How are you approaching your next job search? No matter how much technology impacts our lives and how we interact, there are still fundamental principles that will never change. Specifically, business is (and always will be) human and people will always do business with people they like and respect. Given those principles, here are my top four job search hacks:
1. Get in front of the key decision makers ANY way you can and show them you are not just a resume.
Goldman Sachs’ President and COO Gary Cohn was working as an aluminum siding salesman in Cleveland when he decided he NEEDED to work in financial markets. He spent an off day in Manhattan literally just waiting at the commodities exchange center trying to ask someone for a job. He saw an important looking man about to get in a cab and convinced him to share a ride. On the ride of a lifetime, Gary convinced this man he just met that he was hard-working and wanted an opportunity to work in the financial markets. Amazingly, Gary got the interview which eventually led to his financial services career. Instead of being at the most prestigious investment bank, Gary Cohn might have been stuck selling aluminum sidings if he didn’t have audacity to meet the key decision makers.
Back in 2009, I was looking for a job in private equity while the Great Recession was happening. I had spoken over the phone with a firm that I thought would be a great fit for me, but they didn’t feel the same way. I ended up booking a flight to visit them at their offices and emailed them when I landed saying “Hi — I’m around your area, want to meet for 15 minutes?” Looking back, I realize how crazy this was, but for some reason, the Managing Director took time to meet me. And even more bizarre, she really liked me and ended up giving me a job. I had beaten out Harvard and Stanford MBAs for a job because I put myself out there to meet the key decision maker.
2. Be AUDACIOUS — show your potential employers your abilities any way you can to separate yourself from your competition.
Rapper Big Sean got his big break when he approached Kanye West at his local hip hop radio station. He literally begged Kanye to let him rap some verses. Kanye finally relented and let him rap while Kanye walked to his car. And shall we say, the rest is history. Kanye saw that Big Sean had some potential and gave him his shot in the music industry. If Big Sean had submitted his mixtape in the mail I highly doubt he would be where he is now. He would’ve been lost among the sea of other talented rappers who were trying to make it in a super competitive industry.
My CEO, Keith Ferrazzi, became the CMO of Deloitte by age 29 because he was audacious. When he was an intern — an INTERN — he learned that the CEO of Deloitte wanted to transform the company to the levels of McKinsey, the gold standard for consulting. When Keith returned to school, he independently researched McKinsey’s growth strategy and submitted it to the CEO of Deloitte. After that, the CEO never forgot who Keith Ferrazzi was and ultimately not only convinced Keith to come back full-time but also became his mentor.
3. NEVER be afraid to cold email or cold call — it’s a great way to tell your story and more importantly, it’s surprisingly very effective.
I worked in the Strategic Planning Group at American Express which was a leadership development group at the company. To give you some perspective on how hard it was to get a job there, almost everyone was from Harvard or Wharton and had McKinsey/Bain/BCG type experience. I only got the job there because I had cold emailed someone who worked in the group who I eventually set up an introductory call with. I told her my story and explained why even though I didn’t fit the mold of the typical hire in the group, I think I could add value. It wasn’t until after I got the job I realized that the group had received literally over 150 resumes for 3 openings and I had secured one of those. I honestly believe I wouldn’t have gotten an interview even if I didn’t cold email that woman.
4. Don’t EVER give up on finding the right job.
Jim Gaffigan (a fellow Georgetown University alumnus!) is one of the hottest comedians right now, but most people don’t know he struggled for almost eight years in absolute obscurity. For eight years, he would go to work, then acting class, then standup comedy clubs to practice his art. It wasn’t until David Letterman brought him on his show that his career really took off. The same people who had just months earlier told him his comedy was awful now saw him as the next Jerry Seinfeld! The lesson is persistence counts and those grind it out tend to find success whether it’s the right job or anything else.
I’m a big believer in that people can create their own luck. I hope this article helps you just a little bit in creating your own luck in your job search. My email is firstname.lastname@example.org if you have any comments/thoughts.