Why aren’t we experts in us?
My advice is very simple, and comes from a sales or marketing approach to getting the next gig: Sell Yourself!
The problem is that rarely are the people looking for work in the sales and/or marketing verticals themselves; And if they are, they are inexperienced at selling a person, their capabilities/abilities, etc. In fact, even if they are in the business of selling talent, they are completely unable to sell themselves. The carpenter’s house leaks, the shoemaker’s kids have no shoes, the auto mechanic’s car is pushed to work, etc.
Because I actually sell for a living, I understand the process of selling yourself. Because I am technical by nature, I am always analyzing things in my environment, trying to find ways to fix them (even the stuff that isn’t broken!). I’ve grown to be successful by applying engineering principles to human behavior when it applies to selling yourself.
This isn’t hard to understand when you consider that a Sales Engineer is in the confidence game, helping give credibility and credence to software and services sold my Sales Reps that can easily be in the millions of dollars. For the sake of conserving your time (and setting this concept up for a future in-depth article), I’ll try to summarize at an extremely high level the concepts:
Chronologically, there are a few basic actions that, if not required, are certainly suggested in order to give yourself as much of a chance for placement as possible.
My philosophy is simple:
– If you were never meant to have the job, nothing you do will change that outcome. Cut your losses and move on.
– If, however, there is even a slim chance for you to gain the appointment (or settle on compensation terms favorably, successfully negotiate base salary, home expenses, benefits, etc.), then every single thing you do, regardless of how seemingly insignificant, helps.
Before the interview (or interviews, is a gauntlet), obtain all names, titles and email addresses of those you will interview with. These are hard to get afterward, and inappropriate for during the interviews themselves. I seldom even get business cards during interviews.
During the interview take mental or written notes regarding the non-work related things discussed with each interviewer. This will help later when building a bond on one of the three fundamental channels (Person, Concept and Company… Another article!). To help, be sure to mix non-work-related discussion, as your follow up email will depend on it.
Afterward, there should be at least two emails, each with their own specific format and tone:
1. To the hiring manager, cc’ing the HR contact.
2. To the other interviewers as a group.
3. [optional] To specific interviewers that a follow-up to non-work discussions would be appropriate. Think of these as personal “Thank You”s.
This should immediately be followed up with invites to a single professional social networking site/system that you are using (aggressively), such as LinkedIn.
Immediately put reminders on your calendar to start following up with the hiring manager, cc’ing the HR rep (as in the above). Each email is to have the same format as the initial ones (to reinforce the points you want to highlight, as well as remind the reader), with the addition of a paragraph that sells you. Remember, you are more than likely not the only candidate being considered. For example, you also may be asking for more base than allotted, so you’ll have to justify this.
In the end, all selling is simply justification.
Each reminder email should only be to the hiring manager and cc’ing the HR contact. The emails should be no more frequent that 5 business days apart (Don’t be a pain! These folks have jobs!). Use any news since the last email, such as the hiring manager joining your professional network, as a manufactured reason to write, if you are having trouble making your emails seem sincere. Also keep up with news items regarding the company (you should have had these bookmarked as part of your pre-interview process (Another article!)
Emails should also be used to backup phone calls, but I strongly suggest only calling the HR rep voice. They can be more easily coaxed into giving information on your progress, the req’s status, and how your competition is doing. If you discover a candidate’s failure (before or after your interviews), be sure to get from the HR rep why. Use this information to highlight your appropriateness for the req creatively.
If you succeed, be sure to thank each and every person involved in a separate, personalized email. Refer to above for ideas for content.
If you fail, your emails are even more important. Only email the hiring manager, cc’ing the HR rep as before, and stress your continuing interest in the position. Should their fist choice not work out, or fail to negotiate terms successfully, you want to be the first to get the call.
Finally, be sure to email the HR rep, and potentially the original hiring manager, approximately one month after being notified that you were not chosen. Stress again your regret at not being the first choice (Remember, you didn’t fail to meet qualifications! Being chosen for an interview means you are qualified), and if true, your continued openness to joining the team. They may expand, drop the chosen candidate, or even have a place for you that you were unaware was available.
The effective, professional use of email in business communication is in itself a sign of desirable qualities.