Tis the season of meeting with many people looking for jobs. I am always happy to talk with new college grads, recent grads, people switching or returning to the nonprofit sector.
In talking with people during their time of transition, I usually try to cover four main areas in an effort to assess what stage they are at and how I might best be able to help. My meeting road map has four components:
1. Have they done their homework? As a starting place, serious job seekers need to do a combination of: (a) research possible careers through informational interviewing, shadowing, internships, externships and online research, (b) an assessment and inventory of their own talents, skills and goals, and (c) self-reflection to marry (a) and (b) to determine what fields and what positions they should seek.
2. Do they have the right tools in place? Tools include a professional resume and LinkedIn profile, a cover letter template, writing samples (if applicable), recommendations and a clean and professional social media presence.
3. Have they created a target employer list? Running a job search is a campaign, and job seekers need a database of target organizations based on geography, optimal size, titles/skills sought, connections, contacts etc. If they have one, I offer to review the list to see if I have helpful contacts.
4. Have they prepped and polished their story? I ask people to tell me their story. What brought them to this point? What is their personal mission? What doesn’t their resume tell? What is their unique value add? Why should an organization hire them over other qualified applicants? When looking for a job, you have to tell succinctly and memorably your story and make your campaign case!
Once I understand where a job seeker is at, I try to determine how I can best help them. Sometimes it is by sharing information about the field or an organization, connecting them to someone to shadow, working on their resume or LinkedIn profile, reviewing their database for possible connections or additions, or formulating and practicing their story with them. Sometimes it is just by asking the right questions.
I am always so impressed when people end our meeting with, “Are there other people you know with whom it would be beneficial for me to meet? Would you be willing to make an introduction?” Always a good sign.