As a LinkedIn profile writer, I speak to many job seekers regularly, and have begun to notice a trend: Those who find jobs more quickly all practice the same behavior. Those who don’t find jobs, all practice the same behavior.
So let’s compare.
Those who find jobs faster do this:
They knock on a lot of doors.
My friend Elsa was let go last October. Her whole life turned upside down fast. She lost her home, and moved in with a friend. In February, just 4 months later, she landed a job.
“Elsa, what’s your secret?” I asked.
Grinning, she said, “I talked to people!”
In today’s job market, more than 80% of jobs are filled by referral. This means successful job seekers must reach out and network, connecting with complete strangers with maddening regularity. For many, especially introverts, initiating conversations with strangers feels unnatural. But as a former job seeker and now an entrepreneur myself, I can confirm the shortest road to landing a satisfying gig: By knocking on a lot of doors.
The friendliest neighborhood to knock? I prefer LinkedIn because it’s predominantly a relationship building tool, designed to help you build trust and become known.
Here are the steps I recommend for initiating and developing relationships on LinkedIn:
- Target companies you might want to work at.
- Research people who work there, in the department you’d like to work.
- Find like-mindedness, either on their profile or via their online reputation. Now you have a way to connect.
- Request a connection, customizing your message by being affirming, curious and genuine.
- Once connected, request a conversation, by phone or in person, to learn more about them, and exchange information. You’re not asking for a job.
- Congratulations. You are now known.
And that’s a solid road to landing a job – by becoming known to lots of people. Because when a job does become available at their company, they will think of you. And why wouldn’t they? You listened, were curious, offered insights about their business pain points, and ended by asking, “How can I help you?” You’re also tied to them on LinkedIn, using this very connect-y ecosystem to provide value and stay in touch.
In contrast, those stuck in job search make these 2 mistakes:
1) They don’t knock on doors.
Instead, they apply in earnest to job boards, and become cynical pretty fast. I spoke to a client this week who said, “I have an MBA. No one I send my resume to responds to me!” His resume keeps landing in the dreaded black hole.
When I told him the 80%/20% rule, he wasn’t surprised, which begs the question: Why do many job seekers participate in a process they know doesn’t work? Because job boards give the illusion that you’re doing something productive by pursuing a real job. In contrast, knocking on doors seems like a gamble, because you’re only pursuing the possibility of a real job. Consider this: By knocking on doors, you’re real to the people who will inevitably face a job vacancy at their organization; by applying to a job board, you’re a faceless, paper abstraction. Now what seems like the safer bet?
2) They are afraid to risk.
One of my clients, “Mary,” is so afraid of saying the wrong thing, of reaching out to the wrong person, and of asking people to help her, that she is immobilized. As a result, she hasn’t interviewed in months. It is outside her comfort zone to initiate contact with unfamiliar people, because of the “shoulds,” or self-limiting beliefs in her head that hold her back.
Job search forces many of us to bump up against old self-limiting beliefs. For my client Mary, her beliefs are “You shouldn’t burden people by asking for help,” and “Why would anyone want to talk to me?” Those are the most common “self-limiting beliefs” I hear from job seekers.
In truth, some company insiders don’t want to talk to you. Last year, when I reached out to someone for an informational conversation she replied, “No. You are a low priority.” In my experience though, those responses are rare, and a reflection of her bad manners, not mine. I connect with many more people who are open to a conversation because they’ve recently gone through a job search themselves, or know they will someday and want good karma. In addition, 69% of organizations have employee referral programs. Therefore, it’s often to an employee’s financial advantage to have a conversation with you.
Here’s some really good news:
Every time you risk, you will gain new, vital information.
During my job seeking or business growth stages, every time I spoke to someone new, I inched forward, learning my strengths and weaknesses. For example, I learned I spoke too fast, and needed to be more concise. I also learned I was a good listener and empathizer; I often heard, “You pulled me forward. Thank you.”
Each risk I took gave me new information, helping to build up my own unique arsenal of strengths, confidence and charisma–and helped me craft my branding message in an inviting way. Those qualities make employers sit up and take notice.
If you are stuck in your job search, know this: There are many employers out there that need your particular brand of creativity, of thoughtfulness and integrity, of perseverance, process improvement skills . . . you fill in the blank with your superpowers.
Keep knocking on doors because eventually, someone will let you in, and invite you to stay.
Julie Bondy Roberts, MA, GCDF is a LinkedIn™ Profile Writer and LinkedIn trainer. She is the founder of Coming Alive Career Coaching. To learn more about LinkedIn™ Profile Makeover packages & training your group or organization on growing your business through LinkedIn, contact Julie at firstname.lastname@example.org. You can also follow Julie on Twitter and Facebook.
I hope you found some helpful information here today. If you did, be sure to share this article with your connections. They will definitely appreciate your thoughtfulness.