The Job Search Meeting…it could be the key to your next position.
Posted by Molly Wendell // in Job Search
Every good job search includes participation in meetings that are strictly for job seekers. Why is this important? People who are in the search typically know more about who’s hiring, who’s not, and they learn about opportunities that may not be a fit for them, but may be for you. People who already have jobs are doing what you probably used to do: spending most of your waking hours trapped in the four walls of your office, not getting out there meeting new people and doing a less than stellar job of building your network. You’ll be amazed how much information you learn about the market by going to one job search meeting.
Some meetings are targeted toward a specific function or level, while others are general. Many churches have employment ministries that include job search networking meetings as well as information to help you in the search, such as resume writing and effective interviewing techniques. Groups like Executives Network (http://www.executivesnetwork.com) are targeted toward upper management levels. If you are not the target market for a specific type of group, do yourself and the group a favor by attending only those that are appropriate for your level.
What to say. A good job search meeting typically consists of a group of people sitting around a table, with each person having a turn to tell the group: Who they are, what they’re looking for, and how the group can help. Too often, a first-timer (or worse…someone who’s been there a few times) says:
“My name is Jim Smith. I’m a CFO. I spent the last 30 years in the retail industry but I believe my skills are transferable. I’m open to any size company, in any industry, in any location. If anyone knows of anyplace that can use me, please let me know.”
Yes, I know a place. It’s called Vagueville! And they’re not hiring! This person has basically told the group “I am completely unprepared for one of the most important decisions in my life. I have no idea where I want to work and I’m leaving my options up to a bunch of strangers who barely know me.”
Do everyone a favor (including you) and get prepared for your search. You may find that your focus changes over time, but at least start with something. It’s very difficult to help someone who doesn’t know how to help themselves. A prepared job seeker says something like this:
“My name is John Smith. I’m a CFO having spent my last assignments in the telecomm industry with Nortel Networks and AT&T. I am looking for a lead finance position for a medium or large company (state employee or revenue size) or possibly a venture-backed startup in the telecomm or technology industries. My preference is the greater Phoenix area, but I’m also interested in commuting to California or Colorado. Specifically, I’m looking for contacts with Verizon Wireless, Alltel, Virgin Mobile, and any venture capital firms focused on wireless or telecomm.”
And then, you wait for others to give you contacts. If the well is dry, you may want to have some backup ideas or list a few more companies (but don’t be the person who lists fifteen. By the time you read off the seventh one, we’ve forgotten the first six!).
So, you’ve come prepared. You’ve given your spiel. And lo and behold, people actually give you contacts with which to follow up. Be sure to take good notes. Write down the name, company and any contact information (email, phone). Also write down who referred you…so you can reference that person when you follow up with the contact (a referred contact will typically respond faster than one in which you don’t have a referral).
And if you don’t feel like you’re getting much help, either you’re being too vague…or perhaps it’s just a reminder that you need to be more helpful to others. If you can assist four or five people in their search, they’re more likely to go out of their way looking for a way to help you. What comes around, goes around.