Speed Up My Job Search

References & Accountability Transcript

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Let’s start your search by talking about references, because your references can be critical to just how quickly you’ll be able to find a job. Presumably, your references are people you know pretty well, and if you don’t know them well right now, it’s time to create that relationship.

Typically your references are people who have supervised your work at some point in your career, and if you’re listing them as references, they must have liked your work. Well, I don’t want to state the obvious here, but if you know someone in a supervisory position who liked your work, well first, if they’re now with a new company, ask them about potential career opportunities within their new company. Secondly, even though I don’t know them personally, I would be willing to bet that they have friends at the same level they are at, who work at OTHER companies!

So here’s what you need to do, first please go read the blog I’ve written on our blog page called How To Give and Get Good References. I’m not going to rehash all of that right here in this video. There’s lots of good info there that’s important, but too much for this video. Within that blog I discuss some questions you want to ask your references as you try to prepare them to be good references for you. While you’re asking those questions, I have one more to add to your list.

And it comes from the fact that during the interview process, if the Hiring Manager you’re interviewing with knows someone at one of your prior employers who probably worked with you, they are reaching out to make reference calls without you even listing those people as references. Which they really shouldn’t do, but it happens more often than you think. And it does prompt an interesting thought that, while you’re working, everyone around you is likely going to be a reference for you at one time or another, whether you want them to be or not. If they know a potential Hiring Manager who knows they worked with you, they’re going to get a call, so you always want to work at a level that would inspire good references. But that’s another subject entirely. What I’m driving at here is, what if YOU tried doing that same thing, but in reverse?

What I mean is, instead of them going in the back door to find out about you, why not YOU go in the back door to a company? Ask your references, and anyone you worked with for that matter who you feel confident that they liked your work, who they know who might be in a position to hire someone at another company. Let them know that you won’t use their name if they don’t want you to, but would certainly appreciate it if you could, and that you’ll just reach out to them to find out what the forecast for hiring looks like at their company over the next couple months.

Why not get the people who know you and your work best, working FOR you!? Use their connections to help you get in the next door. The best way to find a job is through networking, right? Well of all the people you know, your immediate family, your close friends, your acquaintances, or your co-workers, who is the most likely to know someone who might be able to hire you? Your co-workers, yes! So you need to create a plan to ask all of your former co-workers FIRST! This should be your best source of leads of tangible leads.

This is kind of like what we talked about in the Technical Tips section when you were searching for jobs online. Start with the absolute best match first, with as many keywords as you can, THEN widen the search if you don’t get any results, but START there first in case you do get a hit so you can apply right away. Nothing gets you in the door faster than a direct referral from someone who knows your work.

Have you been asked to BE a reference for someone? Again, if you need advice on HOW to be a great reference for someone, go check out that blog article and you’ll learn the exact steps necessary to do that. This video is part of the Search tab, so we’re only talking about how to search for a new position here. This is another very easy option for you. When you get a call from an employer about your friend, give them the best reference you can, but before you get off the phone, assuming you don’t do the exact same thing that your friend does, try this:

“Before you go, can I ask you something? I’m also looking for a new position right now, I’m a [title]. Do you know of any [title] positions open within your company right now? Or maybe you know of one elsewhere?”

Let them answer, and if you get, “No, no openings sorry”, thank them for letting you know, “No problem, I appreciate you giving it some thought. If something comes to mind you have my number. Thanks again.”

I know some people might be a little uncomfortable with this, and I understand that. But this is one of those things you need to think through before you just take the easy, most comfortable way out of the conversation. Realistically, what are the chances that you’ll ever speak to this person again? Really, how much impact will this person have on your life after this phone call if they don’t have a job opening, and don’t know of a job opening? What if the worst happens and they say, “Ugh, I cannot believe you just asked that question! NO we don’t have any openings, and I wouldn’t tell you about them even if we did!” First of all, that’s never going to happen, but secondly, will your dinner plans change tonight because they said that to you? Will you go to bed at a different time tonight because of that phone call? Will you wear something different tomorrow, because they said that? NO! Nothing will change in your life if they say no, you’ll be exactly where you are right now, which is looking for a job. BUT, they definitely won’t say yes, if you don’t ask them. The answer to every unasked question is always no.

This might be a tough question to ask, but the name of this website is SPEEDUPmyjobsearch.com, it’s not, make my job search easier.com. Finding a job faster might involve doing some things you wouldn’t naturally do, but there’s always a purpose for every move I’ll recommend here, and it will always be focused on helping you find a job faster. Your warm leads, people you know, and the contacts of people you know, should be the first resource you tap into, because if they have a connection for you, you’ll have the highest probability of getting an offer.

I always hear about those amazing stories where someone met some random person at a random place, the one I head this week was the guy heard about a job lead when he was standing in line at a jewelry store. He followed up on it and landed the job. Good story, but seriously, where will you have the best odds of discovering a credible job lead? Standing in jewelry stores all day, or asking your co-workers?

So let’s look for some more ideas to get quality referrals. And I’ll tell you, the absolute best referrals are going to come from people who are invested in your search; from people who genuinely want to see you find something that will work for you. I know that concerns some people because they think that without a huge team of people whom they know really well who are pulling for them, that they are losing out on a huge source of leads here. If you don’t have any family in town, or maybe you’re new to the area, or maybe you’re just uncomfortable asking friends and family for leads, regardless, that’s not a problem. There are ways to get people invested in your search, even people you don’t know very well and people you haven’t even met yet.

There are 2 key ways to do that from a couple groups of people you’ll need to be interacting with, and even a very subtle way to get a family member or close friend involved in helping with your search without it coming across as inappropriately. I’ll walk you through that first, then we’ll dig into the 2 groups and how to get them invested in your search to develop some referrals.

First, and please try not to jump ahead here to try to figure out where I’m going with this before I get there, okay? Follow me all the way through. So does anyone know that you’re watching these videos, and that you’re either a member of SpeedUpMyJobSearch.com or you’re thinking about it? If not, tell someone that you watched a few of these videos, and I’m not telling this so you’ll spread the word about the site, you can do this for any job search site. Just tell them that you watched the job search advice videos. When you do, what are they going to say? They’ll ask, “How were they?” Now at this point, you have a choice, you can either say, “Eh, it was okay. Some headhunter yapped at me about some job search ideas, whatever.” Or you could say, “Eh, it was fine, but I’ll tell you I walked away with a couple really great ideas. This and this, and I really need to find a way to start doing these things. I’ll tell you what, a week from now, would you mind asking me if I did these things this week? Maybe that will motivate me to try them.” Now, both of these answers cost you the exact same amount of money, you’re not going to be any more tired by saying one of those answers over the other one, but one of them will significantly impact your job search in TWO different ways. First, you WILL be more motivated to try those ideas, so if you find a couple ideas throughout the program you realize you DO need to be trying, this will help get you doing them. But second, and maybe even more importantly, is that you’re going to get that person invested in your search. It’s human nature to want to help other people, and that person is going to feel like they’re helping you. When they ask you next week, chances are excellent that they’ll have some additional ideas for you, and POSSIBLY some job leads that they’ve heard about. I guarantee that if they do make a note to ask you about your week, that they will then be more in tune to the job market this week, and if they see a lead for you they’ll let you know about it. From there, it won’t be a big stretch to ask them to keep an eye out there in case they hear of any of their friends who are looking for someone like you. This whole situation happened, your ability to get them looking for leads for you because they are now invested in your search, this whole thing happened because of your choice to watch these videos, then tell someone about it, and then your choice respond appropriately when they ask how it went. The choices that you make here will have an effect on how much longer your job search is going to last.

Essentially that family member or friend that you told to check back with you would become a mini-accountability group for you, without calling it that. Creating an accountability group with a very close friend for extended periods of time can cause some friction, and you don’t want to jeopardize that relationship. You just want them keeping an eye out there for potential leads.

Accountability Groups are a really effective method to job search that you can employ. Finding a small group of other people who are in the same boat can be extremely helpful, and this could be just 2 people or it could be 4 or 5 people, usually not more than that though. A great place to find people for this is at Job Clubs, but if you don’t know of one near you, find a job fair and ask some people. Or just find some friends who have some goals they want to accomplish, maybe people from church or where ever. Even if their goal is not finding a job, just something that they would really like to accomplish, they might be interested in starting this group. Call it a Mastermind Group, whatever you want, just remember, this is not a support group to complain about the job search process. It’s important to use your time productively for accountability, for leads, and motivation. The most important part is that you’ll have multiple people who get very invested in your search. Many of the groups I know about have a rule that the group cannot disband until everyone has a job, so you’ll be extra motivated to help everyone in the group land a position quickly. I recommend making this a priority. Write it down on a sheet of paper, “Find an Accountability Group”, and then put that in your Do folder. This needs to be a priority because it will instantly add people to your network who are vested in your search.

Last but not least, another group of people who have potential to help you find a new position and hand you leads are HR professionals and Hiring Managers. Have you ever been on an interview that you just knew wasn’t going well? It happens to the best of us. For whatever reason, it’s just not a match and it’s obvious to both of you while you’re still there in the interview. Keep this question in your back pocket for situations like this.

“I’m sure in your position you have the opportunity to talk with lots of different headhunters to help with your positions, do you know of any good ones who you would recommend I talk to?”

Now, the purpose of this question is NOT to get the name of a headhunter. I mean, don’t get me wrong, if you get the name of a good headhunter call them. But the point of asking the question is to get this person, the HR person or the Hiring Manger, invested in your search. Once they go out of their way to give you a name they’ve essentially contributed to the success of your search, and it will be of interest to them to see a successful outcome for you.

This opens the door for follow up to say thanks for the name and to let them know you called the person and they were really helpful. As you build rapport over a few check in calls, you can give them a quick, “By the way, since you know my background pretty well, if you ever hear of any positions that might be a fit for me, please keep me in mind.” If it’s an HR person and they go to a conference with other HR people and hear of jobs, or they just go to lunch with their friend who is also in HR from another company, and they hear about a job that could fit for you, they would look great for making that recommendation to both sides, you AND the company they are recommending. So you can apply with an inside referral.

If you can get HR people invested in your search, you’ll open the doors up to a world of new leads you would never see anywhere else. They have some jobs that don’t even have job descriptions written yet. You can’t get more hidden than that!

The key to getting strong referrals, from your own references, from accountability groups and from HR professionals, is simply to get them willingly invested your search, and it’s not as hard to do as it might seem. You can do it, you just need to give it a try. I think you’ll be surprised at what you turn up.

As for resources for this section, there’s just one book I want to recommend here, and I know it’s available in audio form if you’d rather listen to it. It’s by Rick Pitino, and it’s called Success is a Choice, and I’ll tell you, this book has nothing to do with job search. Rick Pitino is a basketball coach, and I’m not even a basketball fan and I loved this book. It’s truly one of my all time favorites, it’s very easy to relate to. The premise is that success truly is a choice, it’s not a lucky break, it’s not a fortunate set of circumstances. You choose to ask your references and co-workers for referrals, you choose to find and join an Accountability Group, and when someone asks you what you thought of this video? It’s your choice how you respond. This is a great book, very motivating. If you need some motivation as you’re working hard to continue your search, I highly recommend it. There’s more information about it on this page, and of course a link where you can pick up a copy for yourself.

Here’s your assignment for this section. First, make a list of all of your current references, as well as any previous co-workers who you could still get in contact with and make a plan to reach out to them. These people know your skills and might have some leads. Put this list in your Now folder to find names, numbers and emails to compile this list and make a plan to reach out to all of them.

Next, remember that question I recommended you ask at the end of a reference call when YOU are being the reference? It went like this:

“Before you go, can I ask you something? I’m also looking for a new position right now, I’m a [title]. Do you know of any [title] positions open within your company right now? Or maybe you know of one elsewhere?”

Write that down with a pen so it sticks in your head, put it in your Now folder, and keep taking it out and reading it until its memorized. This is a question you need to be comfortable asking, so get to know it, and be ready to use it. Not just for reference calls, but whenever you see the opportunity. Remember, the answer to every unasked question is always no.

Next on your list is to tell someone you watched some videos on SpeedUpMyJobSearch.com. When they ask what you thought, be ready to tell them that you walked away with 2 or 3 really good ideas and hope they will ask you about them next week.

Then look around for an Accountability Group you can join. This will be one of the most important steps you take in this process, so make sure it gets done. If you need subject matter to go over, pick a video each week from SpeedUpMyJobSearch.com to watch and then discuss it in your next job club meeting and try the tactics discussed. If you don’t have weeks to find a job, find a partner to go through all this material with and meet daily until you get through it all. This will inspire some positive conversations and motivation to keep your job search proactively moving forward.

Last but not least, there was one more question for you to memorize:

“I’m sure in your position you have the opportunity to talk with lots of different headhunters to help with your positions. Do you know of any good ones who you would recommend I talk to?”

This isn’t one you want to be thinking about going into an interview, but if you need it, then you should know it. So commit it to memory and you’ll have it at your disposal should you find yourself in that situation.

Okay that’s it. There’s a timeline of events on this page as usual so you can skip right to the parts of the video you want to re-watch. It’s time to get to work.