In my presentations to jobseeker groups, one of the observations I make is that being in a job search is precisely like hunting for Miss or Mr. Right. Here’s why: anyone “on the market” for the first time in decades, whether it’s the job market or the dating scene, feels like they’ve been teleported to a new planet: how you find leads, how you communicate, the niceties you expect – someone changed the rules and never even left you a note on the fridge. You feel rusty and confused, left behind, and the internet has changed . . . everything, hasn’t it? Steps that used to be totally driven by human interaction, are now computerized, anonymous, and one is frequently rejected before even having the chance to make in-person appearance.
This idea of packaging one’s self, boosting one’s style, and thinking constantly about “strategic product placement” is perhaps alien to anyone who’s been married for a few decades. But for those who are back in the hunt, or have been a singleton for longer than you’d like, you know how looking for a great match is a nonstop effort: and it’s no darn different for job seekers. Here are hints to help improve your Job Dating Game:
Similarity 1: The Process Flow Chart. Not convinced? Here’s the process breakdown of getting to the altar, which is exactly the same sequence to land a new job. You and hundreds of other candidates are hoping to:
•Grab the attention of a top prospect
•Make a great first impression
•Earn the chance to meet again
•Sell yourself as a match
•Pass a tough background check
•Eliminate the competition
•Win the one available offer,
•Negotiate towards an acceptable middle point, and
Now that I’ve made you laugh, jobseekers who were comfortable in a 25-30 year career and now are hurled into a sudden job hunt need a little nudge on how to think like a Match.com dater, who is trying to lure and land a special someone – before someone else gets to them first.
Similarity 2: How You find Leads. Thirty years ago, jobs landed in our lap – and so did opportunities to date. It was effortless to find prospects at high school or college, your neighborhood, or temple or church. Every event you attended provided ample opportunities to meet friends of friends, and relatives of relatives, all of whom had plenty of job (and date) leads.
Where do you find posted jobs (and dating prospects) today? They’re online. Eighty percent of your job leads are found on job boards, employer websites, trade association career postings, and LinkedIn Groups (with the other 20% through personal contact). In order to generate leads, you must constantly check websites and modify your search parameters to generate a promising pipeline into your inbox – no different than managing those E-Harmony, Match and JDate accounts, either!
Similarity 3: Strategic Product Placement. Singles who are good at generating new dates also know they have to get out of the house. Putting a product directly under the nose of its intended target gets you the biggest payback of time and effort, whether it’s landing a date or hearing about a hot new finance job opening that is under the radar screen.
Here’s how this works in dating: getting out of your regular trajectory is crucial to crossing the path of new potential dates. Guys show up at yoga class, art openings, wine bars, cooking classes and walk their dog in the park, because who is likely to be there? WOMEN THEY DON’T KNOW. Gals show up at sports bars, Browns games, golf tournaments, the Auto Show and beer tastings because a preponderance of attendees are who? HAPPY MEN THEY’VE NEVER MET.
The job seeker who travels the same path, week after week, without ever showing up in a room or a group they haven’t been in before, is missing the boat on strategic product placement. You, the jobseeker are the product, and you need to be at events where you are a new face, meeting new folks who can be an advocate for your search.
The best tool at your fingertips is the Crainscleveland.com event calendar, with dozens of luncheon speakers, trade association offerings, conferences, industry forums, and breakfast seminars that you should be targeting. Pick one new event a month that is already of interest, grab a friend (or go solo, I always do), and show up. Ask lots of questions of your tablemates, show a genuine interest, and you have earned the opportunity to pass along your business card, and mention you’re in a job search – can they keep their ears open for you?
Similarity 4: Getting Checked Out. If someone has heard about you and is intrigued, as a job candidate or possible blind date, what’s the first thing they do? Run, not walk, to the computer to plug your name into Google, search you out on LinkedIn and Facebook, and maybe even see if you make regular appearances in the Cuyahoga County Civil and Criminal Docket, available 24-7 at www.onecuyahoga.com (ladies, you’re welcome – truly a single gal’s best friend). This digital detective work wasn’t part of the dating or employment landscape years ago, and is a real gamechanger that lets employers/dates be even pickier before asking to meet.
Similarity 5: Communication Tools. Remember the telephone? It’s become practically a historic artifact in the world of dating, and it’s not used so much in a job search, either. E-mail is the primary means of initiating a conversation, or scheduling a time to use that telephone-thingy. And unfortunately, an e-mail is most often how one learns they didn’t make it through to the next round of interviews – or dates.
Similarity 6: Boosting Your Style. Job seekers who haven’t had to primp, or dress to impress, for 30 years because they’ve been married for decades, are sometimes a few steps behind when it comes to understanding one rule of job searching/dating: someone else is willing to do whatever it takes to look better, sharper and more stylish to land that opportunity! An attitude of “take it or leave it,” or “I can’t be bothered with that, my personality is my best asset,” or “I’m not willing to lift a finger to look my best” is pretty much guaranteed to reduce the number of call-back interviews you land. Remember, losing a job is out of your control, but you control 100% of your professional style! Your competition is already bringing their A-Game to each and every interview and networking opportunity. Don’t let your personal comfort zone, and appearance blinders, hold you back from a more successful job search. See my blog, Do You Need to Boost Your Professional Presence?
Dating is exhausting – no doubt about it. And so is job hunting. Putting forth the effort to be in new rooms with new people, keeping yourself looking your best when you walk out the door, and tirelessly searching online for leads is a full-time chore. Just keep that “dating game” swing thought in the back of your mind during your own job search, and you’ll benefit from the success secrets of busy daters. Here’s wishing you a “happily ever after” and a bright new career, very soon!
Kelly Blazek shares job search and career success tips in her blog, http://kellyblazek.wordpress.com and is a frequent speaker at jobseeker groups on creating more powerful resumes and LinkedIn profiles. A Six Sigma Green Belt, she is available for one-on-one resume reviews and is also a manufacturing communications consultant. Contact her at email@example.com