Wednesday, May 4, 2011

What Document is as Valuable to a Job Seeker as a Great Resume?

All job seekers know the importance of having a resume and many job seekers learn how to create a great resume. There are not many job seekers, though, who know there is a piece of marketing material that is as important and valuable as a great resume: a one-page networking guide.

The networking guide in the past has been called a marketing plan but the old name is misleading. The old name, marketing plan, does not reflect the most important purpose of the document: a guide for your network to use to help you network into your next job.

People want to help you with your job search; they just don’t know what to do. And if you told them they probably don’t remember what you said; they have lives of their own and probably know more than one person in a job transition. When someone offers to help you with your job search, they need something concrete and actionable to do. Having it in writing helps so they don’t have to remember what you said.

As the new name implies, the main purpose of the networking guide is to provide the information needed so your friends, family, and network buddies can help you in your job search. Help them by giving them a one-page summary of the key points to listen for as they are out and about.

When you give them a copy of your networking guide, let them know they can help you by keeping it in a place they see frequently (like on their refrigerators or by their desks). When they meet someone who is hiring one of the job titles listed, or works at one of your target companies, regardless of position, they should just introduce you to them. Simple and actionable.

Seeing it often will help them remember the information. As they are talking with other people and hear a company’s name that is on your list, they will remember to introduce you to the person who has a contact there.

The one-page document has a side benefit. It forces you to concisely state what you are looking for. It includes industry, the various names the position you seek is called, and geographic area (ex. whether or not you are open for relocation). The process of creating the guide helps you identify your top skills, your competitive advantage, and a list of 5 – 10 target companies.

As a job search coach, job seekers frequently offer me their resumes, not to review but so I can help them network. Even as a job search coach the resume does not help me help them. The resume states what they have done, not what they are looking for. The networking guide, however, gives me a list of job titles and target companies that I can use.

One job seeker shared his networking guide with me and said he was told to use it as the cover letter when sending out his resume. Ah – no! Do not share your networking guide with your target companies. Your target companies should believe they are the only company you desire.

How to Create a Networking Guide

The header of the networking guide should be the same header you use on your resume. This is now your letterhead and should be used on all job search materials, giving you a professional look.

If you used a career summary on your resume, you should use that here. If you don’t have one, summarize in less than 5 lines your experience that highlights your competitive advantage.

Table of Core Skills
In a table with 3-5 columns, identify the major categories of your core skills and a few (1-3) brief accomplishment statements that support those skills.

Elevator Pitch
In this section, document the parts of your elevator pitch: the industry, the position (with the various titles used for the same position ex. Project Managers are sometimes called Delivery Managers), and the geographic area you are considering.

Target Companies
Overwhelmingly statistics prove that networking is the best way to find and secure a job. Since it takes time to network into any one company, you do not want to use the shotgun approach and spread yourself too thin. Identify the top 5-10 companies that you really want to work for. This list should come from research you have done to understand who is expanding their business (ones to consider including) and which companies are struggling or letting people go (ones to exclude from your list). Remember too that most of the available jobs are in smaller companies.

Your job as a job seeker is to work your network, find and contact people in these companies, and build a relationship so they get to know you. The rapport you build gives you advantage over the faceless people represented by the thousands flat pieces of paper called resumes that the company received via the internet or mail.

Create your networking guide and freely share it with the people in your network. Save your resumes for the target companies, the ones you will network into with the help of your network buddies.

To receive a networking guide template, e-mail with the subject line “networking guide template”.