By a PSGCNJ Member at Large
I want to share my landing story—whether it is a tip, or just a feeling of hope. However, concerned that people in my story might misinterpret my meaning, I would like to remain anonymous. I don’t want any tip I give seen as anything other than what it is: advice for people to help themselves stand out from their competition for the job they are seeking.
I understand that a job search is a very difficult time in one’s life. I was unemployed twice in the last three years, for a total of 27 out of 35 months (and seriously underemployed for five months following that).
First, let me say that my last two jobs came from networking. Before you make any assumptions on the strength of my network, I started one completely from scratch three years ago after relocating. I knew no one. However, I knew it was important socially and personally to build a network, and set out to do so.
I met person “A” at a networking event. A few months later, “A” introduced me to “B” and we started a dialogue. One year later, when a suitable position opened up, B invited me for an interview, and then recommended the company to hire me. But the other person I interviewed with decided to go in another direction.
Over a year later, B recommended me to “C,” when C asked B if he knew anyone for a position he had open. After one interview, C hired me. I started there five months ago. From the moment I met A until the moment I met C took two-and-a-half years.
That story would be enough, but it gets better…
I met “D” at several social events and became friends. D knew of a position that had just opened up and introduced me to “E,” the head of the hiring company. E interviewed me but decided to higher multiple lower positions to handle the one for which I was being considered.
A few months later, E invited me back for a much higher role, stating that I impressed him in the earlier interviews. During this next series of interviews, I met “F,” who was on the interviewing panel. I didn’t get offered this job, but made several connections. I met with F for breakfast and we discussed what we were both looking for.
Several months later, F introduced me to “G,” the head of another company (XYZ). It just so happened that XYZ was looking for someone with my qualifications. I went in for several interviews. Once again, the company decided to hire multiple lower positions rather than someone at my level.
I met C from story #1 and was hired. Fast forward five months later, and company XYZ (which I interviewed with seven months prior) had a new opening, at a higher position, and I was their number one candidate. I met with them for several hours and was made an offer the following day. This was a much more secure company, with room for growth, much higher pay and better benefits.
It took nearly a year and a half from the time D referred me to E, to when I was made an offer by XYZ. I had known D for about a year prior to that. If you think about it, this is only partly a story about networking. Yes, without it, I wouldn’t have gotten in the door for interviews with either company. However, there were key elements that had to occur for either offer to be made:
1) B would have never recommended me to C if I hadn’t impressed him in the interview and stayed in touch.
2) I would have never met F (who recommended me to G), if I hadn’t impressed E enough to be brought back in for a different opportunity.
3) I would not have been considered for the new role with company XYZ if I hadn’t impressed them in the interview for the previous opportunity and hadn’t stayed in touch when I didn’t get it.
Sounds complicated? It isn’t. Here are some tips that were pivotal in both stories:
1. Get out there
Whether it is at formal networking events or social events, meet people. For formal events, check out http://www.landingexpert.com/ec/210/NetworkingEvents.pdf. For social events, see what is in your local area through places of worship, recreational centers, and communities. I joined several groups on Meetup.com. That’s how I met “D” and became friends (and really built my social network).
2. Be friendly
Let your personality shine through. None of these people would have referred me if they didn’t like me. Find common interests and make friends. Offer to help other people. Show a sincere interest in them. Above all, be yourself and relax. The worst thing that can happen is that you make a new friend!
3. Leave an impression
The facts are that you aren’t going to get offers every time you interview. There are so many reasons why you may not get the offer, many of which are out of your control. But they will keep you in mind, they will recommend you (notice I didn’t say “refer”), they will consider you for other opportunities if you impress them.
How do you make an impression? I created T-Letters. I explained why my experience and skills matched their job description. I wrote lengthy follow-up letters sent via snail mail and followed up with email. Sometimes I offered my thoughts on a 90 day action plan. I left an impression because I did things that my competition did not.
4. Follow up after you have been turned down
My current position made it very clear that my following up made a big difference. When a new opportunity arose, I was top on their list of people to call. How did I follow up? Maybe every couple of months I sent an email checking in, congratulating them on something I saw in the news or on their website. I kept my name at the top by showing genuine interest. I was sincere, not “salesy.”
While there is a lot in the details, for me, it is all about getting out there, being friendly, impressing them during the interview and following up. How you do all these things is up to you.
Remember, I started from scratch knowing no one within 100 miles who would help me. If I can do it, you can. Above all, the support of new local friends, long-distant friends and family, and a lot of faith in God kept me positive during all this. I chose to surround myself with positive people and avoided those who dwelled in negativity. I took care of myself physically, emotionally and spiritually. I challenged myself intellectually. I occasionally even treated myself.
I hope my landing stories helped you. Keep the faith. The job you deserve will come to you, as long as you keep working at it.
By a PSGCNJ Member at Large