Let me tell you about the best possible problem to have in your job search.
You know exactly what you want in your next role.
You know the priorities you are looking for in your future employer.
You’ve developed some warm introductions and relationships with individuals who work at an organization that intrigues you.
In fact, you’ve even spoken to several people who work there, and have validated that the company would be a fantastic fit for your strengths and your priorities. This would be a mutually beneficial opportunity for both parties.
But then…what’s next?
How do you confidently evolve the relationship and open up an opportunity for yourself without feeling like a sleazy used car salesman?
If you’re lucky enough to be struggling with this exact dilemma, today’s episode of the Happen to Your Career Podcast is for you.
One of our Career Change Bootcamp students, Laura, sent us this question:
“I’m really interested in a particular company and I’ve now spoken to four people who work there. I’ve gotten really good at being genuinely interested in learning about roles and companies without actually “asking” anything…But now I want the job… so how do I graciously and not awkwardly shift the conversation from tell me about what you do, to… you should hire me because?” – Laura
Dimensionalizing your relationship with contacts at a company can take some elegance and finesse — you definitely don’t want to change the vibe from being “exploratory and chill” to “hungry and aggressive.”
You didn’t get your spouse to marry you by turning on the intense “lifelong commitment” conversation laser beams on date #2, did you?
Take the same approach in slowly and gracefully evolving your relationship with strategic contacts. Instead of putting desperate “hire me” energy out there, you want to treat them like a partner and trusted advisor.
Imagine how differently these two conversations feel:
“Hey Mike: I had a great time talking with you about your experience working at Facebook. But I’ll level with you: the only reason I’m actually here is to get a job. So, how do we make that happen?”
“Hey Mike: I had a great time talking with you about your experience working at Facebook. Thanks again for making the time! Your candid perspective on the challenges of the work-life balance and how you’re able to make it work was incredibly helpful, and upon reflection, I could really see myself thriving in a work hard, play hard environment like that. One of the things I’ve gotten great at over the years is efficiently taking care of my stakeholders so they get what they need without my needing to be online 24/7. I’d love your perspective on what next steps I ought to take to make working at a great company like Facebook a possibility for me one day.”
Notice that there are such subtle differences in the approach, but each communication creates a different set of possibilities — and different likelihood that Mike is going to hook you up.
After all, everyone is willing to do more to help someone they know, like and trust than someone who rubs them the wrong way.
To break down what worked or didn’t work in the above mock conversations so you can replicate it for yourself, here are the key principles of deepening that conversation, along with some sample pieces of language straight from the episode that you can use to dimensionalize your relationship with a potential future employer and make it mutually beneficial for both of you:
Lead with gratitude:
“Hey I really appreciate you making the time for me the other day. I learned a lot about your role.”
Follow-up with a specific compliment that highlights shared values:
“I loved ABC about your organization.”
“I had a conversation with you a few days ago, and I enjoyed it and I can see working with you.”
“I really appreciate your sense of humor and how you talk about your employees and that clearly they matter to you. That shows and is a big deal to me too. I found myself realizing after I left the conversation that I would be excited to find out how I can work with you. Or at least exploring what that can look like.”
Treat them like a partner in your mission to find an opportunity that fits:
“I know you have roles open now. I don’t know if they are a perfect fit but I’d love to ask your advice. After meeting me and understanding what I’m after and great at, I’d love your perspective about what I should do if I want to work with you. I think it would be a ton of fun on your team and what you have lines up with what I’m looking for, which is ABC.”
“What do you believe I should do here? How do you think that could look?”
“From your position, I know you have roles open and I’m really interested working with you and your company. I was coming into the conversations trying to figure out what would be a great fit for me, and I am enamored at this point and I think it would be a ton of fun to work here. What advice would you give me? How could it be possible?”
