I was about to excuse myself when I heard the candidate ask Mark what the purpose of these events were, to which he replied “…it’s an environment where candidates, recruiters, and hiring managers can meet each other and build relationships which will help everyone in this market…”.
The candidate followed with “…I’m not here to make friends; I’m just here to get a job! Once I get a job, then I’ll worry about networking…”
Mark and I looked at each other with a puzzled look.
In my business I see this kind of mistake every day. Job candidates are so focused on getting a job; they become trapped in a poor routine and fail to see all the opportunities around them.
In today’s market 85% of all positions are currently being filled through networking and personal referrals. Many of the recruiters that I know are filling positions with people they already know through their extended network.
The other day I was having coffee with a recruiter and a Microsoft hiring manager. During our conversation the hiring manager mentioned that he was looking for two financial analysts but hadn’t yet posted the positions online. The recruiter said he knew a couple of candidates that would be a perfect fit.
Without looking at their resumes the hiring manager said “bring them in for an interview.”
People do business with people they LIKE and TRUST. Managers hire candidates they LIKE and TRUST. Without a relationship, it’s extremely difficult for people to like and trust you.
In my business I attend many job fairs and another mistake I see candidates make is Elevator Pitches. Old school of thought is that you’re supposed to have a 30 – 60 second pitch about yourself ready to go so that when you meet someone, you can quickly tell them who you are, what you do, and what you’re looking for.
While I’m an advocate of personal branding, clear messaging, and great communication skills, I’m not an advocate of acting like a telemarketer.
Imagine you’re sitting at home enjoying dinner, and the phone rings. You pick up and someone on the other end goes straight into their pitch.
Do you remember the last telemarketer that called you? What was their name or product? Or did you tune them out as soon as they said “hello”.
You can recognize them every time they call. They have that “tone”; the over-practiced, robotic, “here’s what I have to sell you” tone. That’s exactly what candidates at job fairs sound like.
Instead candidates should focus on building relationships first.
Building relationships is cumbersome; pitching someone isn’t. Therefore most candidates take the path of least resistant and pitch everyone they meet.
I was at a networking event two weeks ago and met an MBA student. I asked her what she was doing at the event and she opened her valise, pulled out her resume, and handed it to me. She said she was looking for a job! That’s NOT a good approach for getting a job.
She didn’t take the time to get to know me, ask me questions, find out what I’m interested in, and what I need. Instead her conversation was all about her.
Next time when I’m having coffee with a hiring manager, am I going to remember or reference her? Not very likely.
If you want to STAND OUT, here is what you need to do at the next job fair or social event:
- Build Rapport (people like people who are like themselves). Recruiters meet many people on an ongoing basis. In order to STAND OUT, you must build rapport with everyone you meet. To build rapport quickly, adopt their physiology and language patterns. This requires you to be flexible as a candidate and get out of your shell; it’s about the people you’re meeting.
- Ask questions / Find a need. People love to talk. Asking questions allows them to express themselves. Asking questions also allows you to learn more about them and their company; their goals, interests, and needs. You’re making it ALL ABOUT THEM. You’re automatically sending a subconscious message to their brain that a) you’re different; b) you’re someone that’s interested in them instead of yourself. Last but not least, asking questions allows you to find a need that you can solve in step 3. Here are some questions you might ask:
- What company are you with?
- What companies do you recruit for?
- Who are you looking to meet tonight?
- Who is your ideal candidate?
- What type of positions do you normally recruit for?
- Create a value proposition. Recruiters are very busy. They have a very difficult job of sorting through the masses in order to find the right candidates. You need to state a reason for them to continue to converse with you and ultimately build a relationship other than “here’s my resume; get me a job.” Recruiters get paid when they place a candidate. By helping them, you’re ultimately becoming a valuable resource to them and they’ll want to remain in contact with you and through reciprocity, return the favor. Here are a couple examples of what you might say:
- I’m pretty connected in the Seattle market and meet technology folks on an ongoing basis. Perhaps I know a few people that might be a good fit for your openings.
- I know a few hiring managers at Microsoft you should meet.
- Request a follow up meeting. Too many times we go to these networking events, take the time to meet new people, yet we fail to take it to the next level and build a relationship. The first step in building relationships is face time. It’s in that 1-1 setting that you’ll get to know the other person, learn about them and have the chance to deeply connect with them.
- I would love to have coffee, learn in detail what you’re looking for so that I can be a good referral source for you.
- I think I might know a few people for you. Let’s talk over phone or coffee next week to discuss this.
- End on a good note. This is obvious but I can name numerous examples where people have left a meeting with negative impressions (i.e. talking too much, wasting their time)
- Thank them, and tell them that you’ll be in touch.
- Mention something great about the venue and that you enjoyed meeting them.
- Follow Up! Follow Up! and Follow Up Again! Now that you’ve asked to meet afterwards for coffee, make sure to actually follow through and take the time to set this up. If you don’t get through initially, be patient and follow up again.
- In the next 24-hours, send them a quick email reminding them of the conversation you had and request a time to meet in the next couple of weeks.
- Send them a thank you note for the time they spent with you and how great it was to meet them. Then ask for a follow-up meeting.
Once you have a meeting set, be candid of their time and make sure you provide the most value to them. The focus should be 90% serving them, and 10% about you.
When you do this, you’ve changed your mindset from self-serving to a contributor. Zig Ziglar said it best “You can have everything in life you want if you’ll just help enough other people get what they want.”
Recruiters refer candidates they like and trust. If you want to get hired quickly, this is THE way to find positions before they’re posted and make sure you get the edge in this crowded job market.
Due to the nature of their business, recruiters know many people. Are you the one they’re going to think of when a position opens up?
Live Seminars in December
- December 5 (Bellevue, WA)
- December 8 (Bellevue, WA)
- December 10 (Bellevue, WA)