As part of my severance package for the job that I lost at the end of 2012 the company provided to me a company to help me through the job transition. I call the person assigned to me my Career Coach. Her name is Carla and she has been terrific to work with. Not only does her company provide group training sessions on such topics as interviewing and networking, but they also provide 1:1 guidance sessions.
Carla’s career transition and outplacement services company was only authorized to provide services to me for 1 month, so I didn’t want to miss out on any chances of utilizing their services. I setup 4 individual coaching sessions and attended 2 group training sessions. The first group session was just learning about their company and the services they provide and to give everyone an overview of what to expect starting a new job search.
The second group session was designed to be a training class on interviewing and networking skills. We talked about how to use social media, including LinkedIn, to reach out to your network and how to get introduced to people at companies that you are interested in. We talked about the Informational Interview, where you meet with a person in the company you are interested in working for. You meet in a low pressure environment because you are not asking them for a job. You are only asking them about their industry, their company, do they like what they do, and how did they get started, or promoted, to what they do today. It’s a great way to do additional research about a company and their industry.
Certainly you take the opportunity to tell your new contact what you do and what you are interested in doing. In the end you ask them if they know anyone that they would recommend that you should talk to. Now, if they happen to be in a position of being a hiring manager and they see potential in you, then, more than likely, they are bound to bring that up in the conversation. But since your intention was only to learn more about them and their business, most people in that situation will offer to help you. You just have to ask.
For my 1:1 sessions with Carla we focused on some basic concepts initially – how to explain why I am looking for work, which is sometimes an uncomfortable topic. She called that the “Exit Statement.” You want to answer it directly and not dwell on it. Move the conversation along. Next we discussed what the recruiter wants to hear when they make the simple statement, “Tell me about yourself.” For that you want to have prepared and rehearsed your “Positioning Statement.” It is not supposed to be your life story. In Carla’s perspective, and that of her company, it should be a short 1-2 min presentation about what you do and what you want to do and some things that are unique about your ability to do those things.
I’ve heard this speech called an “Elevator Pitch” before. Imagine that you started on the ground floor of a building and had a chance to ride the elevator to the penthouse with the CEO of the company that you were interested in working for. What would you say in that conversation? It has to be brief but impressive. You should take the time to write that speech out and practice it out loud, in front of a mirror, with a friend, until it becomes comfortable and effortless.
That’s my lesson for you this time. Have your Exit Statement and Positioning Statement well rehearsed and know when to use them during your interviews and networking opportunities. Good luck!
Your comments at the bottom of the page are always welcome. You can also write to me at my email address below and I’ll get back to you. Best of luck to you on your search!