Wednesday, July 4, 2007
Twenty Three Creative Ideas for Job Finding
In the order I wrote them down!
1. Always have a business card. Even when you are out of work having a card is the cheapest and easiest way to advertise yourself and have people contact you. If you are computer savvy, then make your own. Use the “clean edge” stock Avery makes, you can buy at Office Depot (or Staples etc.) Change your card as often as you want. Don’t think of a business card as a static thing, it’s more like a little billboard where you can personalize a message about yourself. And give them to everybody you see. Put them on bulletin boards. Carry cards everywhere you go and don't miss a chance to give it to somebody.
2. Go to every public event, meeting, lecture, gathering you can. And while there, talk to as many people as you can, when job seeking you need to get out there and expose yourself (not that way!) and talk, talk, talk to folks who might know somebody who can give you the job of your dreams. It's called Networking and it works.
3. Read the papers! Especially the local sections and local papers. You often get wind of new business developments that might give you some ideas. For example I read in a neighborhood paper that a health club was switching over to medical related rehab, new ownership etc. For someone looking for work in that area you can then be first in line talking to the new owners about jobs. Read and Think about how it relates to you. You’ll get some ideas if you do.
4. Reverse interviews. The typical model of job finding is to ask for work and hope to get an interview. Turn the tables and call companies you are interested in and ask to interview them. Call it an “informational interview” or “fact finding”. Be super courteous and charming and ask 20 questions about the company. Ask for the person in charge of the department you’d like to work for, or failing that, human resources, or public relations. You’ll be surprised how willing folks are to talk about things. You learn a lot, and, sometimes they get interested in you. When you do get a real interview you’ll be ready.
5. Propose a Job. You may have a great idea of how you can help a company. Write it down and send it to them, propose an idea of what you might do. Load it with ideas and enthusiasm. All they can do is say no right? And they just might say yes.
6. Pay to be Heard. Wacky idea but if you really feel like you have something special to offer a company and can’t get your message across, call them and tell them you’ll pay them $100 for ten minutes of their time. This works best when you have a specific person who can make a decision, and, when you Really do have something unique to offer. This technique works – you’ll get the meeting – but be totally prepared and don’t waste their time, get to the point with the bottom line benefits. What happens, often, is they don’t take the money, and you get more than ten minutes.
7. Know Exactly What You Want. Goofy idea but how do you get what you want if you don’t know what it is? Write down what the perfect situation would be and don’t spare on the detail. Revisit it, change it, improve it and keep thinking about it. If it evolves, fine, it just means you are clarifying your personal vision. If you know what you want you’ll be in a better position to find it.
8. Apply, Apply, Apply. When I was a youth I made a job application at a TV station and in my naiveté thought that they would put them in the order they got them – the job queue. Much to my surprise a friend applied a few weeks later and got an immediate call. We had similar credentials. It wasn’t a case of preferential treatment, it was simply he was at the top of the stack! If you are really set on a particular company or job, re-apply frequently. By doing so you are increasing your odds of a good accident happening. People admire persistence, it shows real desire, so don’t worry about being a pest. Be a pest.
9. Give Ideas Away. Nothing like giving somebody or an organization something for nothing. If you have a business idea of any kind for a company – give them a call or write them a letter and tell them about it. Say you are giving it with no strings attached. Use it as a way to start a dialog, and it’s okay to mention, yes, you are looking for a position. It just might get you identified as someone who can really help.
10. Stay Positive and Hopeful. It’s so obvious and so hard to do sometimes. But you have to. Believe in yourself -- because if you don’t nobody else will.
11. Make 10 Calls a Day. Get on the phone and start dialing for dollars. Who to call? Anybody who might be able to help you, call companies, friends, whoever might be able to hire you, or help you get hired. Not only do you feel like you are doing something, it creates an energy that extends beyond yourself. Yeah, it’s a bit touchy-feely, but do it anyway.
12. Show Up. This is the job finding equivalent of a cold call. Show up at the site you are interested in. Ask if there is anybody you can talk to. Say you want to introduce yourself, or borrowing from number 9 above, say you have an idea you want to give them (have an idea). If no, then do some information gathering. Pick up free brochures or company newsletters left in the lobby. See who’s going in and out. You never know when you might show up on the perfect day, or when you might learn something essential that will give you an edge.
