You are the boss of your search; congrats!
You’ve just found out that you need to look for a new opportunity, and it’s been forever (perhaps never) that you’ve had to actively search on your own for a new gig. Perhaps your career to date has grown through personal referrals, your network and/or recruiters presenting new roles to you direct. It’s time to “explore opportunities” and the how, where, and with whom, can feel overwhelming.
You decide to start actively exploring new opportunities. That first step might be notifying your network, checking out some job boards, or spending some introspective time looking at what it is you enjoy and what it is you are good at – and why. A common play is to update your LinkedIn, your resume, and start applying to the top 5 jobs that look interesting. Then you wait… nothing comes of it. Did they receive your application? Did your carefully written resume end up buried beneath other applicants that are not qualified? You quickly realize you need to take control to get noticed, but how?
I’m going to offer some advice from an in-house recruiter perspective (from my days as Director, Talent Acquisition of Conversant)
Here’s a few things to do, and a few things not to do when looking to get your resume, your brand and your knack on top of the ‘applicant stack’.
Your Elevator Pitch:
- View yourself as if you are a product, identify your unique features and benefits, and package those into an Elevator Pitch.
- Your Elevator Pitch is your 30 second pitch about what makes you unique. Practice this with friends and family, ask them for feedback.
- Your Elevator pitch needs to resonate across email, social media, phone calls and in-person deliveries. Make sure your elevator pitch can be applied across various communication methods.
Your Pitch for Your Network’s Use:
Create a quick summary to share with your contacts. Asking your network to ‘keep an eye out for senior product roles’ with you in mind is not likely to get you anywhere. Instead, send your network an email with a blurb about you to use for making intros and suggesting your candidacy to others. Be clear about positions you are interested in exploring; and keep it positive. I.e.:
After X years of leading product strategy and growing the machine learning functionality for X Company; I’ve decided to start searching for a new role. This is a bittersweet decision taken with careful evaluation – my experience to date has sharpened my leadership capabilities, enabled me to evolve from employee 10 to employee 150 with a team built from the ground up. I’ve worked at, and further enriched my passion for next gen technologies that depend on machine learning/AI to make our workforce more efficient.
I’m excited to look at the sea of opportunities and secure a new gig! If you could keep your eyes and ears peeled for me, I would greatly appreciate it. Should you come across an opportunity that aligns with my interests and skill sets, please let me know or feel free to introduce me directly. Here is a drafted blurb on my expertise (and resume attached) to make potential introductions easy for you:
Joe has a degree in Economics from UCLA, he moved to New York shortly after graduation to work as an Analyst for Deloitte. His consultative start unveiled the common challenges enterprise ecosystems face. With that came a passion to work in a nimble team that could solve big problems with technology. Specifically, how to leverage technology to enhance employee experience. This interest actualized by his 5+ years at X Company, where Joe advanced across Product and Data Analytics. Most recently, Joe helped X Company achieve A, B, C.
He is looking for roles in X location where he can join an early stage company in need of a Product Leader who has the technical acumen to bridge engineering, sales and marketing.
Here’s a few of his noteworthy accomplishments:
List 3-5 quick statements
Here is his contact info:
LinkedIn | Email | Phone
Thanks in advance for your support as my career evolves.
Your Target Company List:
Next, identify what type of company you want to work. Do you like the structure and hierarchy of an established company? Do you prefer the nimble, ever changing atmosphere of a start-up? By start-up, do you want a stable Series B with $10M raised or a bootstrap start-up where equity will likely be a big piece of your compensation package? Do you want to stay in the same industry, or venture out? Perhaps you will choose more than one path…but create a couple paths to go down. When the world is your oyster, it’s easy to get lost.
Prepare a target employer list in an organized fashion. For example, see our Activity Tracker as a template to start with. Prepare an initial 25-50 target companies that fit the fill for your career goals. (We suggest you start with target companies rather than posted jobs. Not all jobs are posted so this way, you will be able to connect with immediate opportunities, and perhaps some opportunities that are not visible to others). Research your target companies by leveraging your Linkedin contacts, Quora, trade publications, Glassdoor, Indeed, and others. Look at the open positions, and check your network. If you have an ‘in’ through a connection, leverage that v. applying blindly.
Applying on Employer Career Sites/Posted Jobs:
Applying to open roles without a contact can be like throwing your resume into a void. Ensure you tailor your elevator pitch to express why their company, this role, and why you are qualified. Showcase that you have handpicked their company and the opportunity. Most target company contacts will not take the time to read cover letters, and few candidates tailor lengthy cover letter/resume outreaches. So, be brief and be poignant with your statements – what do they care about, what about you as an individual do you need to highlight? Showcase that and nothing else. Reaching out to the same Contact: how many times is enough? A rule of thumb is three times. Urgency is important! Wait 2 business days and tap again until you get a thumbs up or down.
Employee Referral Programs:
Leverage your contacts/employee referral rewards for companies that have open posted roles. If you know someone at your target company, then it is in your best interest to have your employee contact introduce you. Most companies offer an employee referral program (it can range from $500 to $5,000) that rewards employees for talent hired. You will find that your candidacy is moved to the top as a result of having an internal advocate. Share your written elevator pitch and your resume directly with your contact prior to applying. Give your contact 2 business days, and if they do not present you to HR or the right contact tap them again. If after 3 business days they have not presented you, apply on the company career site directly.
Leveraging External Recruiters:
Recruiters can provide great insights into the market, as well as potentially have an opportunity that will be a good fit for you. Ask your network which recruiter they recommend. It is worth mentioning that recruiters are paid by companies to fill positions. Role placement or not, you might leverage their expertise for more than their openings (what’s market value, which companies are hiring, which companies are struggling, etc.)
Automation: Use it to your advantage.
Leverage Google alerts for companies of interest to stay current on their latest happenings; it will ensure your outreach attempts are timely & relevant. Setup job alerts for LinkedIn job postings & Indeed job openings, etc. …that way you will receive updates about your target companies and target opportunities. You can also leverage these email alerts to reconnect or follow-up with your target companies. I.e.: Your second email to the corporate recruiter might read: I noticed your company in the news and thought of your firm (link) with a statement showing you read the article. Looking forward to next steps, or updates.
Be Persistent, Not Pesky:
When you follow-up, do not be apologetic; i.e.: “Sorry to bother you but have you assessed my candidacy yet?” No, No, No. Instead be confident, poised and respectful: i.e.: “I look forward to your feedback on my candidacy – as a professional actively in market, with a high interest in this position, your response is greatly appreciated.”
Also, know when to call it. Time is the enemy, if it takes too long between the initial outreach and updates, and you have tried to reach out 3 times, then I’d say it is time to move on (this is subjective, so choose a number and be intentional with your efforts – if it is 5, so be it!). Ask for constructive feedback on why you are not a fit for the role, so that you can learn. Not all recruiters will offer candid feedback, but they appreciate candidates that want to improve.
Next step…prepare for the interview you landed!