Networking not working? Craft a more compelling message.
Working with a marketing executive recently, I mentioned the importance of using networking in his job search to target hiring managers directly. The exasperated exhale on his side of the phone spoke volumes.
“I’ve tried that,” he said. “Twice I actually got to a hiring manager and both times the hiring manager told me to go through HR.”
With my background in sales, I know very well that you have to go through a lot of NOs to get to YES. But telling my marketer about the numbers game (which he’s very familiar with) didn’t seem enough. What meaty insight could I add that would make a real difference in his outlook and his results?
The answer came to me on Thursday. I was attending my Certified Job Search Strategist class and I posed this question to the instructor, job search luminary Beverly Harvey. On the line were several career experts. We all know the situation. The traditional approach of sending out resumes in response to posted openings is not effective. HR departments are down to a skeleton crew. They don’t have time to go through hundreds of resumes and are relying on internal referrals to fill positions.
But what can I say to the savvy job seeker who gets that, is using targeted networking, and is experiencing disappointing results? Once Beverly gave me her answer, I thought “of course!” Then I came up with three ways to make the most of her insight.
She said, “If the hiring manager is referring you to HR, your message is not compelling enough. You should be presenting yourself as a solution to a serious problem.” Here’s my suggestion for doing just that, in three simple steps.
- Define your value. What urgent problems does your industry face—that you can solve?
- Research your target companies’ needs. What are their specific pain points? This research can include informational interviews that would help you hone your message while also making important contacts—very efficient!
- Lead with generosity and sizzle. Once you understand your contact’s problems, and how you are uniquely qualified to alleviate them, lead with an offer to help. This could mean sending over a case study describing how you solved a similar conundrum, or an offer to sit down and brainstorm ideas. Don’t mention your need for a job. Just think sincerely about how you might help, regardless of what it would mean for you. Opportunities will spring from this!
Note: Sending something other than a resume, such as the case study mentioned above or a value proposition letter, is key since many companies strongly enforce a policy that requires all resumes to go through HR.
I know, simple steps aren’t necessarily easy ones. But if you go back to replying to job ads and shooting your resume into the black hole of corporate application portals, you’re almost certain to be disappointed.
Follow your bliss,
Chief Career Storyteller, Movin’ On Up Resumes