I recommend strategically meeting people who can lead you to a “coach on the inside” of 50 growing companies in the growing industries and geography of your choice. How do you do this?
1. Make a list of 50 companies that you think meet the definition above.
2. Divide the list into 5 category columns of about 10 companies each.
3. Add all of your contact information to the top of the page, like on your resume.
4. Make a couple copies.
5. Arrange to meet with someone in your network for coffee or over lunch.
6. If you are currently employed, you are going to need to be careful to secure their agreement to keep your conversation confidential. You will also need to give some color around why you are looking to move. If you are unemployed, you need to give some explanation around your last departure.
7. Let them know you’ve spoken with a career transition coach (this will also tell them you are serious), and he suggested that you learn more about the marketplace for your skills before actually looking for a job; that way your next move will be a better long-lasting fit. Ask if they can help.
8. They may say yes, but if they equivocate with something like “I don’t know how,” say the coach told me to draw up a list of companies (don’t say 50 – that sounds overwhelming) and go through the list and get people’s reactions, positive or negative, particularly around a company’s growth prospects.
9. Pass them a copy of the list; keep a copy for yourself to write notes on. Start with the first category and go through the list.
10. Some companies they won’t know, some they will have positive things to say, some negative. Take notes on your sheet next to each company. At the end of the category, ask if they can think of any companies in that category that aren’t on your list, but should be. Note them.
11. At some point they will begin to tire, or you will get to the end of the last category. Now go back and ask about the companies for which they had positive things to say. How do they know these things? Did they read it do they know someone there? Who do they know? If possible get someone’s name and contact info. If you can get contact info for 3 people from your meeting, your meeting is a success!
12. Thank the person. Send a handwritten thank you note. Connect with them on LinkedIn if not already connected. Put them on a tickle for a monthly email to update them subtly to let them know you are still in the market, but don’t get in their face.
13. Edit your list of companies to remove those that scored negatively, and add any new ones. Repeat this process with as many of the contacts as they offer. These people, who are inside growing companies in which you are interested, can be your “coach on the inside” when an opportunity arises. They may even be able to alert you before a job is posted.
14. Never eat lunch alone, or with coworkers. Get away for coffee as much as you can. If you can, meet with 2 people a day – use weekends to catch up, so 10 people a week. Studies show that on average it takes about 75-80 meets like this to get a job interview. So that’s 2 months straight of hard core networking. Most people can’t keep up that pace. And 75-80 meets is the average – half of job searchers will need more meets to get an interview. Plan for this length of time, this level of work, and this percentage of ‘failures’ before success.