It increasingly frustrates me to observe the growing number of job seekers who want or need a new job, but they have a strange and ill-conceived notion they don’t have to actually do anything to accomplish it. Like magic, doors will swing wide and all you have to do is conduct a few keystrokes and send your digital resume; the rest just sort of happens; right, isn’t that what we’ve been led to believe? Pretty silly sounding isn’t it, but that is the assumption by which most of us operate.
More than ever people reach out to me for advice and I am most happy to provide assistance, after all, that’s why I write this blog. But more and more, people are not willing to do anything that requires real effort. Often my suggestions are dismissed as unreasonable, which is odd because they work. I don’t know if people are more reticent because they are scared or lack confidence in themselves (see my last blog post), but I suspect their soft skills have degraded to the point from which it takes very little to push them out of their insulated, albeit shrinking, comfort zone.
Some of the most basic advice I share is that companies want people who want to work for them and they take note of those who are a bit more innovative and proactive. Which means you should express your interest. Another suggestion for how to set yourself apart is, for example: if you see a company listed with the job description and there is a contact name, instead of doing what everyone else does, be a bit different. At the same time you submit your resume also look up the contact person on LinkedIn. Click on Connect, then where it says How do you know (name)? - click on Friend. Then you can compose a short message not exceeding 300 characters and spaces. It is simple but yet proactive, try this:
Dear Mr. /Ms. XXXX,
I applied for the position of (position name). Please add me to your contacts and I look forward to meeting you.
You will note it is mildly assumptive in tone, which denotes confidence. It also doubles your chances of being noticed as you are doing a little more than everyone else. Even this very small extra gesture may be all it takes. And what is the worst that can happen -- they might not call? They’re not calling you now, while your resume languishes among the tens or hundreds of others in a virtual heap.
I recently pressed someone to do this and they responded that they were reluctant, telling me what many people say, “I don’t want them to think I am begging for a job; I’m not going to beg.” And here is the problem I see: people mistakenly think that to show interest, even a small measure more than the non-activity of emailing a resume, is somehow lowering themselves – amazing!
Well, as I was saying, I pressed someone, who complained to me they were not getting any responses to their email entreaties, to do just what I suggested above. They did so, grudgingly. And while I would never say this, or any other method works every time, guess what happened? Within 24 hours they received a call from the company to which they applied. That was two weeks ago; she starts her new job next week.
Sometimes you need not make grand gestures to have an intended effect; start out small but do something more and challenge yourself to step out of your comfort zone – you might be surprised by what happens. With each passing day, while you procrastinate and avoid doing what you know you should do, don’t think about it too much and just do it – not next week or next month, but do something now. And if you are looking for some ideas, visit my blog archives.