Affirm you heard what they need and confirm your past experiences that show you can help:
“One of the things I did in my past roles I absolutely loved was being able to take the customer situations and turn them around to double our revenue with those particular other customer organizations. I love that, it sounds like what I would be doing, and it was one of the most fun parts of my job.”
“Let me know what you think. I’m looking forward to hearing your perspective.”
“Thanks in advance for your advice — would love to know your thoughts!”
Want to ask a question and be featured in a future podcast episode? Record your question at Happentoyourcareer.com/vm
Curious about our flagship program that’s helped hundreds of people just like you to clarify what you want in your work, and equip you with the tools and tactics to get it? Check out Career Change Bootcamp at Happentoyourcareer.com/lp/career-change-bootcamp/
Listen to our podcast episode on communicating effectively and with confidence with The Art of Charm’s AJ Harbinger at Happentoyourcareer.com/what-brene-brown-and-the-art-of-charm-have-in-common/
Ready to find the work that fits you? Go to FigureItOut.co to get started.
Transcript from Episode
Scott Barlow: I don’t have a guest per se here on the podcast but I have something even better. I have a question we want to answer from one of our students from our Career Change Boot Camp, to help people make these massive career moves. I want to tell you a little about this question. First of all, this comes from someone doing a phenomenal job in our program named Laura.
Here is her question: She says, “I’m really interested in a particular company and I’ve now spoken to four people who work there. I spoke with someone this morning that has several job openings and is moving quickly to make the hires. I’ve gotten really good at being genuinely interested in learning about roles and companies without actually “asking” anything. (Anything from them I’m assuming is what she means). I’ve learned so much and was honestly not looking for a specific job or a recommendation during those conversations. But now I want the job… so how do I graciously and not awkwardly shift the conversation from tell me about what you do, and about yourself to… you should hire me because? Thanks, Laura.”
First of all, Laura, this is awesome. Great job going into these conversations with the mindset seeking to find out if the organization and people make the cut. This is a different mindset than most people because most of us have the tendency to say will this organization accept me and then we leave all the power to them. That is not a way to get what you want and a way to get the best fit. Kudos to you for looking at this differently than most people. And looking at it like you are doing the interviews and recruiting.
I know a little about Laura. She is looking for an organization and role to leverage the fun she has in understanding the psychology of human behavior and meeting that unmet need. Also a situation that allows her to create something tangible from her own ideas. She has done a lot of good work understanding what she wants and needs and what creates an ideal situation.
If you haven’t already done that I recommend you do whether it’s Career Change Boot Camp or getting started with the Eight Day Figure It Out mini course. Which you can go to Happentoyourcareer.com and click on the Eight Day Course or figureitout.co and get started.
When you are already in the situation and have done the good work, like Laura, you first need to know that you don’t need to convince them to hire you. Nobody wants to be sold. They want to make up their own mind. They don’t like walking on a used car lot where the person runs out to meet you dragging you all over the lot looking at sports cars when you came to look at minivans, or vice versa. Or going into the grocery store and you want avocados and the person who asks if they can help you leads you to the macadamia nuts and salad dressing but never to the avocados. That is annoying at best and not helping create a great relationship. No one wants to be sold. It isn’t our job to convince them to hire us it’s our job to create the situation where they want to make that decision on their own.
Some of the things that are more effective are creating a place where they already like and trust you. If you have already done that Laura we can move on. If you haven’t I wouldn’t twist it around to focus on hey, now I’m interested because you aren’t going to get far if they haven’t already decided they like you or get along with you or build a relationship with them, then it’s too much too fast.
It sounds like you have talked with a few different people and they have talked to you behind the scenes and I’m assuming they are making the time for you and continuing to talk because they like you and see potential. That has to be there first. You can help advance that by sending them a thank you note first. Not just email but handwritten. That causes you to stand out. People don’t get those. It might sit on their desk forever. Every time they turn around and look at it they remember you every day. That will help you stay top of mind and build relationship and have them know, like, and trust you.
