…
I understand, however, in researching your organization, I feel I can positively impact your bottom line perhaps without the investment of a salaried position, at least at the outset. May I send a proposal?
“You need to talk to HR”…
Whom should I contact? I’m happy to provide a resume and an outline of my proposals to improve sales or maximize employee productivity to keep on file.
4) Dropping by
Take a resume and a brief bio of your highlights that align most closely with the organization’s current mission. Here is where your research pays off. Brainstorming about potential special projects or ways your unique skill set can benefit the company’s new direction can set you apart. This approach is an expansion of old ideas about cover letters – showing the company you have gone beyond just “doing your homework” to actually envisioning yourself within their corporate mission. Companies typically need people with vision and initiative, and they will take notice.
Don’t try to make an impression by leaving your glossy 8×10 headshot, using fancy fonts, and colored paper. Take a professional approach. Attach your business card and make certain you use your best contact information – which means staying away from anything related to a current place of employment or an informal email address. Include your bio or project proposals.
5) What is your brand?
Think of yourself as a product. What are you trying to “sell” to the employer? What is it about your “brand” that can optimize the company’s bottom line? These are points to emphasize in any brief contact you have with the organization. This can be the brief bio you provide, a voice mail, or an email message, all of which should contain a consistent message about strengths, skills, or that special project you are offering. This is not a time to be secretive, coy, or too concerned about proprietary rights. If you have a great idea and the company actually usurps it, you have dated documentation of when you provided this to the company. In that event, you have a very different scenario on your hands. What you want to focus on is your initiative and willingness to be a team player even before you become a part of the team. Hopefully, you can lessen the odds of any negative outcome by conducting thorough research that includes some information about the company’s ethics, relationships with staff, and orientation toward innovation and intellectual property.
6) Stay Positive
Keeping up your energy level and a positive attitude are important aspects of your job search, though a bit less tangible. Be aware of the energy you project when you enter a room. Even though it can be easy to slip into the doldrums if you have not been able to achieve the results you want as quickly as you would like, it is critical that you maintain a positive attitude. Perhaps doing research about the company has energized you about new possibilities. Remember to keep up your exercise program, leisure activities, and friendships for rejuvenation.
Your positive attitude is the strongest asset you can display to potential employers. If contacts at your target organizations remember their interactions with you in a positive way, you are more likely to get a return call. Do your research and put your plan in motion to get that interview!
Author: Alesia Benedic