SFGirl Job Hunt Update

SFGirl writes in again with news and more questions:

Hi Working Girl,

I’ve set up two informational meetings for the rest of this month with possibility of another one.  As I become more familiar with these meetings, I had some more questions.

In reading your post, how do I approach offering my ideas and suggestions to a particular company during a conversation?  Sometimes my conversation flow seems a bit abrupt or too sudden.  How would you lead into your ideas?

I know in the past when I set up informational interviews, people would usually say they’d keep my resume on file and let me know if anything comes up.  And I send handwritten notes to thank them for their time.  But the work doesn’t stop there, does it?  How often and when do you send updates?  I try not to send emails just to say “hi” but with something more substantial such as an interesting article.  If I don’t get a response with occasional relevant updates, does it mean they’re just not interested or maybe they’re just busy? 

Dear SFGirl, 

Congratulations on setting up informational interviews!  That’s a fantastic first step. 

You’ll find, as you pursue your search, that some meetings are dead ends and that others lead you down unexpected paths.  The job hunt is a meandering quest, full of false starts and unanticipated developments.  Try to look at it as an adventure.

When people say they’ll keep your resume “on file,” it usually means they plan to never look at it again.  Nothing personal, it’s just the way things are.  So you need to keep your name and face in front of them somehow.  Sending pertinent articles is a good idea.  Ditto for thank you notes; they are vital. 

In addition, consider other creative ways to build a relationship with potential bosses/colleagues (without stalking!).  Attend professional association meetings they also attend.  Maybe they volunteer for a charity that you can volunteer for, too?  You’re in journalism, right?  Next time you publish an article (another project for you), be sure to send them a copy. 

A conversational flow that is too “abrupt” or “sudden” just means you need more practice talking with strangers!  The key to being a fabulous conversationalist is to concentrate more on what the other person wants or needs than on what you want or need.  Make it about them.

If the talk never seems to naturally give you a lead-in to mentioning your ideas, you ARE allowed to change the subject!  Be friendly.  Be casual.  Start out, “You know, I have a few ideas about the new program you’re putting together.”  And then list your ideas.  Because it’s about them, they will hang on your every word.

Always, when you are talking with people whom you want to like you, let them talk more than you talk.  Make it at least 60/40 (60 them, 40 you), or even 70/30.  People love to talk.  And even more, they love to be listened to, so really listen.

Cast a wide net.  Set up lots of informational interviews, explore lots of different avenues.  This will improve your chances and keep you from concentrating too much on any one opportunity.  There are many fish in the employment sea, even during a slow economy.  Good luck and keep in touch! 

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  • Erika says:

    When I worked as a recruiter we really did keep people’s resumes (if they were good) on file and refer to them whenever a position opened up.

    The main reason for not contacting them, however, was that we were never sure if they were still looking for a job. That being said, keeping in touch is a great way to remind hiring personnel that you are still looking and interested.

    Also, if you want a good reason to contact companies, notifying them about new skills is a great excuse. A pretty solid way to make yourself attractive (as an employee) to an employer is if you are constantly adding to your skill set. Say they were looking for someone with strong HTML experience and yours was only so-so at the last interview.

    After the interview you could take a class or buy a book and then let them know that not only are you still looking, you’re an even better candidate! Believe me, recruiters want nothing more than to fill their open positions and if you make it easy for them they will be practically foaming at the mouth to get you in for an interview!