Rule No 7 – marshal and connect with your contacts. You already have three lists (see Rule No 2). Now is the time for a very careful and thoughtful appraisal of them. Key players are List 1 – the people from who you will seek advice. Your objectives are:
[a] to get informed, independent views about your eligibility for another job and what kind of job that is. Mid-career changes may involve a change of industry, skills, prospects, lifestyle.
[b] to provide you with introductions to people who have suitable jobs for you.
[c] to announce the fact – if appropriate – that you are available to be hired.
List 1 contacts may have a job for you but if you use them primarily for that you are wasting good contacts. The best contacts are those who give you better contacts. Your reach to your three contact lists has to be carefully thought through. Never approach anyone with a request for a job. It puts them in an impossible position. They could not say yes without a lot of due diligence. In the process they will appear to be about to make an offer only to renege on it. Ask advice about how your career should progress. People cannot resist giving advice. Some of it will be useful and if there is a potential job this is when it will emerge.
I put connecting with your own contacts first because this is where the best jobs come from. You will consider using social media and even answering advertisements, though this last is usually a waste of time. Social media are important today but you have to handle them carefully if you are to avoid unreliable connections or the impression that you lack Executive Presence. Social media bristle with adjectives but you should avoid using hyperbole. Stick to facts. Keep very good records of how you use your contacts and what response you get from them. Hopefully you won’t have to use them again for a while but building the network is a lifelong job. If you wait until you need it, it will be too late.
Rule No 8 is about how you approach your contacts. Never send a CV by itself. CVs have fallen into disrepute ever since so many of them, even among very senior people in jobs of public trust, were found to be false. Better an understated truth than an overstated lie.
The email or letter to List 1 contacts must be written individually every time. ‘Repeat’ missives get ignored without a reply. You must relate to the individual but not waffle. You choose your own words or they will sound false. If I was writing to a List 1 contact I would probably say “Dear Fred, I am looking for a job and would greatly appreciate half an hour with you to get some helpful advice about how I might develop my career. You have known me for a while and I respect your views above most people’s. What I need to decide now is where I ought to be going. May I come and have a coffee with you?” This may appear to be somewhat blunt approach. Most busy people appreciate it. Whatever you do do not start “How are things with you?” It sounds like you are begging for meal.
Marshaling your contacts and approaching them correctly is vital if they are to be useful.
Our next Daily Paradox will deal with the all-important interview. Most interviews are appalling; it is your job to make yours excellent.