13. Research Your Target. If you are after being hired by a publicly traded company, they are required to provide investor information to anybody who asks. Just call and ask for their investor relations department and ask for their annual report and 10-K. Annual reports can give you a great sense of what the company’s goals are – and you can tailor your message when the time comes to fit with Their Program.
14. Hand Write a Letter. Hand written notes are powerful simply because so few people do them anymore. Write to someone who can hire you and tell him or her why you’d be a good fit in authentic terms. Hand write thank you notes and inquiries – you will stand out.
15. Get Trained. It’s amazing how we often stand pat on what we know when you can boost your hire-ability quickly by taking some training. Get trained in something that makes sense for your goals. It never hurts to know how to use software packages better as an example. Learn Excel. Learn Photoshop. Learn some basic design or drafting skills. Become a notary public. Every skill you learn boosts your hire-ability, and you can pick up some new skills quickly and cheaply if you look around.
16. Read. If you haven’t read the essential books in your field you’re ill equipped to impress anybody in an interview, or add value to an organization. You should read current and popular business books to give yourself perspective on what’s going on and how managers think. A guy named ML Jenson wrote an article called “The Seven Essential Popular Business Books” it’s a great start, see: http://www.agora-business-center.com/1005bbooks.html. Oh yeah, Jack’s Notebook is a great book as well – it teaches a skill you can use the rest of your life, in any job you might have, creative problem solving. The author is one heck of a brilliant and good-looking man!
17. Rehearse. I’ve done role-playing with job seekers and it’s scary how poorly folks present themselves. Alternatively unprepared, too chatty, unconfident, or overconfident, nervous but not energetic, it’s all a result of not preparing to interview well. The solution to these problems is to script your answers and rehearse your delivery of them. Get your friends involved and role-play questions and answers. Have them throw surprises at you. Rehearsal will go a long way to prepare you to shine when your moment comes. So rehearse already!
18. Be Bold, Start a Business. Okay, so you’re out of work. Why not just go nuts and start a business? If you have a skill you can sell, then sell it. It may be impractical, but then again it might be the best thing you’ll ever do for yourself. Dip your toe in the water, if you can generate some sales and get a bit of momentum going, you may never look back.
19. Advertise. A person can buy cheap ads in the classified sections of any newspaper. Church bulletins are a tremendous value. Tell the world what you are looking for. Websites like www.craigslist.org are great sources for both listing jobs and services you have to offer. Exposure is one way to find the situation you’re looking for.
20. Sell Something. Sales are a tried and true path to success and financial independence. Many of us avoid it because of a fear of rejection. Get over it. Find a product or set of products and start selling. You may be surprised at your success. Companies like Amway and Herbalife have given many people a start. Real estate is another field where hard work and chutzpah can take you to the Promised Land. You can start on some selling jobs part time. So Sell Something!
21. Make Something. Here’s a crazy idea – develop a product and sell it. There are more stories of this kind of success than you can imagine. What have you got to lose? Do you have an idea for a product? Keep in mind you can sometimes sell it before it exists, sell it, and then deliver it. Michael Dell of Dell computer started building computers for his friends in college. He’d take orders, get a deposit, buy parts, and then deliver. Look where he is now…
22. Track Your Efforts. Charles Deming is the manufacturing process guru who reinvented methods. One thing he said is that which is not measured does not improve. So start measuring your efforts. Keep a scorecard in a notebook or on your computer. What you’ll notice over time is if you made six calls one day, you’ll want to best yourself, and you’ll do seven the next. It will also show you when you are being lazy, or when you should pat yourself on the back for your good efforts. And do declare some small victories now and then. Every rejection you get in one step closer to a YES.
23. Get Creative. Creativity is the secret weapon in your search for a new job. I’m not talking about artsy stuff, I’m talking about Ideas. Make a list of ideas about how you’ll get the job you want. Keep a notebook, work the list, and keep adding on. Keep trying to think of ideas to solve your job hunt challenge. If you want to know how to have more ideas all the time and how to “process” them, then read my book about creative process, Jack’s Notebook. I promise you this, if you read the first chapter you won’t put it down, and once you read it you’ll use the skills the novel teaches the rest of your life. Good luck!