When you’re seeking work, it’s always a frustrating challenge. You feel like it shouldn’t take so long. You know you’re missing something.
You don’t know what is in vogue or not with the application process. There are many ways to feel beat down and thrashed along the way. Add to this the realization that there are all these social networks that should make it easier and not harder to find work, and it’s enough to make you want to punch penguins.
In our book, The Impact Equation, Julien Smith and I say that what’s needed to be seen is a strong idea moved across a well-built platform and into the hands of relationships you’ve built and maintained. Miss any part of that and the equation hasn’t been satisfied. Here’s how it would apply to finding work.
Looking for Work
In the previous world of work-finding, there were really only a few ways to acquire a new role:
- Make your own work (entrepreneur).
- Find a job via knowing someone.
- Find a job via a drafting/hiring mechanism like job fairs.
- Find a job via the newspaper classified ads or a sign in a window.
In recent years, you can add online sites like Monster.com and social networks like LinkedIn to the list of ways people believe they’ll find work. To list all the various newcomers in both categories isn’t worth it. We know there are many other sites that now list jobs. But as you’ve found out, “sites that list jobs” is quite different from “finding work.”
The approach we talk about in the Impact Equation is that you have to have a strong idea (in this case, that will relate to the role you intend to find), spread it across a platform of your assemblage (we’ll get there) and have built some community enough that people care to help the idea succeed (more in a bit, but this is the hardest part). You’ll notice that this isn’t “do these three things and lickity split, you have a job.” But if you never start, you will never succeed in this method, so let’s proceed.
A Strong Idea
I know a guy who is a technical wizard. He’s served many companies in different capacities for years. He’s having trouble finding work (and has been for some time). The mindset of someone seeking work is that they should explain their capabilities and explain their history and their knowledge.
Guess what your potential boss wants: solutions. Your boss wants someone capable, motivated, eager, and proven. How will you show this to that potential boss? THAT is the idea you must form.
If I were the technical wizard guy, I’d have a space on my website (we’ll cover that in platform) that explained that my experience gave me historical perspective to avoid common failings in newer (younger) employees. I’d follow closely with what efforts I was making to maintain an awareness of the bleeding edge. And I’d position myself as the trusted advisor on staff that the company needs to navigate the every-shifting world of tech. (Essentially, I’d play my best cards.)
Quick recap: you need a really great framing of an idea told from the perspective of your potential employer’s comfort and future victories, should he or she add you to the team.
Assemble a Platform of Value
If you’re looking for work and you haven’t built a strong home base to point people back towards, you’re missing a powerful tool. Your home base in this case is a simple website and possibly a blog (I’d use WordPress and spend a few bucks on a premium design, but then, that’s me), so that you can craft a page or pages to help explain yourself to prospective buyers.
At this home base, for instance, I might have a main page that tells people a bit about me, but if you REALLY wanted to be clever, here’s what I’d do. For the very best potential prospects, I’d create pages (not anything visible in the site’s navigation, really, but pages you can point people towards) for your specific prospects. So, if I’m pitching Debbie at Lobster Dynamics, what if you give her a page called “amazinggirlwithgreattalents.com/lobster” and when Debbie went there, there was a YouTube video embedded with a video of YOU speaking into the camera as if you’re looking at Debbie directly.
“Debbie – Thanks for the chance to talk a bit more about what I can bring to Lobster Dynamics. I know you had more candidates to evaluate before making a decision, but I wanted to provide you some resources that might prove useful. Below this video are links to three PDF files you can download for further reference. The first is…”
And below that, I’d have a quick “REPLY HERE” kind of opportunity that maybe is a comment box like a blog post, but MIGHT be an email contact form and/or your cell number.
Repeat for Suresh at Spongy Ferret on his own page. Etc.
That’s the beauty of maintaining your own home base.
But that’s not what the Impact Equation tells us about platform. If you’re looking around for great work, part of platform is finding the media opportunities to reach more people in your target field. The low hanging fruit is found by searching networks like LinkedIn and trying to connect there. You can search Twitter via Twitter Search and pump in keywords that might help you find prospective employers or pathways to such. But if you really get researching and you know the potential websites and online publications that are of interest to the field you’re seeking to work in, then you might see about writing guest posts at those places. You might seek to find your way into the media sources your prospective employers already consume.
Can you imagine wanting to hire someone new for your new tech company and finding that they write for Lockergnome or some other cool online magazine?
Building platform means also creating information and media that people can consume to learn more about you. Learning how to improve your writing and maybe even make some videos will go far in helping potential employers know who and what you represent to them, how you think, and what values you cherish. It’s better than a living resume.
Relationships that Matter – The Hardest Part
The number one problem I see when anyone is looking for work is that they rarely have done the groundwork and maintained the relationships necessary to help them find a new role easily. Just because you’re connected with someone on LinkedIn doesn’t mean that you’ve spoken with them in any capacity over the last few years. If you don’t keep your relationships warm, they are guaranteed to be less useful.
To make people care, you have to help them, you have to engage with them, you have to actually participate in their communities. And no, you can’t be everywhere, but you can drop in as often as possible and make sure people know that you’re there and that you want to help them. Notice how I’m not saying that you want these people to help you find a job? That’s an earned outcome. You don’t lead with that.
How do you cultivate relationships that matter? One way is to maintain your own personal contact database. By this, I mean something as simple as a spreadsheet with names of people, their contact info, some notes about your last conversation(s), and most importantly, the DATE of your LAST INTERACTION. Keep that list handy all the time, and you’ll have a simple system built to help you maintain relationships.
Now, this is such a shorthand version of all that goes into relationships. I’m not suggesting that by maintaining tweets and the occasional email back-and-forth with someone that they will rush out and introduce you to the CEO of that company you’ve been hoping to join. It won’t work that way. But what I’m sketching out are some of the mechanics of keeping the relationships you’ve bothered building alive in between explicit needs.
Pulling it All Together
What you’re mostly trying to do when it comes to the Impact Equation and finding work is you’re trying to make sure your idea (that you’re ideal for helping this prospective employer) is seen (by building a great platform of both your home base as well as branching out into social networks and online publications to share your ideas and values) by people who care (because you’ve done your part in building relationships of value).
And if you want the real solid gold makes you money secret of all this, KEEP THE ABOVE SYSTEM MOVING even after you find work. Nurture relationships before you need another job. That’s how the pros do it.
I hope this was helpful. If you’re interested in learning more about the Impact Equation, please do consider ordering the book. It will add many layers of detail and nuance to what I’ve covered above: