Saturday, October 24, 2009

Thank you Green Bean

One of the coffee shops where NFJS meets burned down last night, and I feel the need to say "Thank you!" It was the Green Bean Coffee House and it was a terrific place. A non-profit of it's own, part of a church (Sanctuary), but mostly a place of acceptance and welcome. We have been meeting there since April, but I've known them since they opened in 2004. One of the key volunteers for NFJS is Colonel Bob Jackson (USAF Ret) whom I met through the Green Bean. Turns out his daughter is the Manager of the Green Bean along with being one of the ministers at Sanctuary. These people and the place they created will be missed.

Until further notice, the Wednesday Meeting of Notes from the Job Search will be meeting at the Wayward Coffeehouse Around the corner and half a block further north. (8570 Greenwood Ave N).

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Job Search sales

My last post was on “branding” and creating a consistent message or “brand” when talking about your work skills and talents. This post takes the concept of approaching job search as a sales job a bit further.

I distinguish between good sales and bad sales. “Good sales” is when we identify real problems and offer a solution that addresses it successfully. We’ve all experienced it, and we tend to remember the person or people that helped us with it. It’s amazing how many processes look like this, for example: In IT, a good job of analysis and development fits. It is also what we’re doing in job search.

A tool I use to organize this process is “OGOOALS”.

OGOOALS system for thinking about job search (and sales)
Orientation: “Hi, How are you” portion. Very short, especially the first time you meet. Standard pleasantries… you know the things, weather, Mariners, Seahawks, stuff like this. Meaningless, mostly used to initiate the conversation and cover the ourselves as we measure each other physically

Gather: Asking about the company, the job, the environment, the tools, etc. This is the meat of the time and the meat of your approach. Orientation only happens in person, Gather starts way before you meet. It’s reading the job description, the web page, etc. The purpose is to find out what problem is being solved. Are they expanding? Did they just fire someone? Are they changing direction? Why are they looking?

Offer a solution: Once you understand the problem, look at your history and provide a way to solve the problem based on your experience and your strengths. If they advertised for a Java developer, but the problem is a poorly designed web page, address the Java, but focus on the problem. What of your strengths will allow you to redesign this web page so that it solves whatever problem it was intended for.

Offer proof: You proposed a solution, now show them proof that you can implement the solution. What in your work history qualifies you to do this? How can they be certain that you are the one who really can implement this solution.

Ask for the sale: “I would love to work here, what’s the next step in that process?” or “I would love to be the person that tackles this problem for you. What needs to happen for that to occur?” Then listen. Let them tell you how to move forward. Wait. If they need to think their answer through, respect that silence.

Leave the premises. You know you have the job or you know the next step, so say “Thank you” , and leave. Don’t ask about the wife/husband or the Mariners or the weather. The interview is complete, Leave.

Send a thank you note. Hand written. Email works as an add-on, but the hand written is what counts. If you can walk it in, do so. It’s another touch. People are hired, not resume’s and not skill sets, so as you become more of a person, you are more likely to be hired.

Thursday, October 1, 2009


It’s my premise that job search is very much like sales. The product in job search is your skill set and your work persona; note that your product isn’t “you”, just that part of yourself that creates value for companies. At any rate, when selling a product, one of the first steps is establishing a “brand” for the product. Translating this to job search, we need to look at our skill set and our work experience as the tools with which to build this brand. Your response to the job description will be to tailor your brand.

Early in NFJS one of our groups had 3 high level IT folks. All of us had been in IT for a while, we had managed teams and all of us have experienced success with projects. At the simplest level, it would be very easy to see us as competitors. When you dig just a bit deeper, we all have very different strengths that have led to our success, and each of us has a very different focus going forward. The key to each of our brands are those strengths. My brand is focused on my team building and moving a team forward to complete projects, “D” is exceptional at developing solutions to problems that seem intractable, “V” will bring a focus on communication between the various stakeholders.

The marketing folks tell us that a brand starts by looking at a product from the customer’s point of view. Looking at the skill sets of the three program managers this suggests each of us should think about the problem a company is trying to solve that will give us that ideal opportunity. I’m the guy when a team has become rudderless, or is experiencing conflict. “D” will be the person for a situation with serious technical problems and “V” will be a great choice for a company that wants to focus on understanding between its users and its development team. Each of us needs to build our brand around these problems, and if we find ourselves competing for a position, we should look a lot deeper into the problem the company hiring us is trying to address.