By Yolanda M. Owens
Dear How to Score a Date with Your Potential Employer,
I've been looking for a job for almost 6 months and haven't landed anything yet. I've posted almost 400 resumes to various job boards and still nothing. Help! --R.A., Washington, DC
First let me say that I admire your tenacity and congratulate you on sticking with it! It's easy to get discouraged when you don't get attention from employers right away. But don't take your employer "dating" hat out of the ring just yet! You see, finding a job is an investment; and with any investment, you need to diversify. You can't "date" an employer by simply posting your profile on job boards or blind contacting employers through social media. It takes more than 140 characters and some emoticons to start a relationship. So here are a few tips to amp up your job search:
Patience is a virtue. The reality is job seeking doesn’t happen overnight. Your ego and patience will have its fair share of blisters from pounding the pavement and you’re going to make a few trips around the employment search block before landing a position. Employers will take their time in getting back to you, making decisions on where they want the relationship to go…You may find yourself involved with an all talk, no action employer or employers you just don’t have
chemistry with. In the midst of it all, build your professional network and learn from your mistakes and successes throughout the process. The right opportunity will come along, and your patience will be virtuously rewarded.
Hang with people who are already in a relationship. Your single friends (aka those also swimming in the job market pool with you) are your competition. So find happier ponds to swim in by keeping in contact with friends who have jobs at companies you’d consider working for. They’re in a better position to provide you information on current openings, names of hiring managers, and can refer you for positions through employee referral programs. Visit sites like http://www.bettergrind.com that help you find a job where friends work.
Make yourself uncomfortable. Stop relying solely on job boards to look for positions. In order to find where the jobs are, you need to give a little face time. Get out and mingle. Go outside your comfort zone of people, places and things you typically do and take plenty of business cards with you. Contact individuals from your alumni association, be a plus-one at a company sponsored event, attend a professional networking happy hour...Unexpected things come from unexpected places so expect the unexpected and see what opportunities follow when you dare to stray from the path. You’ll have more possibilities when you let yourself go outside the box.
Have a "pre-date" through an informational interview. Instead of blindly contacting someone to ask them for a job, stroke their ego and build a rapport before asking them for an official "date". Send an email or message via LinkedIn (if you don't have a LinkedIn account I STRONGLY suggest you get one!) telling the individual that you're interested in their field, company, project, etc. and would love to schedule an informational interview to discuss their involvement. Never send your resume with your initial request. Give the individual an opportunity to respond first so your first impression isn't tainted by looking presumptuous or
opportunistic. If you feel the need to include some professional info about yourself, be subtle and add a link to your LinkedIn profile to your email signature. Once you've established a relationship, then you can talk about your interest in working for the company and how that individual can help you make it happen.
Mind your manners. No matter the outcome of any job search situation, always remember to follow up with a thank you. Common courtesy goes a long way. So while you may not have landed the opportunity you applied for, taking the time to say "thank you" at the end of any job search contact could keep you top-of-mind for the next opportunity that crosses that person's desk.