Career Advice

Job Hunter? Take The Employer’s-Eye View

A fellow called me on the phone and said, “I notice you do a lot of teleseminars. Would it be useful for you to have those teleseminars transcribed into E-books? Would you be interested in a quote on teleseminar transcription services?” I thought for a millisecond and said “Yes, that would be great.” The fellow’s name is Prakash. He does all my teleseminar transcription now.

He didn’t call me and say “Let me tell you about myself. I have sixteen years of experience in yada, yada and some other thing.”

Prakash got my attention right away because he talked about what he already knew about me, and he made a suggestion about something I could try that could be useful to my clients.
He got a new client that day (me), and I’ve referred him to a dozen people since then.

Here is the best part: Prakash didn’t take any emotional risk when he made that call. If I’d said, “That’s okay, I’m all set,” he would have said “Have a nice day” and called the next person on his list. He wasn’t calling in hopes that I’d find him and his background acceptable. He was calling to see if I had the particular pain that he solves – that is, teleseminars dissolving into the ether because no one bothered to preserve the content.

We are trained (badly!) to talk about ourselves in our job search overtures to employers. We are taught to say that we’ve done this and that and worked in X, Y and Z industries. We are schooled in telling employers what we think of our own skills: “I’m strategic and savvy and a good communicator.” This old-school job search approach is dangerous garbage, because it keeps us from focusing on the one thing an employer cares about: namely, him- or herself, and his or her own problems.

Prakash called me to talk about my needs, not his gifts, talents and virtues.

Cold-calling employers gets a lot easier when we call with the message, “I had the idea that your new, national distribution deal might be putting your supply chain people under the gun.” The answer is going to be ‘Yes’ or ‘No’. Cold-calling is excruciating when the message is “I was wondering whether you could use anyone with my background, namely this, that and the other thing?….” This old-fashioned, unfortunate approach puts the hiring manager (already stressed and in pain) in the position of having to decide whether and how you could help him. He doesn’t want to work that hard, and who can blame him? We need to do the research that will help us understand the employer’s pain points, before picking up the phone.

A client/friend of mine was interested in working for natural food products manufacturers. She called a few of the natural food CEOs on the phone, and to each one she said “It’s pretty exciting that your products are going to be sold in Whole Foods. Have you ever sold your products through a national retailer before?” Of course, every CEO of a fledgling food products company said “No.” Next, the intrepid job seeker asked “Do you feel like your marketing plan is where it should be, given the ways that the Whole Foods deal will change your business?” Every CEO said, “No.” Last, the savvy marketer (I get to call her that – she wouldn’t) asked “Is that something you’d have a few minutes to talk about?”

Notice that she never said “My name is Alice Cook and I have experience in snap, crackle and pop.” It’s not about her – it’s about the employer, and the employer’s needs. If the pain is great, the money will be squeezed out of the budget somewhere to make that pain go away. Alice isn’t applying for jobs via Black Holes of Death and hoping for the best. She’s spotting pain in her environment and going out to relieve it. Much more satisfying, wouldn’t you say?