What’s on your t-shirt

Chatting with a friend over coffee yesterday, he brought up Seth’s post about the t-shirt rule.

In typical fashion (doesn’t take much) we got distracted from the other thing we were talking about and spend a few minutes brainstorming how a job seeker could use t-shirts in their job search. Some of the bizarre ideas involved having your skills or achievements printed on the front of the t-shirt and your contact details on the back. Making up about half a dozen or so and wearing a different one each day. You could even wear it to a job fair, networking event or an interview (OK maybe not an interview), but it would certainly get you noticed, people would have something they would want to talk to you about, and you would almost definitely (can I use those two words together?) be memorable.

After the 5 minutes of hilarity, it struck me, if you had to choose just 6 or 7 of your best, strongest traits, skills, habits, achievements to adorn a t-shirt what would they be?

As Seth concludes “If you’re they’re not t-shirt worthy, what would it take?”

Elevator pitch thinking.

I’ve spoken to a number of job seekers over the last few months, and I noticed people fall broadly into three types.

The “on-target” group, know what job they want and what type of company they want to work for. Some even have a much clearer sense of what they want to accomplish in the role and where that will take them.

The “anything” group, know they have a broad range of skills and have a great track record, but don’t want to limit themselves to just one thing, just in case something else turns up that looks interesting.

The “don’t know” group, unlike the first two groups, these folks aren’t even aware of what they like doing, or what they want to do.

You can tell which group someone falls into from their response to a simple question: “What type of work are you looking for?”.

Even if you never use your Elevator Pitch creating one will help sort out your thinking and decide what it is you want to do. Or more to the point, when you decide what it is you want to do, you’ll find constructing an elevator pitch that much easier.

So don’t start with trying to word an elevator pitch, start with thinking what it is you want and like to do. When your happy with that answer, then you can go and try and create your elevator pitch.

12 Days of Job Hunting. Days 9 to 12

9th Day. So far we have written a resume, developed our marketing pitches and constructed a networking list, moving forward we are now going to start building our target company lists and add some other items to the mix including cover letters and some general tips. The primary task for Day 9 is to identify a list of organizations that you wish to target as potential employers. This is important at a number of levels, firstly it provides you with a focus, and you are not shooting resumes every which way rather you are focused on networking your way into an organization and insuring that your pitch, resume and cover letter (coming soon) are targeted. We are also going to use this list as part of our networking activities.

10th Day. The days are rushing by and as we call or email our network contacts our primary goal is to set up meetings either in person or if that is not practical by phone. With our target company list we can now provide a focus to our contacts on the types of people we are trying to connect with. Often when we ask the question “who else should I be talking with?” you are met with a blank stare as your contact has not been prepared. With the target company list we can now provide this information in advance and have a better chance of success in getting that elusive next step. To summarize, Day 10 is focused on setting up networking meetings and from now on we should allocate a portion of the day to setting up those meetings. Set a weekly goal as to the number of meeting you need to make in order to build out your network.

11th Day. Let us now start stretching our wings and adding some additional tools to our arsenal. As part of reaching out to our contacts it is necessary for us to utilize as many tools as possible and LinkedIn dot com and Plaxo dot com are two well known and business focused web sites. Build out your profile and connect with ex-colleagues from previous employers. This works just as well if you are employed and looking for the next great opportunity, make sure that your digital profile is out there and up to date. Recruiters troll the networking sites looking for strong potential candidates and in my experience I have seen senior level appointments being made as a result of these profiles. Our final piece of marketing collateral is the cover letter. Many recruiters will tell you that they never read it and they are a waste of time, others will say that they are crucial to the decision as to inviting the candidate in for an interview. As we are unable to determine which recruiter is which from an advertisement it is better to err on the side of caution and prepare a strong letter that clearly lays out your qualifications for the position. The worst that can happen is that is ignored.

12th Day. The last day in our program, this day is being devoted to summarizing important To Dos and adding some addition tricks and tips.

1. Create a professional email address; barefootwrestler @ xxxxx dot com does not portray a great impression.

2. A resume is not a chapter in a book. Focus on information that is relevant to your future employer. They do not want a life story. Ensure that your industry key words are in the resume.

3. The cover letter should clearly lay out your qualifications for the position.

4. The “Why I am no longer with?” and “Tell me about yourself” pitches should be practiced and focused on delivering success. No criticism of previous employers.

5. A solid list of contacts to build your network is vital.

6. Create a list of target companies.

7. Build your digital profile (You own your brand, make it work for you)

8. Set achievable targets and keep to them.

9. Network, network and network.

10. Success is directly proportional to the amount of effort you invest.

Good Hunting.

12 Days of Job Hunting. Days 7 & 8

7th Day. This is not the day of rest rather this is the day of building your marketing pitches. There are two components to this process. The first is “Why did you leave xxxx?” What we are looking for here is a short, concise and accurate answer that does not raise red flags in the mind of any interviewer. If you have been let go as part of a reduction in workforce then let interviewer know, something like “As I am sure you are aware xxx have been reducing their workforce recently and unfortunately this has directly affected me.” If you were let go for other reasons then a simple, non confrontational explanation that does not in any way hint of blame or criticism is the best approach. The second pitch that we are discussing is the answer to the question “Tell me about yourself”. The underlying questions here are “Why should I hire you?” or “What value are you brining to the table?” The goal is to provide a short, one and a half to two minute recitation of your career that highlights, remember the interviewer is looking to hear about your strengths, abilities and skills and how they will benefit the organization. They are not looking to know when you last had a vacation (unless it is pertinent to the position) but they do want to hear what you did at what job that is relevant to them.

8th Day. We have covered a lot at this point and we are now ready to start talking to people about ourselves and opportunities that may exist in the market place. On Day 6 we discussed getting together a list of all your contacts. Bring them together, old and new and put them into a contact system designed to help you network, something that provides you with calendars, to-do lists, reminders, etc. (www.vitualjobcoach.com is a great place to start). The average person knows around 200 people and that should be sufficient to get you started. It is often said that Networking is the key to finding a job and in my time as an Outplacement consultant I can confirm that to be true. Well over 90% of my clients find their next position through a friend of a friend, or an alumni group, or through another organization that they belong to. Remember that you are never approaching someone to ask for a job, you are always asking for advice, this is less threatening and the majority of people are more than happy to dispense advice for free. The next point to remember about networking is the most important question. “Who else should I be talking to?” this is the question that gets you to the next step. See you on Day 9. Good Hunting.