A job search is often uncomfortable because we’re suddenly put into a sales role, and the product we’re selling is us. For those not naturally inclined to sales, particularly those of an introverted persuasion, this can be sheer torture.
I often refer to this analogy in my coaching. Here, I break it down in hopes that the clarity allows for a bit more comfort with the process. When we can view our search as a sales process, emotions can be tempered with a bit more perspective.
You as product: Are you ready to market yourself? Do you have a clear picture of your target market? Do you know what role you’re looking for? Are you focused on an industry? Just as most products have target audiences, so do you in your search. A shotgun approach—some might call it keeping their options open—will drain your efforts and lead you to trying to sell a product to anyone looking to buy anything. Get clear on your target market and direct your energy there. Need help getting there? A focus group, e.g., a coach, can provide insight into where you’d should be positioned.
Resume as marketing flyer: Your resume is a piece of collateral. You may partner with a product marketing manager (i.e., resume writer) to finesse the story, to capture the ROI details and to best translate the value proposition you bring. The sole point of the resume is to get you an interview. The marketing piece should be primed to land you a sales appointment, i.e., interview.
LinkedIn as website: You might have a website that features projects and samples of your work. For most of us, the default web presence showcasing our career is LinkedIn. Has yours been updated? Is it selling the right version of you? I recently attended a LinkedIn training and learned there are a myriad of new features to help us stand out, with audio and video content under the Creator Mode setting. It’s worth investing a bit of time to be sure your “website” is best clarifying your value.
Job search strategy as marketing plan: Hopefully by now you’re feeling ready for prime time. Maybe you have a new interview outfit ready to go. Your resume is updated and directed at the opportunities you’re seeking, and your LinkedIn is current. It’s go time! Devising a plan that details how you’re going to approach your search can do wonders for your mental health and yield better results. How much time are you going to dedicate to your search? Have you planned on X number of hours a day or a week? I advise clients to create a project plan in a spreadsheet. Organize the plan with columns that include dates of actions and follow-ups. Balance your energy across multiple pursuits: applying to open jobs, reaching out to network connections to pursue targeted companies, connecting with recruiters, and activating your existing network. Do the right people know you’re looking? If so, do they know what the right job for you looks like if they come across it?
Phone screen as sales call: You have your prospect on the line (or on your monitor). You’re trying to convert the conversation to a sales appointment with the decision maker. You’re likely speaking to a gatekeeper at this stage. Engage with confidence and showcase your competence. Wow the interviewer as best you can to land the critical sales appointment.
Interview as sales appointment: This is the big deal. You’re speaking with the decision maker and you’re selling YOU! Show up strong and have your pitch down, just not overly practiced or memorized. You don’t want to appear inauthentic. You’re here not only to sell yourself, but also to gauge whether this person and this company is someone you want to do business with, too. At this stage, confidence trumps competence. Know your stuff but, more than anything, be solid in presenting yourself. People do business with people they like.
Offer as negotiation: Now it’s time to haggle. They want a bargain, and you want a strong sale. Do you take the first offer? When we can distance ourselves emotionally and realize this is merely a business transaction, negotiating gets a touch easier.
Review the elements of your search through the sales lens. Are you doing everything to the best of your ability to close the deal? Where can you adjust your sales process to lead to different results? Masterfully implementing each one of these steps is what really leads to job search success.