Friday, September 25, 2009

The 'get my next job' plan

Current status: 10/6/09 @ 11 pm -- I researched the 10 behavioral questions a little bit.  I figured out that I needed to pick either plan A or plan B before I could pick 10 questions to answer.  So that is on hold.  Instead of that I read '48 Days to the Work You Love' by Dan Miller.  Great book.  That is going to take a while to digest--not 48 days, but some time.  I'll blog the key points of the book for me, tomorrow.  I'm also still going to ask everyone to help me with the branding exercise, tomorrow.  Everything else is on hold while I digest that book, I think.

This is the plan.  If you really want to understand the 'whys' behind the plan you will need to take Ken Kuznia's class 'Land the Job You Want'.

I've reordered the steps because his steps were in presentation order, not execution order.  I'm also omitting the critical 'shift your paradigm' step because I don't want to steal Ken's thunder, and because I've already done it.  When he said it I slapped my forehead and instantly saw that he was completely right.  My paradigm is thus now shifted, so I'm skipping that step in the plan below.  As I said, if you are interested then take the class.

One more note for the readers.  There is no step for 'finding out if the company is hiring'.  That is intentional.  I'm sure that I will send my resume to some companies that have publicized positions.  If you have a lead that fits my skills, please let me know and I will definitely check it out.  But my action plan is focused on finding opportunities that are not yet posted, and applying while I am the only person being considered.  (Take Ken's class for the explanation.)

1. Create an action plan (this blog post)
I'm planning in public.  That includes commitment dates and status updates (coming later).
This is now done (see below.)

2. Get Support
Ken wants me to get a 'running partner'.  I kind of already have two, Steve and James.  I need to bring them both up to speed on the plan and what to hold me accountable for.  But that won't take long.
I'm calling this step done, for now.  I'll email them both this link when I hit the 'publish post' button.

3. Decide what I want to do
This is the hard part.  This is where I was stuck before I took the class.  This is what Ken said to do about it.

I'm going to do three 1-hour free-writing brainstorming exercises.  During these times I will write down everything I can think of that I want in or from a job.  That includes duties, responsibilities, resources, location, hours, and everything else that I care about.  I'm going to do this at these times:
* Friday the 25th @ 3-4 pm (done)
* Sunday the 27th @ 2-3 pm (done)
* Monday the 28th @ 2-3 pm (done)

Then I am going to sit down and recompile everything from the free-writing that really reflects what I am looking for.  I will prioritize what is non-negotiable and what is nice-to-have.  I will post that list on my blog.  I'm going to get that done by:
* Monday the 28th @ 4 pm (done)

Then I am going to do some research (talk to some friends and friends of friends) and figure out what types of jobs and companies fit those criteria.  That list will probably grow and evolve over time, so there isn't a finite due date for it.

Once I know the types of positions and types of companies, then I am going to brainstorm (with help from my friends) about what those companies need, and how I can meet those needs.

4. Finish my branding
There are several elements that make up branding.  See my articles on branding here and here.  Short version is:
* A list of relevant accomplishments
* Written-out answers to the top 10 behavioral interview questions
* Several (5-7) short stories that demonstrate how I do what I do
* A primary brand (attribute that I want to focus on)
* Some secondary/supporting brands/attributes that I feel I need to mention
* A simple narrative story of how what I have done in the past prepared me to do the job I am looking for
* A 30-second elevator pitch
* A 2-minute elevator pitch

List of Accomplishments
Before I can write my resume I need to work up a list of accomplishments.  These have to be relevant and recent, so that pretty much means Journyx stuff.  I will send out an email asking my friends from Journyx to help me brainstorm a list of my accomplishments:
* Friday the 25th (done.  I gave them a due date of Friday, October 2)

I will do three more free-writing brainstorming sessions concerning my list of accomplishments:
* Friday the 2nd @ 10 am (done)
* Friday the 2nd @ 2-3 pm (done)
* Saturday the 3rd@ 9-10 am (done)

I'm going to polish and post that list of accomplishments.
* Sunday the 4th @ 2 pm (done)

Behavioral Interview Questions
Behavioral interviews are one common style of interviews.  The whole point of behavioral interview questions is to get to the root of how you do what you do.  Sometime before I go on my next interview I need to look up these questions and prepare answers.  Several people have advised me to write the questions and answers on note cards and memorize the answers.

