A friend of mine showed up today with living proof of how to execute a successful job search or career change in a tough market. I first heard from her about 3 months ago, when she emailed to let me know about her upcoming job search. Her email was thoughtful and personal, addressed to me by name, and she asked me about my recent move.
Her message was also very specific. She told me what type of job she wanted, what type of job titles would typically fit her skills, and gave me a list of 5 or so employers she thought would be perfect for her.
She made it really easy for me to help her.
After I forwarded her information to a friend of mine recruiting in her new field, she followed up with me to thank me for the referral and let me know that she had connected with my friend.
Today my Inbox had a new message from her. It was a friendly update telling me she accepted a new position in the field she was looking for at a prestigious employer. And, I heard it from her first in a message – not by getting an automated LinkedIn status update telling me she had changed positions.
I have a hunch I’m not the only one who got these messages. I think everyone she reached out to during her job search received the same level of follow-through and thanks. And she now has what I like to call a Small Army of Devoted People who she can rely upon to help her again, if she needs it.
I first heard about the Small Army concept from blogger Chris Guillebeau, author of The $100 Startup. In Guillebeau’s Small Army model of community, you don’t focus on becoming famous; instead you cultivate loyalty through ongoing service and attention to detail. Simply put, rather than expending your efforts toward a lot of people who care very little about you, he teaches you how to connect with a few people who care a lot.
This is exactly what my friend did in her job search. Sure, she could have sent one mass email to 500 connections and said “Hey, I’m looking for work, let me know if you hear of anything!” She could have taken responses and followed up on them (or not) without bothering to reply back to the people who sent them. And she could have started her new job without ever circling back to the people she initially reached out to. After all, that’s what most people do.
Instead, she took the time to customize and personalize. She took the time to ask how I was doing, before asking for me to help her. She thanked me. She let me know that my efforts weren’t wasted. She made me feel like she really cared what I thought. Now, I’m a devoted person in her small army for life.
You might think that it was just plain common sense, or good manners, that made her do these things. But it surprises me how many people don’t do these things. When you make an extra effort, it stands out. You show up differently than everyone else.
Are you creating a small army of devoted people to help in your job search?