As I talk to hundreds of job seekers through a job networking group I help lead and through my career as a “Headhunter”, every now and then I find someone that got a new job in a matter of a couple weeks of starting their search.
Some, certainly just got lucky. They happened to apply for the right job at the right time and virtually stumbled into their new career. Some have had experience in a particularly “hot” skill or technology and got snatched up as soon as they let people know they were available. However, for most of the others, it was the result of doing things differently than most people do.
So what did they do? Invariably, these “Sprinters” have behaviors and activities in common…
They don’t fish at the same hole as everyone else. Most job seekers start by going online to job boards, company websites to see relevant job postings, run Google searches for jobs in their field, or look at newspaper want-ads or other traditional sources. And why not? That’s where the jobs are! Right? Well, yes, but since it’s where most job seekers go, you’re automatically “one of the many”… tough to get noticed!
“Sprinters” go where most people don’t. They make personal contact with everyone they can, whether they think the contact knows of jobs or not. They network and follow referrals and leads far beyond what others are generally willing to do. Primarily, they chase people, not jobs.
They are exceptionally professional! Professional is not defined by appearance, or dress, or vocabulary (although each of those factors contribute to it). It’s also defined by attitude, tenacity, appropriateness, and a sense of “being on the ball”. They present themselves at their best in each of their contacts and exhibit polished enthusiasm in a way that sets them apart. Read: Are You “Professional”?
They don’t just work ‘9 to 5’! It’s a well worn cliché to say that “Looking for a job is a full-time job in itself”. The truth is though, that the vast majority of job seekers don’t even put in part-time hours. Some studies suggest that, on average, job seekers spend less than 2 hours per day of concentrated effort into their job search.
“Sprinters” tend to be very focused and have a great sense of urgency. They manage their time so that they are on the phone and contacting people as much as possible during “prime time” business hours, and doing all the digging, prep work, and planning in their evenings and weekends. Typically, they are putting in at least 40 hours per week of concentrated effort, and usually much more.
For Example… I recently got to know someone who was laid-off from his job of the last 6 years. The day after his lay-off, he signed-up for my 8-week job search class (he was done before the 2nd week). He didn’t once look at job boards online, or surf company websites for job postings. Instead, that first evening, he gathered together his personal phone book and made lists of every friend, family member, business contact, other parents of his kids sports teams, church acquaintances and anyone else he could think of. He created scripts for the conversations he would have with people. Scripts for direct conversations, and scripts for the inevitable voicemails. He also found his college alumni directory online, targeted people locally, and created scripts for those conversations as well. Over the next 3 days he sat at his phone from 8:00 in the mornings into the evenings getting in touch with as many of those people he could.
His scripts were relatively simple. All he did was let his contacts know he was looking for a new position, and that his “job” during the job search was to expand his network as much as he could. He gave them a very simple and brief description of what he was looking for, and asked if they knew of anyone else that would be worthwhile for him to talk to. He was intentionally up-beat, prepared, and exuded competence, enthusiasm and professionalism! Who wouldn’t want to refer someone like that to their best business contacts?!?
His list kept growing, and he ended up literally making hundreds of calls. He got leads, and meetings set up. But didn’t quit making calls when he got them. He kept calling through the whole list to get as many leads and meetings as he could before he followed up on them. He set up several meetings over the next few days, which led to 7 interviews at 5 companies, and accepted a great job offer by the end of the 2nd week.
He didn’t have a stellar career history, or “hot” skill set, and in fact determined (and succeeded) in making a career change into a new field… a particularly difficult feat in this job market.
He is not alone! There are others I know that essentially did the same thing as well!
The keys were: Determination. Making hundreds of calls. Being upbeat, enthusiastic, and professional on every call (easier to do on the first 10 than on the 200th)! Being prepared (created scripts, and after he finished his calls he stayed up most of a night preparing his resume). He went “all out”, working long hours. Presenting himself as positively and professionally as he could in each meeting and interview. Not getting slowed down by the “No’s”… and there were a LOT of them!
Unfortunately, the reality for most job seekers is that they are not willing to put in that kind of effort or work at presenting themselves in the best possible light. Are you?
Certainly it’s possible to do all this, and not end up with a new position quickly. However, with enough determination and effort, you will certainly land a new job much more quickly than the average job hunter.
Resolve to be a “Sprinter”!
Harry Urschel has over 20 years experience as a technology recruiter in Minnesota. He currently operates as e-Executives, writes a blog for Job Seekers called The Wise Job Search, and can be found on Twitter as @eExecutives.
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