The other reason I point it out is we hire people that we know and like. Even if it is not necessarily the perfect person with experience, education, or anything else for the role we have a tendency to justify and find a way why it would be better to hire the person we know like and trust and have a relationship versus someone with a great resume.
“I had a conversation with you a few days ago and think you have potential and I enjoyed it and I can see working with you.” That carries more weight than other things. As much as we like to think that we make the decisions based on objective facts we don’t. Its human nature and we are people making the decisions. There is one person in this case, Laura, who is doing the hiring or has the jobs available now. If you have done these things first and feel confident that the conversation has went well and they like you with the feedback and you have good vibes then you can move forward.
Probably the easiest and simplest way to move forward even if it doesn’t feel easy I would suggest picking up the phone and having a conversation with them. It will sound like: “Hey I really appreciate you making the time for me the other day. I learned a lot about your role. I loved ABC about your organization.” The next thing I’m going to do is share a personal compliment about something from them. Not their shirt or like that but as we talked about in the episode with AJ Harbinger what is more valuable is focusing on something that is at a value level, like “I really appreciate your sense of humor and how you talk about your employees and that clearly they matter to you. That shows and is a big deal to me too. I found myself realizing after I left the conversation that I would be excited to find out how I can work with you. Or at least exploring what that can look like. I know you have roles open now. I don’t know if they are a perfect fit but I’d love to ask your advice after meeting me and understand what I’m after and great at, love to ask your advice about what I should do if I want to work with you. I think it would be a ton of fun on your team and what you have lines up with what I’m looking for, which is ABC.”
That way it is real. That is something that is missing often from different conversations. Hey I think your organization is great, you are great. That is great. But it’s not real and effective. It doesn’t cut through everything. Be blatantly honest and strategic. You want to share what it is you have enjoyed. It’s coming from a real place.
Take them as a partner. You don’t want to cross the boundary into job seeker category. No good. If you go there it takes a great situation you’ve been building and leads it to you talking to the HR people and you are thrown out of the mix.
“I’m interested taking them as a partner and asking for advice. What do you believe I should do here? How do you think that could look? From your position, I know you have these roles open and I’m really interested working with you and your company. I didn’t think I would be. I was coming into the conversations trying to figure out what would be a great fit for me and I am enamored at this point and I think it would be a ton of fun to work here, what advice would you give me? How could it be possible?”
That allows you to be in the position of a partner. When you take them as a partner it’s a different dynamic. That is shared responsibility. It’s not me saying you can go back to skill and get another degree. It causes them to really think about it. If you are a partner you have a vested interest and will work harder to make it happen. It creates a different type of conversation. One where you are both focused on how it could be possible. How you could do it and what it could look like. That is a different conversation versus how do I apply or how do I work here. Any type of question forcing you to the back of the line to HR are no good. Focus on the partnership. I would do those things.
Another way to approach it is being able to flat out say I’m really interested in this position. And share why. I didn’t expect if but I do think this would be a lot of fun after I learned more about it and list the reasons why. That can overlap with your experience.
“One of the things I did in my past roles I absolutely loved was being able to take the customer situations and turn them around to double our revenue with those particular other customer organizations. I love that and it sound like what I would be doing and it was one of the most fun parts of my job.”
If I’m having that conversation it helps them understand what I enjoy. As humans we assume if we enjoy it we are good at it. It showcases what you have done in the past without it sounding salesy or weird or awkward.
Those are two ways you could approach it. Hope that helps out.
If you enjoyed this type of answer and question and you have questions for us head over to Happentoyourcareer.com/vm, like voicemail, and you can put your question in right there. It will ask you to press record. Say your name and ask your question. You might find it featured on a future episode of Happen to Your Career. Talk to you later. Adios.
Are you ready to find work that fits you? Then sign up for our eight day “Figure It Out” mini course to get clear on what you want in your new career. Find it at Figureitout.co.