How to Find a Job on Today’s Market? A 15 Step Framework
It’s Kunal here, Founder of the Career Accelerator, CEO of KCSM, ex-COO, ex-VP, ex-Director, Hiring Manager for the Fortune 100 and MBA from a Top 5 Global Business School. In today’s post, I’d like to lay out a framework for the job search process. Specifically, I’d like to list out 15 steps that if you start following, I believe you should start seeing success right away.
A few questions to get started:
1. Have you ever felt that you have been stuck in a job rut in your life, doing the same things again and again and not knowing where your career is going?
2. Have you ever tried to make a change, tried applying to several jobs online, possibly tried to reach out to people on LinkedIn only to never hear back?
3. Have you wondered why there are some folks who are able to take their careers all the way to the “next level” becoming executives and getting promotion after promotion regularly and then there are some others who are pretty much stuck in a job rut, only going to work for the sake of a paycheck?
If you fall into one of these categories then this post if for you. So, with that background out of the way, let’s get directly into the post.
The Inbound Outbound Job Search Strategy Organized into 15 Steps
I’ve created something known as the inbound outbound strategy, that lays out a framework with specific steps that you can do to find a job in today’s market. Once we go through the inbound outbound strategy, I’ll talk about how the strategy is organized into 15 steps that you can start applying one after the other immediately.
In order to find a job in today’s market, I recommend considering two high level strategies.
1. Inbound – This strategy involves creating your profiles and positioning yourself in a way that you can be sought after when it comes to the job search process. This means hiring managers seek you, recruiters seek you, recruiting agencies seek you.
2. Outbound – This strategy involves you finding companies, decision makers, opportunities and taking control of the job search process in your own hands.
If these two strategies are combined, both effects work together in unison and opportunities start coming by your desk. It is then your job to convert those opportunities into real job offers. Let’s look at these two strategies in detail now.
The Inbound Job Search Strategy
As a reminder, the Inbound job search strategy is all about you positioning yourself in a way that you are a thought leader in your field. You create a brand and a story for yourself that will signify to others that you are the person we should be hiring into the company. The goal is to get sought after by all the players in the industry – recruiters, hiring managers, recruiting agencies.
Here are the steps you should do to execute on the Inbound Job Search Strategy.
1. Start by “Preparing your Story”
Your story consists of the following:
1. Where are you today?
2. Where do you want to go?
3. What have you done so far to take you from where you are to where you want to go?
4. What value can you add/Why you?
Students and Professionals ready to get back into the job market, should be crystal clear on their story. This requires some reflection on your part to answer the 3 questions I’ve outlined here. But once these questions are answered and you are clear on your career path, the conversation gets a lot easier.
2. Deliver your Story in Person
Once you have your story prepared you need to be ready to deliver your story. This is the elevator pitch of the 4 questions that you should’ve already answered. Prepare two versions of your delivery – one a two-minute version and the other a 30 second version where you can outline the 4 points discussed in this section. Your story is key as you start the job search process. Your story is a great conversation starter, specifically with hiring managers as it clearly not only talks about YOU, but also what YOU can bring to the organization.
Note that the delivery of the story here is different from when you asked about the same question in the interview process. There is a different format when discussing your story in the interview process, which we will discuss in other blog posts.
3. Deliver your Story in Other Formats
Now that you have your story, it’s time to deliver your story in other formats namely your resume, your website, your LinkedIn profile, your cover letter etc. etc. Note how this is different from how we normally think about all these different platforms. At the end of the day, all these platforms say the same thing – your story, but they say it differently.
When I read your resume, I should still be able to get answers to the same 4 questions discussed in this post, however the format of delivery is different. The same is the case with your cover letter or your LinkedIn profile. Anyone reading it should be crystal clear on where you are now, where you want to go, what have you done so far to bring you to where you are and what value you can add to your future organization.
a. Create your Website
A great way for you to be sought after regularly is by creating and maintaining your website. Through a website, you can showcase your work, your brand and give answers to the 4 questions as part of your story with easy. A website is like an automated recruiting machine. That combined with step # 4 – Become a Thought Leader, can certainly accentuate your results of getting opportunities by your plate.
b. Create your LinkedIn Profile
Next is to create a strong LinkedIn profile. This is another avenue that can be used to tell your story. However, the difference here is that your story can be a lot more aspirational as compared to your resume. Additionally, it can be written in the first person and there is no length constraint as compared to a resume. Also, you can take advantage of having a strong summary statement describing your story in detail. An important point for your LinkedIn profile is to ensure that you have all portions of it complete and professionally done to ensure that you show up in all relevant searches for the position you are looking to get into.
c. Create your Resume
Then comes your resume – another platform to deliver your story. The difference between a resume and other formats is exactly that – It has a certain format that you’ll need to adhere to. The basic format for each bullet in your resume should be as follows:
What did you achieve? The actual outcome of your work.
