- To determine whether the organization is right for you. Try to discover all the pros and cons you can. Research may reveal a serious problem that might cause you to eliminate the organization, or it may reveal some outstanding opportunities that will further encourage and motivate you.
- To impress the interviewer. You'll impress the interviewer simply by explaining in concise terms why you should be hired and by demonstrating that you are full of enthusiasm, experience, and potential. Because so few people bother to research a company, you'll stand out in a very positive way if you've done your homework and go armed with information. Weave your information into the conversation appropriately. Some employers will ask, "What do you know about us?" Most people will hem, haw, and fail this question miserably. But you will shine. Even when asked this question, however, don't overwhelm the interviewer with your answer. Give a thorough but concise response.
- To discover problems you can help solve. Problems you have the ability to solve could come to light before or during an interview. If you discover them before the interview, you'll have time to prepare and perhaps even develop a proposal. Otherwise, listen for clues to such problems during the interview. An employer may come right out and describe problems, but will probably only allude to them. Careful listening can help you match your abilities or experience to the problem area. By all means emphasize those strengths that can help solve the organization's problems.
- To identify questions that must be clarified by the employer. An annual report or a magazine article may have mentioned an exciting new product being developed by your target company. If the interviewer doesn't mention it, you may have to ask if you would have a role in developing, marketing, or selling it. If an inside source told you that a strike could cripple the company, you might ask about the effects of such a strike. If the company has lost money three years in a row, you might ask what the company is doing to reverse the losses.
Do some research before each interview, even if it's the third or fourth interview with the same company. This is particularly important if you feel really good about the job, your potential boss, and the company. Discover all you can. Answering questions effectively and asking the right questions could make the difference between being the number-one choice and the number-two choice.
Making the Systematic Job Search Work
The people who succeed with the Systematic Job Search strategies become detectives. Successful detectives never get discouraged. They follow up on each lead until the case is solved. Dozens of leads may dead end, but eventually one pays off. Remember, it only takes one good job offer, and you'll never be able to predict where the lead will come from.
The number-one cause of failure in job hunting is inaction, and the number-one cause of inaction is fear of rejection. Many people are not technically inactive; in fact they may be very busy. But they're in efficient, spinning their wheels, and making no headway. Such ineffective tactics can lead to a vicious cycle. It usually starts like this: when people lose their jobs, they start looking at the want ads. They throw their slightly revised resume around with very little success, but finally an invitation for an interview is offered. Since most people "wing it" in interviews with no research, practice, or forethought, the first few interviews go very poorly, leading to a string of rejections. Eventually, many people reach what Richard Bolles calls "Desperation Gulch," that feeling of hopelessness and depression that can lead to giving up. By all means, avoid the vicious cycle.
You will do that by:
- following the strategy as it has been described;
- keeping busy and using good time management; and
- enjoying several low-stress appointments each week.
The typical recommendation for job seekers would be to develop a list of at least 70 potential employers and seek face-to-face meetings with the hiring authorities. There are exceptions, however. In some types of positions, particularly office and clerical jobs, you are actually better off calling the personnel department of larger companies or the office manager of smaller companies. The reason for this is that clerical people work in almost any department of an organization, so there may be many people who hire clerical staff. If you use this strategy you could still identify 10-20 organizations that you are especially interested in and meet the personnel manager or office manager. Simply walking in and meeting someone in personnel can also be effective.
When using the calling strategy, you would begin by introducing yourself, briefly explaining your background, and asking if any openings currently exist. You should be able to average 12 calls an hour. If you have 120 organizations on your list and call once a week to learn of job openings, your total time expended is only ten hours weekly. The strategy should yield two to three interviews each week. Although 120 may seem like a lot of organizations, when using this strategy you need large numbers. Even 150 is not too many. If you are looking for office positions and you live in an urban area, there will probably be over 150 potential organizations within 15 minutes of your home.
After You've Met Hiring Authorities
After talking to key people in most of your top twenty organizations, you have two main options.
For most, the next logical step will be to repeat the process with your next group of twenty. You've exhausted your top-twenty group and visited or talked to 10-15 hiring authorities. Very likely there were no current openings, but you should have the confidence that you will be contacted if openings occur. It makes sense simply to continue what is working well for you. Progress may seem slow, but you're making high-quality contacts.
If you are currently working and intend to be very particular in who you work for, a second option is available. You may choose not to contact any more firms, since your were very impressed with the 10-15 firms you had appointments with. You might decide to merely maintain your follow-up with these organizations until the right opening occurs. If you've found six to twelve outstanding organizations, and if you're convinced there aren't any others that might interest you, you can stop your search and develop a creative follow-up campaign. Continue to learn as much as possible about each organization. Look for every opportunity to demonstrate that a position should be created to utilize your unique talents and experiences. Mailing really interesting articles to the hiring authorities can be one effective way of causing them to remember you.