The Two Sides of IT Job Hunting: Sales and Marketing - Part 2

My last blog discussed the “marketing” side of job hunting. Today’s blog discusses “sales”.

The reader’s question, which was the basis for last week’s and this week’s blog, was about a Program Manager wanting to develop a plan to enhance his job search. Last week I introduced the concept that looking for a job is the equivalent of trying to sell yourself as if you were a product and went on to discuss the marketing aspects of job search.

This week outlines various sales-related steps to help you land that great new job. From a job search project planning perspective, these steps loosely fall into the following categories; deciding where to concentrate your efforts, finding a way in, getting in the door, interview preparation, the interview, and post interview activities.

Step #1: Deciding where to concentrate your efforts This step is primarily a combination of soul searching and researching. From a soul searching perspective, you should make a final decision as to the specific job you would like to pursue and a potential list of companies where you would prefer to work. The rationale behind this step is that you have to start looking somewhere, so you may as well begin your job search looking for jobs you will enjoy best at the companies where you would most like to work.

Certainly you should be opportunistic as other possibilities arise, but concentrating on attaining a position at one of your defined companies would be ideal.

Step #2: Finding a way in With your list of ideal companies defined, your next step is to find a way to talk to people inside the company using every means possible, including: • Submitting your resume online through their website. • Using LinkedIn to find primary or secondary connections that either currently work or recently worked at the company. • Via Google search, try to find any special events the company is running, then, try to attend and get to know a couple of the employees. • Start commenting on the company’s website by providing quality and innovative ideas regarding their products and services.

Step #3: Getting in the door Begin contacting the people you find in the previous step and ask them for “informational interviews”. An informational interview is simply a meeting with the person to seek their advice on your job search and gain an understanding of how best to find employment within the company.

A word of caution on this approach. If you set up an informational interview with someone, don’t do a bait-and-switch and ask them for a job. This tactic can burn a professional bridge and hurt your professional reputation. Just ask their advice. They know you’re looking for a job. If they have a job opening and have an interest in hiring you, they’ll ask.

Step #4: Interview preparation Certainly quite a bit has been written on how to best prepare for a job interview. In fact, I’ve written on it myself. Therefore, here, I’ll simply provide some generally not-thought-of tips which may be of value to you: • In addition to reviewing the company’s website, also do a Google search on its most recent press releases and newspaper stories. This additional step will give you a much deeper view of the company’s operations, issues and directions. • Depending on the type of company, try to use their products. For example, if the company sells a SaaS-based time management tool, sign up for a demo version of their product. Then, during your interview you can intelligently discuss the company’s product line. • If the company has publicly traded stock, know the previous day’s closing price and how the stock has performed over the last few months. This not only gives you something else to talk about, it also shows you have done your research. • If you know the names of the people you will be interviewing with, do a web search and see if you can find them on LinkedIn, Twitter, ZoomInfo and other potential sources. You may find you have common interests, mutual friends, or other facts that could be of value to you in the interview. • Read a number of blogs and columns on great interview techniques, mine, as well as other writers.

Step #5: The interview Here, I’ll simply say show up on time, dress appropriately, act like you are very interested in the position, and do your best. Yes, the advice listed here within Step #5 is rather lame, but if you have properly done your preparation, including my last related to reading blogs on great interview tips, what else can I say.

Step #6: Post interview activities Lastly, don’t forget your post interview activities. These activities should include the following: • Write down everything that was said before you forget it. This will give you something to review prior to a (hopefully) second interview. Additionally, if you have multiple interviews, it will help you keep track of what was said in each interview. • If people helped you get the interview, for example, you met with the friend-of-a-friend, send a thank you email to the person who made the interview possible. They will appreciate it, it’s not done that often, and it’s the right thing to do.

In closing, remember that properly looking for a new job is a job. Go about it using the same structure, intensity, and effort that you will use once your dream job is attained.

If you have any questions about your career in IT, please email me at eric@ManagerMechanics.com or find me on Twitter at @EricPBloom and @MgrMechanics or at www.ManagerMechanics.com.

Until next time, work hard, work smart, and continue to build your professional brand.

Read more of Eric Bloom's Your IT Career blog and follow the latest IT news at ITworld. Follow Eric on Twitter at @EricPBloom. For the latest IT news, analysis and how-tos, follow ITworld on Twitter and Facebook.

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