How did you achieve it? The process you used to achieve it.
A big mistake that candidates make as part of their resume is that it is normally backward looking and not forward looking. I ready tons of resumes everyday as part of my job as a hiring manager and the theme is consistent. I don’t know where do you want to go and what value you can add my organization. That’s exactly what I seek – Why you? How can you help me solve my organization’s problems?
The second mistake that candidates make is that fail to highlight the outcome of their work. Did you reduce costs, did you increase revenues, did you save time, did you improve quality, did you improve efficiency? As a hiring manager, I do care about what you did, but only after I know what results you achieved. The results you achieved in your previous organization is an indicator to me that you will be able to achieve similar results for my organization. Thereby, indicating to me the value you can bring me.
d. Create your Cover Letter
Now it’s time for your cover letter. Think about the cover letter in the same light as your story. It is once again only a different format to say the same thing. The cover letter should also contain the same components of your story, however here is a format that I recommend.
The Introductory paragraph - Introduce yourself and create a compelling hook
The Middle paragraph(s) - Target the letter to the company and the job
The Closing paragraph – Create a call to action
Use this format, but remember that your story needs to come out clearly as part of the cover letter too. In fact, when the cover letter is used in combination with the resume, your website and other online profiles, you are still stating your story, but now in different ways – some formal, some informal, but the reader or the listener should get a clear sense of who you are, what value you can add and what you can bring to the table.
e. Create Other Online Profiles
A big mistake many candidates make is to think that they have a professional brand and a separate personal brand. This in my opinion is incorrect. At the end of the day, your brand is your brand. This is clearly seen when you have a professional LinkedIn profile, but an extremely unprofessional Twitter or Facebook profile. One suggestion I would make is that when you are going through the job search process, do make sure that all your profiles are professionally maintained.
This means removing any posts or videos that might raise red flags – related to profanity, nudity, foul language or anything else that might cause your future employer to raise his or her eyebrow.
4. Become a Thought Leader
# 4 is all about thought leadership. I believe this is extremely important in today’s day and age, a day and age that is social in nature, a day and age that is global, virtual and becoming more and more competitive. What does thought leadership really mean? Thought leadership is nothing but “Putting content out there regularly that relates to your future industry, position and/or companies”. This content could take several forms. Here are examples of how you can put yourself out there a lot more:
1. Start by becoming an expert – which means start reading books, take certifications, do more courses and/or online trainings in your field.
2. Then create your own perspective on your topics and publish content. You can use the following platforms to publish your content:
a. Use LinkedIn to write blog articles.
b. Write articles on other platforms such as medium, quora, and/or your website.
c. Start public speaking at conferences and/or universities associated with your company. Go ask them whether you can go to a conference and represent the company.
d. If you are NOT part of an association, go become part of one. Then try to speak at the associations.
e. Regularly share quality content related to your niche on social media – specially LinkedIn, Facebook and Twitter. Start engaging in the right groups, forums, threads and let yourself be known.
I know some of you might find it hard to put yourself out there. My suggestion to you is this – “Don’t Fear. Just be confident and put yourself out there. No one is really judging you. Frankly people don’t have the time and don’t care. But for those who do care like recruiters, hiring managers and others, your content will prove to become a good deal for you in the future”.
The Outbound Job Search Strategy
Now we’re going to talk about the outbound job search strategy. Remember that this strategy is all about you reaching out and taking control of your job search in your own hands. The strategy has the following steps:
1. Find Target Companies – Companies that are hiring (but may not have a position available) or companies that specifically have a position available open.
2. Find Decision Makers – Find people in these companies who are likely to make a hiring decision.
3. Send them your value proposition letter.
4. Follow up.
This strategy is the essence of tapping into the hidden job market. So, let’s look at these in detail:
1. How to Find Target Companies?
Target companies are companies that you want to get a job at. How do you find these target companies? There are 3 approaches that I recommend:
a. Find Growing Companies – These movers and shaker companies are ones that potentially may be hiring. So, for example – companies that have just been acquired or companies are about to and just gone public or companies that have merged or companies that have raised a new round of funding or companies that have a new CEO or a new department head. All these companies indicate the need to change their organization and so most likely they will be making tons of changes internally and open a bunch of positions.
How do you find these companies? You can use Google Alerts and set up an alert to alert you each morning about what’s going on in your industry and/or geographical location.
