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If You’re Not Moving Forward . . . . . You’re Falling Behind

Looking for a job is all about sales  –  You know that by now, if you have been looking through the articles, tips and tools offered via our AJC – Career Strategy website.  And you know that sales is a very action-oriented profession.  To make a sale, the smart sales person knows that every action they take, and every activity they engage in, should count toward moving them closer to achieving their goal of making the sale.  In other words, If You’re Not Moving Forward . . . . . You’re Falling Behind!

It is no different for the job seeker.  With every action you take, and every marketing tool you create, you are:  (1) Selling yourself  –  your skills, your experience, your attitude, your aptitudes, and your competence, and (2)  positioning these as of potential benefit to a prospective employer.  
In sales, every action you take either moves the action forward or backward.  If what you’re doing isn’t moving your “sale” forward, then you’re falling behind. 

Any communication should move your search forward
In the case of a job seeker, or an employee seeking to change or expand their role, this means that in any communication you have, its effect should be to move your search forward.   Any marketing material you send should provide the information needed to show you to be a qualified candidate, and suggest or request, as appropriate, the next step.  Every interaction with every prospective employer and network contact should demonstrate your competency in your profession, illustrate how you could benefit your next employer, and confirm the next step in the process.

Your marketing materials need to be strategically crafted to move your case and your cause forward.  They are a complex and comprehensive set of materials, as illustrated by the requisite list below:
(1)   Resume. . . 
(2)   “L”vator speech. . .
(3)   Business Cards. . .
(4)   Reference List. . .
(5)   Marketing Plan. . .
(6)   Portfolio. . .
(7)   Networking Plan
(8)   Linked-In Profile
(9)   Cover Letter Template
(10) Thank You Letter Template
(11) Follow-up strategy

Your interactions with prospective employers and network contacts are every bit as complex and comprehensive as your carefully crafted marketing materials.  They should always result in your leaving the interaction knowing the next step.
(1) Interview - Candidates all too frequently leave the interview without asking “What’s next?’ and then sit and wonder for what seems like an eternity to hear back from the employer.  Instead, be proactive and ask what you can expect.  Leave every interview clearly knowing what the employer intends as the next step.  Here are some clarifying questions to ask:
    - Will you have an additional interview? 
    - Will the employer be checking your references? 
    - Are there additional candidates to be interviewed following your interview? 
    - When might you expect to hear from the employer? 
    - Do you need to supply any additional information from you?

(2)  Networking Meetings - Leave any networking meeting with more information than you had before it started.  Too often, job seekers spend way too much of the meeting talking and not enough time listening and ferreting out information.  Remember the 40% - 60% guideline, and spend no more than 40% of the time talking.  Your goal is to learn from your contact and you can’t do that if you’re doing all the talking!

In a networking meeting, provide enough information to give your contact a clear picture of your competencies and the types of benefits you can provide to an employer.  Then ask:
    - What are some good companies they your network contact may be aware of that you should look into?
    - Who are some helpful people in their network that would be good for you to talk with?
         -  Would they refer you to their contacts? 
         -  When might they do that so that you can follow-up?
         -  Or, would they prefer you make the contact, using your network contact’s name?
    - What are some professional associations they have found useful?
    - Are there some executive search or employment agencies they have found helpful?
Using this line of questioning can also be surprisingly effective in helping your contact think of an existing opening for which they for which they can refer or recommend you!

Move the action forward 
Effective sales people don’t make the sale by just putting some information out into the marketplace and hoping for the best.  They move the action forward with the intent of making the sale.  You, as a job seeker, are no different.  Make all your actions and interactions count as a step in moving you closer to finding the job you seek.
For additional information on marketing yourself and your capabilities, please refer to the many articles found under the Articles tabs of the AJC–Career Strategy website.
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