(Photo: Wanda G)
So – you’re on the hunt for a new job. Maybe you’re starting a new career, maybe you’re just getting your career started. Maybe you’re new to the job search, maybe you’ve been at it for a while. Either way, you need to be an informed searcher. First – where do you want to work?
You’ll likely send out dozens and dozens of applications, but you should have 3-5 core companies you’re targeting. Once you’ve identified your target list, get reading! You should be on top of any relevant corporate news (expansion, acquisitions, etc.), new product launches, and what’s going on with their competition. Are they gaining or losing market share? Are they healthy? Do they have a good reputation for being a great place to work, or as an up-and-comer? Do you follow them on Twitter or Facebook? What about the company CEO? Become as knowledgeable as you can, in as many areas as you can.
Yesterday I commented on a great post on JibberJobber.com/blog. The gist of the post was that job seekers should have specific companies in mind when applying for jobs, and be ready to drop the names of said companies in conversation. It also said to “keep track of any important and relevant news with the target companies.” I agreed:
“Yes! Not only will being informed prepare you to speak intelligently about the place you want to work, but people love to hear/talk about themselves (and, often, their company). If you’re up-to-date on the latest of XYZ, Corp., it’s flattering to someone working there. It’s an affirmation that they work at a place worth knowing (perhaps, by extension, an affirmation that what they do matters). What a positive way to start a conversation!”
Let’s look at two scenarios.
1) You’re at a party talking with a group of friends. After a while you introduce yourself to John and you guys begin chatting. Eventually you learn that he works at XYZ, Corp. – where you desperately want to work. You tell him you’ve been looking for jobs and are interested in his company. He asks what department, you say you’re not sure – you just want to work there any way you can. He asks if you heard about the big announcement from last week. Unfortunately you hadn’t, so he tells you about a product launch that just occurred. You can speak generally about the company and your experience buying their products, but after that the conversation runs out of gas. Nice to meet you, nice to meet you – end of story.
2) You’re at a party talking with a group of friends. You’ve been asking people in your network about working at XYZ, Corp. lately, and someone remembers that John works there. He introduces you to John and says you’ve been looking for work, especially at XYZ, Corp. John’s happy to hear that, and you mention that you read that they just had a huge release of Widget Something-or-Other. Now he’s really in a good mood (you’re talking about his livelihood, after all). He then asks what department or role you’re pursuing. You tell him an analyst or a buyer, and ask if he knows anyone in either roles. Actually, yeah, he has a friend in recruiting and knows a buyer. Come to think of it, he also just heard they’re hiring buyers, so he’ll put you in touch with both people. You exchange info, and both walk away feeling pretty good.
Biggest points to take away from these two scenarios:
- In scenario 2, you are introduced to John as someone who wants to work where he works. This is an implicit compliment to John and his choice of employer (you want to work where he does). It’s also better than the “cold” intro you make in scenario 1.
- In scenario 2 you mention specific roles, which trigger the recollection of A) key contacts he can connect you with, and B) leads on a job opening. These are both huge, and the catalyst was knowing about the company and where you will fit.
- In scenario 2, John is genuinely excited throughout the conversation. You began by complimenting him, proceeded to highlight the strengths of his employer, and led him to put you in touch with the right people. John feels empowered the whole way, not because you’re kissing his ass (which is very transparent), but because you’ve talked about things that make him feel good. If he is excited, he’s much more likely to work on your behalf.
- Scenario 2 shows you how many opportunities were missed in Scenario 1 – simply for lack of easily attained knowledge.
Do your homework. Seriously. If “being a stalker” doesn’t sit well with you, fine. Go CSI
on them. Dig and dig, uncover details below the surface. Each piece of information will help you down the road, either in securing an interview, or crushing one.
Do you have an example of when research and networking paid off? Let’s hear it! Something else to add? Go.