For example, you can setup alerts as follows:
• Growing Industries+Denver Colorado
• Medical Device+Corporate Expansions
• Consumer Goods+Acquisitions
• Growing Companies+Houston, Texas
• Private Equity Firms+Real Estate Portfolios
• IOT (internet of things) (just put the keyword in and see what happens!)
• Technology Companies+Growth+California
Then each morning as you grab coffee, you can prepare your list of target companies, ones that are growing.
Note and this is important – Companies don’t need to have a position listed on their website or somewhere to be a Target Company. They simply must be a Mover or Shaker of some sort. The changes that they will hire is very high.
b. A second approach you can use is to setup an alert as part of a job board. In my case I prefer an aggregator job board like indeed.com. The reason is that indeed will aggregate all the jobs on the internet into one simple email and will give you a snapshot each morning. Then just like you did in the previous step, you can pick out the companies that make sense and add them to your target list. Please note that I’ve not asked you to apply to the position. Simply add the target company and make a note of the position they are hiring for. Do not apply to the company.
c. A final third technique is using Google Maps. Using this technique, you can look for opportunities locally in your area. Simply go to google maps and put in your search terms and you should see several different companies prop up. Again, add the ones you’d be interested to work in into your target list of companies.
2. How to Find Decision Makers?
Once you’ve got a solid pipeline of target companies, the next step is to find decision makers in those companies. How do you find these decision makers?
Find people 2 – 3 levels above you – these are likely going to hiring you. For example: If you are an Entry to mid-level engineer.
You can find out who the:
· VP of Engineering is
· Chief Engineer is
· Engineering Design Manager is
· Company President is
Where do I find these decision makers?
It depends upon where you got the lead, but some general:
- Company website
- General Google Search
- Paid resources
Big Picture – In today’s online day and age there should be NO reason for you to NOT find your decision maker ASAP.
3. Sending them your Value Proposition Letter
Once you know who the decision maker is, you should send them your value proposition letter. What is the value proposition letter? A Value Proposition Letter or VPL is nothing but a very short cover letter that states to the decision maker what value you bring to the organization. It’s a direct statement of why they should hire you and what you bring to their table. The VPL is very value and outcome driven, so it’s important to ensure that you can clearly state your value in your value proposition letter.
How do you send the Value Proposition letter to the decision maker? Here are three approaches:
1. Direct Mail Them.
2. Email Them.
3. Send Them a LinkedIn in mail.
In my experience the best approach is to direct mail them. As an executive, if you get a physical mail from someone trying to explain why you should be hiring them, you’re sure to possibly reach back out. Of course, if you can’t direct mail, then email is the next best and then a message on LinkedIn. However, Direct Mail works. Just imagine if it’s your birthday and if someone sends you a physical card versus an email versus a Facebook message. You are likely to feel your best when you get a physical card in the mail. Don’t underestimate the human element of the process and a physical letter can do wonders.
Here is a sample VPL that I’ve used in the past:
Kunal Chopra, MBA
Redmond, WA, 98053 | 425.281.3566 | firstname.lastname@example.org | LinkedIn
[salute] [first] [last]
[city], [state] [zipcode]
Dear [salute] [last]:
Are you looking for a COO to help you drive operational growth and profitability?
Throughout my career, I’ve held high-impact COO and VP roles that empowered growth-centric technology companies to achieve rapid revenue growth, generate cost savings, boost global market share, and create efficiencies.
A few specifics include:
- Drove 15% YOY business growth.
- Took operating loss to 20% EBITDA improvement.
- Cut overall operational costs by 50%.
If you would like to achieve similar results, I’d like the opportunity to speak to you. Although my total compensation is in north of $200,000, my primary focus is to help take a small to mid-sized B2C/B2B tech company to its next level of success.
Please call and let's explore your opportunities.
Kunal Chopra, MBA
P.S. I am known for leveraging business strategy and tactical execution to achieve business success. To learn more about my achievements please see the enclosed/attached resume.
4. Following Up
Then you’ve got to follow up regularly, every week. If you get no response, then try to find another contact in the company and send them your value proposition letter.
Note that even if you see a position in the company, you should send your VPL to the decision maker. There is a high change that if your profile meets the bar, the decision maker will either reach out to you or forward your profile over to the right person.
Conclusion – The 15 Steps
So to summarize the entire process, I’ve listed out 15 steps that you should follow into your career in the order described to ensure that you execute on the Inbound Outbound strategy. The reason the order is important is because for example. You don’t want to reach out to a decision maker before your Story and Website is done. Making sense?
I’d like to end by wishing you all the best for your career and I have no doubt that if you follow the steps listed out here, you will be able to find NOT a job, but your Dream Career. I wish you all the best.
Kunal Chopra, MBA