Presenting Yourself to Get Interviews
There are three primary activities that you will undergo in your job search: Prospecting, Presenting and Following Up. The Presenting aspect of your job search will take on many forms. You may be presenting yourself in a one-on-one or group meeting. Or, it could be that you are delivering your elevator speech to a new person you met at the grocery store. Either way, you are selling yourself and presenting the value you bring to the marketplace so it pays to be prepared. It is really important that you understand the various types of settings in which you may present yourself and how to handle these encounters. Ultimately, we want to ensure that they lead to the ultimate presentation – A Personal Interview.
Meeting vs. Interview
Let’s take a moment to clarify the difference between a meeting and an interview. A meeting is a mutual exchange of information designed to achieve a pre-defined purpose. The person calling the meeting clearly states the objective and directs the agenda to achieve the desired outcome. As you reconnect with you network and let them know you are in a job search, you will be soliciting and scheduling meeting so it is up to you to direct the meeting outcome.
Interviews are meetings called by potential employers for the express purpose of screening candidates for employment. You may stumble into an interview while trying to schedule a meeting, but the company is in control of the agenda in an interview and that agenda is focused on assessing your qualifications and suitability for employment at their company.
Start with your existing network
Start the presentation process with Trial Run meetings with a few trusted people in your immediate network. These meetings are intended to get you back into networking and get a little constructive critique in the process. In these meetings you are to reconnect with trusted people in your network. Lead with your job search marketing plan, not your resume, to direct the meeting and clearly communicate what you are looking for.
Networking/Group Meetings are meetings that can have anywhere from 5 to 500 people in them. They are usually sponsored by an association or organization. You may be addressing one person or a small group in a social or professional setting. The objective here is to share your elevator speech and clearly communicate who you are, what you do, and what you are seeking. Your goal is to develop new contacts and target companies with the potential outcome of these turning into job opportunities. You should try to connect with as many new contacts as possible during any one networking event. Use your group meetings to identify valuable contacts in your job search and follow up by scheduling one-on-one meetings.
One-on-one meetings are exactly what the name implies. These are meetings that you schedule with an individual either on the phone, at their office, or in a public setting. The one-on-one meeting is more personal and allows you to go into greater detail about your story. Depending on the context of the meeting, you may share your marketing plan or you may simply talk through your job search objectives. Either way, the objective is to present yourself, share your story, and tell the other person what you do and what you are looking for. Once again the goals in a one-on-one meeting are the same, get leads to new contacts and target companies. The difference here is that a one-on-one meeting provides you with a greater opportunity to connect with the other person. Therefore, these meetings stand a better chance of leading to a next step such as a referral to another valuable contact.
Do some research about the person with whom you are connecting or re-connecting. This helps you build rapport and ask intelligent questions about their current position and company. Remember, be a good listener. Once you have connected, share your story and what you are looking for and don’t be shy about asking for leads. This is one of the primary purposes of the meeting and they know it.
Phone interviews are classically used to screen candidates for job interviews. You may have come to the interviewer’s attention through an application process or direct recommendation. They will most likely have seen your resume and this interview serves as an opportunity to connect on a more direct level.
If you have a phone interview scheduled make sure you practice your “So, Tell Me About Yourself” speech and “Success Stories.”
This is a chance to present your personality and attitude. The interviewer is listening for the attributes that could indicate that you could be a good fit for the role and company culture. Interviewers are listening for good communication skills, the ability to establish rapport and a positive attitude.
Understanding the purpose of each of these opportunities to present yourself and how they can lead to getting actual job interviews is critical to the success of your search. Prepare for each opportunity and project a positive attitude for optimal success.
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