Hi, Joan. Thank you for inviting me. There is an old saying "give a man a fish and you feed him for a day, teach him how to fish and you will feed him for life." This is the core of our business proposition. We work with young adults to teach them the skills of the job search process which will last them a lifetime. Becoming proficient in these skills will permit our clients to develop their own resumes, cover letters, elevator speeches, branding, search strategies, networking strategies and effective interviewing practices throughout their work career. In addition, many young adults are struggling with career choice. We work with them to identify a career that reflects their personality traits, core values, strengths and passions.
That all sounds great, David! The state of the economy these days certainly doesn't make it any easier for newly minted college grads, does it?
No, it does not. First, the number of job applicants far exceeds the number of job openings making it a very competitive job market. Because of this, most job openings are not publicly posted. Second, most recent college graduates have a very strong on-line presence which can be a mixed blessing. The upside is their potential to use social media, personal websites and other on-line applications in their job search. The downside is that many of them restrict their search to the on-line job boards which is very ineffective due to the sheer volume of applicants on the on-line job boards. Also, as I stated earlier, most job openings are not posted there.
Give us an idea of how you work with your clients. Can you walk us through a game plan for an average college grad?
The process begins with a customized assessment to measure the client's readiness to engage in the job search process. Its personalized indicators identify both strengths and weaknesses and determine which components of the process (personal marketing, networking, job search and interviewing) require the most focus. We use a building block approach so the specific order that we address each element or component in the process is important.
The first element of the process, personal marketing, is accomplished by identifying the individual's strengths, accomplishments, and skill set. From this, we ascertain what makes them unique or stand out from the competition. This allows us to develop their marketing material (brand, elevator speech, resume, on line presence, business card, and brochures).
Next, we develop a comprehensive search strategy, identifying the hidden job market. It's comprehensive because it's moving beyond the on-line job boards that most young adults are comfortable with.
Although there are several alternatives to the job boards, by far the most effective is networking. Similar to the search strategy, the networking strategy needs to be comprehensive. Key elements of the networking strategy to remember:
- It's a reciprocal relationship. It's not about asking for favors.
- It's not about the number of connections you have, but developing relationships.
- Social Media, especially LinkedIn, is a very effective method for identifying someone inside a target company.
The last element is preparing for the interview. We work with our clients to maximize those elements of the interview that they can control. The basics include what to wear, questions to ask, and follow-up. We also work with our clients to articulate their competitive advantages confidently. This is accomplished by developing narratives from the marketing material and practice them until they become second nature. It's also important to extract the key requirements from the job postings and be able to express how they satisfy or exceed them.
Typically, how many sessions does it take?
Joan, there is not a direct answer to this question. The number of sessions depends on two things. First is the output of the assessment. How many of the four components is the client competent in? Do they have a solid resume? Are they getting interviews? Are they active networkers with a strong LinkedIn profile? Or are they starting from scratch? Second is the motivation of the client. If they are motivated and willing to work hard between coaching sessions, the overall number of session will be greatly reduced. I wish I could give you a more definitive answer, but there are too many variables here.
What do your clients know afterward that they didn't know before?
Great question! As I said earlier, the core of our business proposition is not just the output of the four critical elements discussed above, but the ability of our clients to become proficient in these skills throughout their work career.
It doesn't sound as if the skill set you help clients develop should be limited to recent grads. We can all benefit from these skills, especially in challenging economic times. So, is the bottom line thatwe shouldn't give up? Any last words of advice for our readers, David?
We focused on the skills required for a successful job search, but it's equally important to address physical and emotional well being during this stressful time. It's easy to become discouraged during an extended job search. Maintaining a healthy balance between the steps involved in the job search process with physical and social activity will help to maintain a positive outlook.
Thank you so much for talking with me, David. And yes, the job search can certainly be fraught with stress. Success to you and your clients as they develop useful, lifelong skills and land a job in a tough market.