How To Do Effective Job Search?
How to job search: Focus on needs. Effective job searching is all about unstated needs and the ability to share this convincingly and stand out from the crowd.
In August 2011 I had the pleasure of attending the Dscoop Asia 2011
What has Dscoop to do with career management and how to job search? Not much if anything, but if I reflect on the key note speaker – there is a lot of commonality. The key address on Conference Day 1 was delivered by Mr. James Lafferty. Some might know him but those that don’t, James is the CEO of Coca Cola, West Africa and has as well a long executive tenure at P&G behind him. His key note had the caption “Leading your business beyond the Ordinary” and was a true crowd pleaser. Now I’m not about to dwell on this here but I did take note of a few key statements and knowledge sharing that could well be transferred into the career sphere. It’s these I’d like to highlight. As James put it: “If you take care of customer needs the business takes care of itself”. Well put indeed but what really got me sitting straight in the comfortable chair was his focus on needs. Any business and any individual should focus on three elements of needs:
1. Obvious needs
2. Stated needs
3. Unstated needs
Now 1 and 2 may seem very basic. Let’s image you intend to buy an “automobile”. Before you make this significant investment you have probably decided that you want a car. Your basic need is to have a self-driven mode of transportation that can accommodate – probably – more than one person. You expect the car to move, on wheels, have an engine, steering, a gear box, roof, a boot, seats, safety belts etc. etc. etc. All of these are obvious needs. Move on to 2. Your stated needs might be “efficient fuel economy”; “built in hand phone”; “built in GSP”; “Trucker like horn” etc. meaning you state to the vendor specifically what you want. And the vendor, the car salesperson does what he/she does to fulfill these needs. And then there is 3. Along the automobile line of thinking, unstated needs are, well needs you have not stated but value offerings and benefits (hopefully) that this car salesperson offer for you to ponder over. That could e.g. be the opportunity to have a cabriolet version that you weren’t aware was available, or the “self-parking feature”, or “auto tracker” etc. etc. etc. The sales person is up-selling by offering you elements that you have NOT thought of hoping that you will focus on this, value them and eventually add them to your order.
This is focusing on unstated needs. Very compelling unstated needs examples are “the IPOD or IPAD”; “the SMARTPHONE”; “your GPS wrist watch”; “QR codes” etc. etc. there are hundreds if not thousands of good examples. Common for all – no one asked for this to be invented/marketed (although probably someone wanted to compress Audio formats beyond belief, but this was not a common request by the masses).
So what has this to do with your career management planning? Everything I think. Think of this when you contemplate how to job search. To be successful in any job application situation, in any interview, you need to shine and step above the crowd. Your resume must be compelling – it takes just 7 seconds to scan a resume and typically, only the upper half of the first page is read carefully. This rest is flipped through, acted on or re-archived. It has to shine, to captivate to get attention. Same with your cover letter and when you have achieved this, and when you are indeed called for a first interview, well there you have to shine in person. You must leave a mark and be remembered.
This is not so easy!
But can you draw the parallel to focusing on unstated needs? The interviewer – HR manager at the prospective employer or the recruiter etc. will take for granted that the obvious needs and the stated needs are fulfilled by anyone applying for a vacancy. If this is all you bring to the table – well, sorry mate! You’ll just be one among many with similar offerings. You’ll be in the infamous “red sea”.
“Blue sea” should be your focus and this is where you have the opportunity to raise above the crowd and doing so via focus on unstated needs – next to your compelling personality and excellent social skills of course. So just how can you do this in a job interview; in an application?
It all starts when you plan how to job search. Prepare!
You might have your own ways but what works for me is:
1. Fully understand the job and try to “assume” what is expected of you. If you don’t, call in advance and ask some basic questions. Use this to thoroughly prepare your questions and answers to anticipated questions
2. Get to know the industry in which the business is in. Read up. Search and filter on the internet. You can always find something! Attend seminars on topic matters if available or research in your network if someone knows someone who just might know the insights of this particular industry. Ask them to share – YES – ask a favor and in time, pay that back.
3. Thoroughly read up on the company. Get to know them. What is the strategy? What are the vision and mission statements? Are there stated objectives – either across or in specific line businesses. Is there a forum on the company or the industry. Check postings. Follow discussions. Learn.
4. Check back staff magazines (you find them on their website) and at least past few quarter issues. This usually gives great direction into the DNA of a company, their culture etc.
5. Read up on press and media releases in the past 12 months. Check youtube for news.
6. Check up on Reuters, Yahoo finance, Hoovers, Annual reports etc. Know the big picture and the key numbers – are they making money? Is the business in growth? What are the upsides/downsides. What are key markets, products, identify challenges etc. etc.
Around all of this you spin your value proposition that includes the company’s unstated needs. It does not have to be much. Just a few important questions, statements, illustrations and you will get your marks across, you will be noticed and you will be remembered.
This is a lot of work of course but it does help you to do a more effective job search and it may just give you the necessary foundation to create the perfect pitch and to shine in the application process.
Oh – and more resources here if you like