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Job #1: Get the Job and Plan Those First 100 Days

Finding a new job requires a lot of dedicated strategic thinking and planning. Businesses are economic engines with bottom lines to meet. They only hire you when they perceive that you will contribute to the long-term growth and stability of the company. They want to know that their security as a profit-making entity will be enhanced by your presence on the job. Translation: job search is about them, not about you.

Companies make economic decisions about you the same way they make decisions about other resources. Keep in mind during your interviews or correspondence that your inherent personal value is not at stake in the search process. The issue at hand is the business of presenting a product or resource to a company that wants to buy it—for a good return on their investment.

Investing in an employee requires a lot of capital, effort, and time on the part of the company; it’s up to you to show the benefit. So maintain a little distance, protect the sacrosanct part of yourself, and let’s build a plan to find the new job that you want.

The First Step

To begin with, in your calculations and internal self-coaching, stop talking about you and let’s instead talk about Product You—that external entity that needs to be “sold” to the highest, most credible, most interesting bidder. Let’s gather up around the table your internal/external bench strength of marketing, sales, operations, and transition expertise. You may have some of these skills yourself, that’s the internal expertise. But it always pays you back to assemble a group of colleagues and more senior executives with know-how in the areas where you are less skilled so they can provide state of the art, intelligent, objective counsel at key moments.

Your Plan to Get the Job

Assess the Product

What are the strengths of Product You: How do they benefit a company, a team, a particular industry? What is the market readiness of Product You? Does the product need upgrading, that is, new skills, a new look, a new package?

Assess the Market

 Which industries are doing the hiring and what kinds of talent are they looking for? Who are the key influencers in those industries and how do you reach them? At what industry conference might Product You showcase its unique skills and insight via a presentation, booth presence, or by seeking out key influencers for an informal lunch? How can Product You be seen by as many people as possible so they can start the buzz, talking about the benefits of Product You and providing testimonials about its value?

Marketing Strategy

Does Product You need some new packaging (wardrobe, haircut, teeth whitening, etc?). If so, get it done. A product’s first impression is made in the first seven seconds of contact. That’s way before the potential buyer ever gets to experience the benefit of using the product. Do your leave-behinds need an upgrade? How about your business cards? In your bag, is there one well-presented page about the product’s greatest accomplishments, mentioning maybe a few positive testimonials, and, without a doubt, a flawless and impactful resume and cover letter?

Especially crucial in today’s competitive climate is to be sure that the product’s online presence is attractive and consistent. Besides deploying the many available top notch social networks (get a social networking pro to show you the ropes on Facebook and Twitter), you might want to invest in producing a webpage about Product You where a complete list of your accomplishments, education, and goals appears and perhaps even include a video testimonial from a former employee or boss.

Once we know the product is ready for market, let’s find venues for Product You to be seen and heard. This includes networking with family, friends, colleagues, and connecting with senior management contacts who are connected and may know of job opportunities. It also means actively using your professional Facebook page, Linked-In page and your trade organization blogs and outreaches, and emphasizing some wit and professional insightfulness that brands your product uniquely. And as mentioned in the “Access the Market” tips, it also means strategically attending conferences and industry events of your prospective ”buyers.”

Sales Strategy

Marketing can get you in the right door but it’s the well thought-out sale that closes the deal. Great salespeople are great listeners. They listen 80% of the time and talk 20%. The key is to consider every question as an opportunity to show empathy and insight  about your "buyer’s" issues. Great salespeople know the purchasing company they are dealing with inside and out and have a good lead on the person that is in front of them (thanks Google). A successful salesperson tracks her contacts with a prospect and notes the steps agreed in moving to the sale, so you must use the same tracking approach for Product You. Keep an objective distance, cultivate patience, and like a great golf swing, do not forget the follow-through. Follow up each meeting with a handwritten note on memorable stationery and say something meaningful that makes a connection and builds a forward relationship. Moreover, remember, every meeting, in every venue, is an interview. So much communication today is filtered through impersonal technology— cut through the filter and be remembered. Be strategic, intelligently persistent, and do not take rejection personally, just professionally move on to the next prospect and work your plan…until you land the job you want. Now what?

Transition Strategy: The First 100 Days

Once hired, what will the first 100 days be like? How will the product immediately serve the company? How will you ensure that your "purchaser" has no buyer’s remorse and is motivated to support, utilize, and eventually promote Product You? Show results out of the gate by studying your purchaser’s issues long before you gain access to the gate. Go for the low-hanging fruit, see where the early wins are and make them happen. Just be certain you gain your supervisor’s approval before you execute your 100-Day plan. You don’t want to be the new kid in the game who stepped on everyone’s toes without realizing it. Show awareness and sensitivity in addition to a relentless pursuit of early success.

Most important, prethink, preplan, and develop a strategy for how Product You will make the transition back into the extraordinary human being who performs with character and excellence in the everyday crucible of human relationships that are always more complex, nuanced, and difficult than when you first looked at them from outside the door.

About the Author(s)

Sander Flaum is principal of Flaum Navigators (www.flaumnavigators.com), chairman and founder of the Fordham Leadership Forum, Fordham Graduate School of Business; and author of Big Shoes…How Successful Leaders Grow Into New Roles.