Top 5 Bad Strategies for Starting a Job Search

I have seen lots of really bad outreach messages over the years, but the ones that really stick with me are when a candidates are attempting to build a relationship with our firm and decide to take, well… let’s just say ‘a different approach’. Using any of the following strategies will guarantee your chance of making that all-so-important good first impression is usually dead on arrival. In no particular order, these are some of my favorites:

Dear ‘Undisclosed Recipients’- A huge shout-out to those job-seekers who think they will get anyone’s attention with this (very) bad tactic. It actually takes the least amount of effort to accomplish and just screams that your efforts were “quick and dirty” . Clearly you prefer to use a shotgun approach instead of one more precision-focused to help you find your next gig. DELETE button, please…

iPhone Teaser Message– A tactic truly blows me away, this (really) bad plan does not include much thought at all. It’s a simple message that goes something like this – “I am a very knowledgeable healthcare CIO with multiple advanced degrees who may be interested in a new opportunity. I prefer the eastern shore but would consider the SE.” Really?! This took no effort, had no resume attached and was probably sent while this future candidate was killing time at a red light. The best part is usually the arrogant signature:

Sam Smart, PhD, MBA, MHA
Sent from my iPhone
Excuse all typos
(C’mon… Do you really think I am going to call you?)

Spelling and Grammar– Basic, right? Some really smart people elect not to press the little Spelling and Grammar icon (you know the one I’m talking about), which I just can’t understand. They say first impressions are everything – maybe for some but not for all. Of course, when I read an e-mail or a letter riddled with spelling errors I immediately disengage. I will click the delete button in a nanosecond! Every time!

No Industry Expertise– And I mean NONE. Dear Sir: (ok, it even starts out bad) I have extensive expertise in the automotive retail marketplace…. OK -Why, may I ask, are you sending me this note? No planning went into this strategy. Candidates should create a list of people who specialize in their market niche, and not waste their time or the time of the recipient of their poorly thought-out plan to just arbitrarily send correspondence to a search consultant with no knowledge of the industry they specialize in. Just bad. Really bad.

No Resume – It is embarrassing to read (usually poorly written) e-mails from candidates who attempt to convey their career success in a one or two paragraph e-mail. If you want to get someone’s attention this is (again) a very bad plan. Not sending a resume (generally speaking) will not even count as a base hit. And forget about rounding 2nd. Unless you are really famous this one never works.

First impressions really do matter and in any initial outreach to engage in finding a new home you must put forth a little more effort. Just a little.

Always Listen Before Speaking

It’s crazy to be writing on this topic as this issue is all about something we learned as kids – hopefully from a very early age. Some call it etiquette, while others just refer to it as “good manners.” Whatever you call it – make sure you’re practicing the art of listening and hesitating before you start interrupting anyone during a conversation – especially during an interview. Let them finish their thought and wait for a break of silence before jumping in. Interruptions are just plain rude and sends all kinds of mixed messages to a potential hiring manager. C’mon people – get in the game.

For some of us, we just can’t help ourselves. Our brain is already spinning with ideas and thoughts we feel we must “blurt out” before we forget what’s on the tip of our tongues, while others just like to take charge and drive the conversation. They need the floor! Whatever your reasons or excuses are for interrupting someone during an interview or raising your voice and decibel level to make a point – you’re downgrading your value each time you exhibit that sort of behavior. It’s akin to a loudmouth door-to-door sales guy who wants to sell you something before he knows what your needs are. Not good.

Develop your own technique to delay that urge to interrupt if you just can’t control your urge to barge in on someone during a conversation or an interview. If you can’t help yourself, at least use your manners. I coach candidates on pivoting all the time, especially when I detect or experience interruptions during our interview. Let the person finish their sentence – wait 2-3 seconds to gather your thoughts before responding to a question or adding to the conversation. It’s really not that hard, but you’d be very surprised at the number of very well paid professionals who just don’t get it. They’re too busy trying to finish sentences for the people they’re talking with or attempting a “one-up” by having a more interesting or compelling story to tell.

The basic rule of thumb here gets back to my first point – just remember what your parents said when you were a young child: it’s rude to interrupt. Your parents were correct – it is rude!

Keeping Your Emotions in Check During a Job Search

Originally posted on Healthcare Informatics

Let’s face it – we all like to win. It’s part of how most of us are wired and for some of us – it becomes a score-card. Losing is, well, never fun. Especially – when your emotions are in play during a job search. You go through the entire interview process, meet your (potential) future boss and members of the search committee (some include employees you will likely manage). It feels right and you feel very good about the entire situation. All you need now is for the phone to ring to let you know – you won!

Yep – just if you could only get the offer out of the way you could begin planning for your new job, environment and a fresh start. Mentally you are there. It’s sort of like counting your strokes in golf – standing on the green just before you make that final putt. And then you miss. oops!

The phone rings and you can hear the word I’m SORRY but…in the callers tone. “I’d like to thank you for your time” blah, blah, blah – but my client has decided to move forward with another candidate. You freeze. Mentally you are saying to yourself – WHAAAAT? How could that be? We connected in every way and they liked me. I don’t understand. WHY is the next question? All of the sudden your emotions take a different turn and you need to be careful on how you handle the news.

Make sure you think about the following before you react to the news:

Relationships Matter – You have a natural tendency to become upset with the search consultant that you have been working with. Don’t. Trust me – it’s not their fault. The employer (hiring manager and the interview team) decides who wins and who does not. You don’t want to burn a bridge with the search firm by displaying your emotions. They will either call you back on the next opportunity – or they won’t. I recommend you keep strong relationships with people that are genuinely trying to advance your career. BOTTOM LINE: Don’t shoot the messenger!

It Ain’t Over Until it’s OVER – Blue Ribbon winners don’t always work out. Yep. There all sorts of things that can go wrong post offer/acceptance. The candidate that accepted the offer could still turn the other cheek and accept a counter-offer. Family situations could change and all of the sudden the successful search has the potential to blow up at the very end. Make sure you have handles yourself in the most professional way possible – and you may get another call with better news!

Follow-Up With a Thank You Note – You heard me. Gwen Darling agrees. Even if you don’t get the nod, be gracious in the way you handle the news. Remember, the client, their team, the search consultant and their team invested their time and energy in interviewing you, talking to your references and other activities to support your candidacy. Let them know that you appreciate their interest. It’s amazing to me how some candidates revert back to their childhood behavior and just “lose it” and let their emotions get the best of them. Not smart. NOPE!

Losing is never fun – I get that. Losing and then tanking your reputation and future chances with a search consultant or their client is well…like losing twice. That’s dumb. Really dumb!