“What’s your anxiety right now on a scale from 1-10?” I asked him.
“I’d give it a six...” Jason replied nervously.
We had arrived at the part of the job search that makes everyone uneasy: networking. And Jason was especially unexcited about being there.
I’ve been trying to contact recruiters in my job search, but I’m not getting anywhere. I had assumed their role was all about helping people like me, but it seems like agencies just put you on their books and never offer you anything - you are just a number.
Am I going about this all wrong? How can I get recruiters to actually pay attention to me and help me find a job?
The job search often feels like a black box -- you have no idea which inputs actually get noticed and make a difference in getting you that job offer.
But while the complex process of applying, networking and interviewing for jobs does require a strategic approach, I'm happy to share my four favorite phrases that quickly cut through the noise and dramatically improve my clients’ job search results.
In this article I share the four phrases -- and more importantly, the mindsets beneath them -- that drive not only job search success, but career success.
One of the biggest mistakes job seekers (and all professionals) make is waiting to engage with their network until they need something.
Although we know we should “always be networking,” most professionals avoid networking because it feels time consuming, scary, and inauthentic.
But there’s a quick, easy and genuine networking activity you can do from your desk that improves your relationships, dramatically alters your career opportunities, and makes the world a better place.
Most people struggle with networking because of what I call the “scary-slimy-useless” trio:
- Networking can feel scary -- like you’re willingly putting yourself at risk of rejection or feeling like an imposter.
- Networking can feel slimy -- like you’re disingenuously using people to get what you want.
- Networking can feel useless -- like no matter how many events or coffee dates you attend, you’re still not making progress.
But by changing your mindset and approach, you can transform the way you feel about networking and the results you see from it.
If you’re just starting out in your job search, you may have spent time clicking around and applying to jobs online (nine out of ten early-stage job seekers tell me this). If so, take a moment to celebrate; shifting from thinking to action is the most challenging step in any endeavor.
But now let me level with you:
Successful job seekers focus on spending more time with people -- and less with postings.
In a complex, quickly-shifting job market with overwhelming options, you need peopleto give you context and guidance on where to focus your job search energy -- which positions to pursue, how to pursue them, and who can help you land them.
I know, I’ve said it countless times, and I’ll say it again: 85% of jobs are landed through networking. Yes, it requires picking up the phone and putting yourself out there. But the positive effects are staggering. I’ve seen languishing, months-old applications turn into interviews the same day an outreach email was sent to the right person, and I’ve seen informal interviews turn into on-the-spot job offers for positions that weren’t even posted.
And not only are the results of networking fast-acting and illuminating; as daunting as reaching out for help may seem, people have a magical way of injecting confidence and momentum into your search (both of which are hard to generate on your own).
Hence, what every early-stage job seeker needs most is a short and sweet plan for connecting with real people who can point you in the right direction and help you set your search up for success.
Read the full article for your five-step, human-centered, job search startup plan
I firmly believe that Stanford Professor Carol Dweck’s research on the growth mindset can positively impact all aspects of our personal and professional lives, which is why I share a 2-page summary of Dweck’s book with all of my clients.
For those of you who aren’t familiar with Dweck’s research, here’s the 2-bullet summary:
- Dweck shows that with the growth mindset, you can train your mind to approach challenges with wonder, excitement and resilience.
- In contrast, the fixed mindset carries the detrimental effect of making us react to challenges with fear or avoidance, hence diminishing our potential to grow.
When I was working in Silicon Valley, I heard “growth mindset” used often in meetings about hitting goals or shifting directions. But to me, job seekers are the audience that can most benefit from Dweck’s findings. Because every phase of today’s job search process requires us to face rejection and a host of other challenges, the growth mindset is almost required for getting the job. And quite simply, it can make it a whole lot more fun.
Keep reading for the five reasons the growth mindset seeker lands the job -- and how to put those tenets into action yourself.
So you’re moving forward in your search, but you feel like you’ve tapped your existing network for support and introductions. With the knowledge that 85% of jobs are landed through networking, what else can you do to position yourself for success?
You got it: more networking (I know, queue agonizing scream...).
There are many reasons why people don’t like reaching out to someone they don’t know: It’s uncomfortable. It’s scary. It may result in silence or rejection.
But here’s why you should: There is nothing to lose, and a whole lot to gain -- an introduction, an interview, or a job offer -- if you do it right.
My clients who use this template see 60-70% of people they reach out to responding positively. Pause and think about that for a second: From your desk, you could send 10 brief emails and make 6-7 new connections, and then wow them with your dynamite informational interview skills. That’s 6-7 new advocates to help you succeed in your search.
So how do you do it?
The goal is to show this person you don’t know that, in fact, you’re already connected.
You want to show that through some shared experience, passion, or aspect of your identities, you are not strangers, but allies. As a stranger, you are easy to ignore amidst the busy working day and inbox overflow. But as an ally, you are someone worth making time for -- especially when you show her that you will use her precious time wisely and create value for her in return.
Take a look at our template and steps to craft your perfect cold email. It shouldn’t take more than 20 minutes to write once you master the technique.
So you’ve figured out who you want to speak with to move forward in your job search, and you’re getting ready for an informational interview.
What would make this conversation a success?
Some people mistakenly think informational interviews are informal and all about relationship-building. But the real opportunity in an informational interview is to convince someone to become your advocate, by getting you an interview or another introduction in the right direction.
A 2016 survey revealed that 85% of jobs are found via networking, and experts tend to agree that only 30% of all jobs are posted online. Master the informational interview, and this can become the key to landing your next gig.
Here's how to convince someone you’re worthy of a little effort and a little risk, by making sure they leave your conversation thinking:
- “He knows what he wants.”
- “He came prepared with reasonable expectations.”
- “I know exactly how to help him.”
- “I want to help him.”