Monday, July 21, 2008

The Job Search: Lessons from Booksellers

What You Can Learn about Job Searching from the Publishing Industry

When you are job searching, it's easy to get caught up in the process and overlook the big picture. So, let’s look at the way YOU will look to your future empoyer by examining the old adage

“The bookstore browser averages less than eight seconds looking at the front cover and fifteen seconds reading the back cover. You must hook them immediately and keep them reading the back cover or they will put the book back on the shelf.” [1]

The 5th “P” of marketing is “Packaging.” How’s your Appearance? In our society where book covers are the #1 indicator of book sales, you cannot overlook the importance of your own packaging. A career change is the perfect reason to go out and spend some money on a nice haircut and updated professional clothes. Get a good night’s sleep. Use your free time to exercise and eat well. Just because you're Job Searching is no reason to LOOK unemployed! If you feel good about your appearance, then others will see that you have poise, confidence, and value.

“Book publishers spend more than $50 billion on product packaging design. $50 billion, not for the products or even for the wrappers, but $50 billion just for the design of the wrapper.”[1]

What is your wrapper? Or what is the first thing that an employer will see about you that will formulate his decision to Buy or Keep Browsing. A key part of your wrapper is your Resume. Update it with all new things. Don’t just add your most recent position; update your skills, recognitions, awards and accomplishments. Add any new groups you’ve joined. No new groups to add? Quick, go out and join a group. I mean, you’ve got some free time right now, huh? Then, add it to your resume. Also, breeze back over the years of experience you’ve had and do some re-write to touch up those tired histories through the lens of your greater life experience. Add or update your value statement and 2 key accomplishments right up at the top under your name and contact info, like the headline of a newspaper:
Extra! Extra!
Here’s why you should read about this guy.
Remember, this is your leave behind, so in most cases, may be the last thing a potential employer sees. Make sure it gets them excited about what you can do for them.

With your packaging covered, it’s time to get started. Create your list of contacts and your list of companies you’re interested in. These are organic lists, which means they WILL keep changing! Each contact has a network that they can lead you to, the goal is to get the names of decision makers, their titles and their business addresses. Then you’re going to write them a letter. Not an email. Write them a letter.

The letter should say:
I’m this guy, I know this person that you also know. I am interested in your company because … (“It is the top performer in the industry”, “It fits my values and interests,” stuff like that. Just communicate that you know the company.) You’d be interested to know that in my past, I have done these things and would like to help your company do these things. Please feel free to reach me by phone or email at your convenience. Or, I will call your office on this day.

Really, write that stuff? Yes. Employers get upwards of 125 emails a day. They read about 20%. They also return about 20% of phone calls. The question you are answering for them is this:

“How Determined are You to Get This Job?”
Ready for the key secret to this process? Make the Call! Writing the letter already set you apart from every other person that just hit “Apply” on Now, when you said you would call about 4 days after you send the letter, you MUST pick up the phone and make the call. Call early in the morning (Before 8:30 or 9:30). Call again at lunch time. Call again after work hours. This way you have a better chance of getting someone who is not the professional Gatekeeper. Or perhaps even getting the person you’re looking for! Be prepared to leave a professional message.

“Hi, I’m this guy. I sent you a letter regarding my interest in coming to work for your company. I think you would be excited to hear how I could help (company’s name).”

If you get the gatekeeper, you can simply say: “I’m calling for whoever.” And when they ask what it is regarding, you can say: “I am following up on a correspondence he and I had last week.” Or even, on a good day, “He’s expecting my call.” Sales people use this technique all the time. Warning: don’t make the Gatekeeper think you’re a salesperson!

So When Do I Use Email?
Emailing your resume is your closing tool. It is your leave behind. You did not include it in your first letter, therefore, it is important that after you have talked on the phone to the person and they have requested your resume, that you get their email address. Ask them if they would like you to include references, and then tell them that you will email it to them. And then of course, you follow through with that . --Shawn Butler

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