Monday, June 21, 2010

Miller Mondays: Nuts and Bolts, Part 1

Welcome back to Miller Mondays!  We have been discussing material from the book 48 Days to the Work You Love, byDan Miller.

The next section, Nuts and Bolts, deals with writing your resume, identifying the companies you would like to work for, getting and performing on the interview, and negotiating salary.  This section gets into lots of details, so I thought I would break it up into two parts.  This week we'll go over resume writing and a company search.

The main points for this week are:

1.  Having a clear personal understanding and focus is 85% of the process.

2.  The resume is a sales tool for where you are going.

3.  The creative job search strategy is your most powerful tool to get the job you want.

A resume should not be the tool that gets you the job.  Your resume should be the tool that makes the company want to interview you.  The resume is selling you, but is only giving enough information that people want to learn more about you.  The way you structure your resume and the information you choose to include will position you for landing the interviews you want.

This 85% number keeps coming up.  Remember when we said that 85% of the reasons for success were due to personal characteristics and skills?  Remember last week when we worked on identifying these skills?  Now is one of the times when they come into play.

Most resumes only get 30-40 seconds of time.  You need to use yours to make an impression.  A generic objective statement at the top of the page is not the way to do this.  Consider starting your resume with a skills summary.  Transferable skills are the basic units of whatever career you choose.  Transferable skills are learned in one job/career, in one context, but can easily be transferred to another context and even career.  Good with organization?  Have some computer skills?  Learn how to do accounting?  Have you been a teacher or a trainer?  Use these skills to market yourself into the position you want next.
Don't particularly like the careers you have had in the past?  Looking for a change?  What transferable skills have you developed in your previous jobs that can carry over to other career paths?  Be creative here - there is lots of room for change!

Many jobs are never advertised at all.  Any job that is advertised is seen by hundreds of people (possibly tens of thousands if it's posted on the internet).  How can you compete with these numbers?  Did you know that the best jobs often aren't advertised at all?  So how can you go about finding the 87% of jobs that are never advertised?

First, identify 30-40 target companies that you would like to work with.  Use your own criteria.  Close to home, size of company, lots of travel, type of business, etc.

Once you have these companies identified, send a letter of introduction.  This letter should be addressed to a specific person, not just to the Human Resources Department.  Most receptionists will give out the names of the people who do hiring; many times this information can be found on the internet.  Use this letter to introduce yourself and start name recognition.  Tell them that you will be sending a resume in the next few days.

Send a cover letter and resume, addressed to the same person.  Do not end your letter with a generic phrase like, "I am looking forward to hearing from you regarding an opportunity with your company."  Instead, give them a specific date when you will call for a follow-up discussion (4-5 days after sending the resume).  This takes the need for initiative off the company, and places it on you.

Then, don't forget to call!  Call on the day you said you would call.  Remind them that you sent a resume a few days ago.  Tell them that you are very interested in what their company does, and you feel your skills would be an asset.  Ask when you can come in to speak to them.  This step builds on the name recognition we started with the introductory letter, and gives you top-of-mind positioning, compared to the people who simply sent resumes with no follow-up phone call.

According to Dan, if you only send cover letters and resumes, you will need to send out 254 resumes to gave a statistical chance of getting any job offer.  If you add a follow-up phone call to the cover letter and resume, you only need to send 15 resumes to get a job offer.  Remember, your resume is a tool to sell you; the goal of the resume is to get you the interview, not to land you the job.

Next week - preparing for the interview and negotiating salary.

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