Remember my friend who had the unannounced reference check? He received a job offer this week. He was offered a job that didn’t exist until he came along and made a case as to why it should and why he was the perfect person to do it.
As we all know, most available positions are never advertised. Many positions that will be in demand in a few years do not yet exist. A job seeker who knows their brand and thinks like an entrepreneur will get ahead in this tough job market. That is exactly what my friend did.
Gathering information and developing a plan
There are a few key things my friend did as he started his job search:
- For the most part, he ignored major online job boards and the like. Knowing most jobs are unadvertised, he focused instead on what he wanted in a job and where his skills would be a good fit, regardless of whether there was an available position posted
- He gained extensive experience and knowledge about his niche industry as well as the companies in his geographic area, even if they were only remotely related to his industry
- He maintained relationships with people in the industry who could provide him with information about particular companies and industry trends
- He knew his strengths, had confidence in what he could do, and identified how he was unique from other job seeking competitors
Putting information into action
Once my friend had done the above, he started to apply it to his search:
- He used his knowledge of the industry and his network to figure out which companies could benefit from growing their business in his area of expertise
- He wrote letters of interest (prospecting letters) to those companies explaining how his expertise could provide value to the organization
- He increased the likelihood of his prospecting emails being read by using his network to access the right people
Companies were impressed with his initiative and talent. But they weren’t sure how to use that talent within their company.
Intrigued, two companies were willing to schedule meetings to learn more. My friend kept these meetings more focused on the company, so he could learn more about their business, and outlined exactly how they could benefit from expanding, investing or further developing their market share within his industry.
At the second meeting, an actual interview, he prepared a written plan detailing how the company could capitalize on his ideas and pitched it to the employer. Inserted into the plan was exactly what he would do as an employee of the company. The plan was written in a way that convinced employers that they needed him in order to follow-through with the ideas he had presented. He identified a need the employer didn’t even know it had and then proposed a concrete, well-thought out solution.
In the end, one employer wanted to bring him on but could not afford to. Economic realities are still a factor no matter how impressed an employer might be. The other, however, made him an offer.
The moral of the story? Be proactive and look for opportunities – not necessarily for yourself but for a company or organization that interests you. Then figure out how your skills can be used to capitalize on the opportunity you have identified. Finally, demonstrate to the employer that they NEED to bring you on board to do so.
Anyone else out there successfully pitched their brand to an employer? Do share!
Kelly is a career advisor at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, where she assists undergraduate business students with all aspects of their career development. Kelly received her masters degree in Higher Education/Student Personnel Administration from New York University, and her bachelors degree from UW-Madison, where she majored in Political Science and Women’s Studies. Connect with Kelly on Twitter,LinkedIn or BrazenCareerist.