If you saw the “handwriting on the wall,” or received a pink slip and were let go, would you be able to think in a rational manner?
Many people respond emotionally and jump the gun without clearly thinking about the result of their actions and its long-term affects on their job search.
How to move your job search forward
In order to move yourself forward you should be thinking backward.
Here are three examples of how thinking backward can greatly shorten your job search and improve your overall results.
1. Answer ads backward.
2. Interview backward.
3. Network backward.
Here’s how it goes:
First, when answering job advertisements you don’t want to be the first one in the door. Rather, it is more beneficial to come in at the end of the resume review process.
Here is why. Have you ever purchased a pizza and on the box is the motto: “You’ve tried all the rest, now try the best!” Was that pizza truly the best? No, probably not”but it was perceived as best”mostly because it is fresh in your mind.
People reviewing resumes in search firms and HR departments will cull through the queries and select what they perceive to be the best candidates. Then they will interview these candidates either on the phone, in person or both.
Your goal then, is not to be a “slice in the crowd” but rather to be the last “taste in their mouth”. You put this effect to your greatest advantage if you allow all the other candidates to go first. Then, when you come in at the end of the review process you are hopefully perceived as the best.
Of course, the assumption here is that your CV makes it easy for the reader to obtain the answers to two critical hiring questions: Can you do the job technically? And will you fit with the management team the company has in place? This should be the focus of the top of the first page of your CV.
Second: Interviewing backward. When you agree to an interview with a recruiter or company, make every effort to come in at the end of the interviewing process. The issue again is the “pizza box.” The interviewer has seen the rest of the candidates ” now hopefully he will see the best.
One way to try and assure that you come in at the end of the process is to ask the interviewer when they are interviewing for the position and deliberately select a day and time at the end of the process.
Best times are usually the afternoon of the fourth day and the morning of the fifth day in a five workday sequence or the 8th or 9th day in a 10 workday sequence. Don’t underestimate this critical point. Being “freshest” in the minds of the hiring influence is a tremendous advantage.
Third: Networking backward. Most people know the story about the out-of-town couple who came to New York City for the first time and asked a cab driver how they could get to Carnegie Hall. The cab driver replies “Practice lady, practice.”
That is exactly how you get good at networking. However, when working your business and professional contacts you need to network backward; i.e., with your least important contacts first. Let’s call them your “c” grade contacts, then you move up to the “b” grade contacts and finally meet with your best or “a” grade contacts. In other words: don’t practice on your “good stuff.”
It is a grave mistake to leave a job and start calling your best contacts. You’re not ready to meet because you have not defined the product that you’re selling (your skill set and experience), your resume is not updated and polished, and you have not defined where you want to go next.
Placing yourself in front of your best contacts without adequate preparation is a sure way to unnecessarily extend your job search. Don’t do it. Instead work your contacts from “c” to “b” then to your “a” contacts.
Finally, it is good to remember the terrific quote from Vince Lombardi: “Luck is preparation meeting opportunity.” Thomas Jefferson said it a little different: “I am a great believer in luck, and the harder I work, the more I have of it.”
Instead of being in a hurry, and simply making yourself feel better with a flurry of uncoordinated activity, undertake the proper preparation to maximize the number of interviews and then interview at a more opportune time. In addition, you will also make it easier for your networking contacts to help you because you are better prepared.
Lloyd Feinstein is a full-time career counselor and advisor.