Your Starting Point: The Clear Blueprint
The most important part of your job search is understanding what your long-term career goals and aspirations are, the skill set you require to get there, the industries you would like to work in, the culture and environment that would suit your personality type, the brands you would like to represent and therefore the companies in which you would like to work for. We like to call this process the Clear Blueprint – our most successful tried and tested method.
Creating the A, B, C List
Once you have completed your Clear Blueprint, start breaking down companies that are of appeal to you into three categories:
A - Companies that have always been on your radar or are of the most interest to you.
B - These are companies that you would like to explore further. You may have a couple of question marks, but you would still be interested in meeting with them.
C - This would be your worst-case scenario. This is the “I just need a job!!” section.
Once you have completed this list, it is time to network in a way that will actually help you get a job. Work your way through your list of companies with the aim of meeting a representative from the business. Your first port of call should be reaching out to any individuals in the organisation you may know, regardless of what division they are in. Try and get them to secure you a meeting or at least an introduction to the head of the division, or line manager, that you would be working for.
Once you have exhausted your list of A’s, move on to the B’s and so on. Adopting this strategic approach will enable you to be the master of your own destiny.
How to Network in a Way That Will Actually Help You Get a Job
When approaching your contact from the company you’re interested in, it is important to remember that you are not approaching a company, but an individual from the company who will more than likely be open to someone reaching out to them, should your approach be of relevance to them. If you have no contacts in the company at all, you will need to conduct some research on LinkedIn.
Sourcing a contact and setting up a meeting
LinkedIn is a best online tool for finding and reaching out to professional individuals, and the easiest starting point when identifying the most appropriate person to contact. Find the company page on LinkedIn and click on “View Employees”. This will show you a list of the all the individuals who work in the company and what their roles are. Say you are looking for a Marketing role? LinkedIn will show you who the Marketing Director is, and you can message them directly through LinkedIn.
But before you message the person, do a bit of research on them first. Google their name, look them up in trade press publication and see what they have done within their industry. Have they spoken at an event lately?Do you have a mutual friend or contact in common that could introduce you?
After you have gathered information on the contact, message them about them, not you. If you make your approach about them, they will listen.
If you are seeking to move in to a different category or industry, try finding individuals in the company you are targeting who have made similar moves and reach out to them asking for their advice and whether they would be able to meet for a coffee as you would love the opportunity to pick their brains. Once you have an internal advocate, you will be surprised how much they will be to help you, so long as you made a strong enough impression on them when you met.
Ensure you are grateful for their time and be as flexible as possible to meet up informally for a coffee.
If you are unable to find the right individual, do not be shy about calling the company and asking who is in that role and asking for their contact details. If you are still unable to locate them, go for someone else within the team who may be able to assist, even if they would be a peer or even better, the individual who is in the role you are hoping to secure! It is unlikely they will be in the only one, however some contact is better than none and the worst-case scenario is still better than nothing at all.
How to Ace the Meeting with Your Contact
Once you have finally secured your meeting with the contact,it is crucial that you are well prepared for the meeting with questions that are of most relevance to you, rather than those that are designed to just make you look smarter.
Talk about your career goals and ambitions and be honest about where your gaps lie and the areas in which you need development. Display knowledge of your desired role, the company and culture that you are seeking to join and use the meeting to determine if there is alignment there.
Ensure they are doing a of the talking as you work your way through the questions, with your sole objective being to identify whether this is in fact a company where you can see yourself working, delivering on your personal goals and objectives and in an environment and with values that resonate to your own.
Be open, genuine, and honest with any questions that are asked of you. If the company is in an industry or area you haven’t worked in before, do not hide that fact, talk with confidence around areas that you see as parallels and ask where they believe would be challenging for you to make the move. Be prepared for confronting feedback, take it on board and ask for their advice around what they would do should they be in your position. See them as the expert and listen to their recommendations, whether you agree with them or not it doesn’t matter, it is their opinion and you have asked for it so respect it and take it on board and take from it what you will. Always ask if there is someone else they would recommend you meeting, whether that be from their company or their network, it is very rare they will say no and will lead to doubling the number of meetings you will have, especially if it has come from a referral rather than a direct approach.
Before the meeting has come to an end, I can assure you that your questioning and how you communicated and conducted yourself has told them more about you than any questions they could have asked. You have demonstrated your ability to be proactive, driven, confident, self-aware and above all, someone that is genuinely serious about their career, all traits that every employer looks for.
Always ensure to follow up from any meeting with a thank you email or text. Keep the lines of communication open and ensure you set a calendar reminder to drop them a line every 3-6 months.
If you have been fortunate enough to secure several meetings and coffee catch ups, combined with the traditional approach of online job boards and speaking to recruiters, you are placing yourself in the best position for finding not only a new role, but the right role.
Working your way through this direct approach will provide you with various learnings that should uncover important findings and help crystallise what it is you are looking for and where you are headed in your career, as well as identifying what is important to you, enabling you to speak with confidence when discussing your career aspirations and choices.
Just remember, it is more important for you to find the right company and role, rather than the company to find the right individual.
Eric and the Clear Search Team