Jobs is a four letter word

How many unemployed people have asked to meet with managers in the last year?

 A few weeks back I had coffee with the CEO of an international environmental company.  He was lamenting about how many folks from his past were seeking him out for career assistance.  One after another were asking if he knew about any jobs.  Some folks he had not heard from in 20 years. He was openly frustrated. This gentleman really likes to help people, but he shared that he doesn’t even know what to tell them anymore. 

I believe the problem is that these folks are asking for jobs, when they should have be approaching networking opportunities differently.

In normal times asking enough folks about jobs worked.  Make a lot of calls to old friends and, a few friends of friends, and you were likely to stir up an opening that fits your skill set. Well, these are not normal times. 

Think of finding a job as “selling yourself” and you need to move from what is known as a feature-benefit sale to a solution sale.  What that means is as someone in career transition, you can not approach meetings as an opportunity to tell people what you did at your last job.  Rather, you need to talk about what specific problems you can solve and identify which companies may have these problems.  You need to amplify that you are a successful problem solver. In today’s economy, companies do not necessarily have jobs, but they do have problems.  Rather than asking for jobs, ask about business problems, potential solutions, and upcoming projects or assignments.  This is how you can demonstrate your expertise and move your career transition forward in a tough environment.

Once you determine the problems you can solve, identify the target companies that may have those particular problems.  Then prepare your marketing and branding to sell yourself as someone that understands these issues and knows how to solve them.  You must have clear differentiation in a tightly conceived personal marketing package.  This includes a well crafted “elevator pitch”  resume/CV, on-line presence,  other supporting materials and very importantly your target company list. 

Lastly when networking, remember to give ask about specific companies you wish to get networked into.  I know from first hand experience, my ability to help folks in career transition increases exponentially when the individual I am  meeting with has a very targeted approach with highly specific requests.  The broad based; “Do you know of any… book keeping or quality assurance or computer programming or digital marketing or real estate lending …jobs.” does not work.  There are too many people taking the same approach.

So at your next meeting try this targeted problem solver approach and see what happens. 

 If the  meeting happens to be with  the CEO of an international environmental firm, be sure to be prepared, and do not use the four letter word.  He has a great Rolodex, would love to help you, but he needs you to help him.


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