The exercise of figuring out how I do what I do can also be an interesting and informative exercise that will help me better understand myself.  As long as I'm honest with myself.  I'm going to try it:
* Tuesday Oct 6 @ 6 pm

My Stories
Another exercise that was recommended to me is to write out a few short stories about how I accomplished some of the things on my accomplishment list.  Again the whole point is to really examine myself in the mirror and see how I do what I do.  I'm going to try to write up 5 short stories as blog postings:
* Wednesday Oct 7 @ 9 am
* Wedensday Oct 7 @ 10 am
* Wednesday Oct 7 @ 11 am
* Wednesday Oct 7 @ 2 pm
* Wednesday Oct 7 @ 3 pm

The Decision Point
The whole Plan A / Plan B problem makes everything that follows this step more than twice as difficult.  I have to figure out which to work on first, and whether or not I will pursue both at once.  So I'm going to draw a line in the sand and force myself to make that decision before I can proceed.  I am going to figure out what to do about the problem that I have two target jobs:
* Sunday Oct 11 @ 10 pm

Then I will update my plan accordingly:
* Monday Oct 12 @ 2 pm

Primary and Secondary Brands
To some degree it does not matter what I decide to do with regards to Plan A / Plan B.  I am what I am.  But I will decide to focus on different attributes in my marketing based upon what I have decided.

First I will ask my friends and family to tell me what they think.  That entails a blog post:
* Monday Oct 5 @ 9pm (done)

And it entails actually asking people to read and respond to the blog post:
* Tuesday Oct 6 @ 10 pm

Second I will have to actually choose a primary brand and secondary brands that I believe in:
* Tuesday Oct 13 @ 10 pm

And third I will have to review and update the blog and other content to reflect these brands:
* Wednesday Oct 14 @ 5 pm

Narrative Story
This is a story that should connect the dots between where I have been and where I want to go next.  This story serves two purposes.  It provides fodder for the elevator speech.  And it acts as a sanity check against my ambitions.  If the gap between where I have been and where I want to go is too large it will show up in this story.  I'm going to write and post the story on this blog:
* Thursday Oct 15 @ 11 am

Elevator Pitches
There are two elevator pitches: 30-second and 2-minute.  The details are are already posted elsewhere.  I've already tried to write the 30-second pitch once, and it is harder than it seems.  I didn't have all of the above prep work done, though.  So hopefully it will be easier this time.  But I'm still going to give myself plenty of time to craft and word-smith before I post the written versions of these:
* Tuesday Oct 20 @ 11 am

And then I'm going to video myself practicing both and post the videos on the blog, also:
* Wednesday Oct 21 @ 3 pm

5. Build the right type of resume
I'm going to use those accomplishments, branding, and stories to create a resume in the style that Ken taught in the class.
* tbd

I'm going to send that resume to several professional and semi-professional resume reviewers who have volunteered to look it over.  There are three of them (Ken Kuznia, Jim Ebbitt with Grace's Career Transition Ministry, and there is someone at the Austin Job Seeker's Network, but I can't find their information right now.)

After I get their feedback I'm going to create a final draft of my resume.  Each job I apply for will probably get a modified version, but this will be the base model.
* tbd

6. Empower my network
This is more complicated than it should be because of my Plan A / Plan B situation.

I still have to decide if I am going to have my network work on both plan A and plan B jobs at the same time.  Or maybe I will start everyone looking for plan A jobs for a few months, and then change to plan B if plan A doesn't materialize.  Or I might have some people work on Plan A and others work on Plan B.

Whatever I decide, I'm going to have to give my network when I ask them to start sharing their contacts.
1. 30 second elevator pitch
2. Bullet points of the job I am looking for
3. Target companies for them to find me contacts in

When I have it I will post this on the blog and email it to everyone.

7. Identify and contact the companies I want to work for
This is really two separate steps that will be intertwined.  One step is 'identifying companies'.  That is a research project.  The other step is 'contacting companies'.  That is a marketing and sales process.  I will start the first step first, and each time I come up with a qualifying company I will start the second step with that company.

Identifying companies
This is a broad research project.  I will need to spend a lot of time on Google, LinkedIn, and lots of company websites.  I will also spend time evaluating their stock and bond ratings (where applicable.)  Much of this I have to figure out how to do.  So I have two big preliminary tasks I have to accomplish first.

I have to develop a research process for determining which companies to include in my initial list.  This might be as simple as searching LinkedIn for titles.  (See also  Probably it is more than that, and it deserves some planning:
* tbd

Then I have to develop some criteria for weeding out bad companies that I don't want to get mixed up with, and a process for researching those criteria.  This is a first-pass attempt at the criteria that I will use in forming this list:
* They have (or desperately need to have) one or more of my target position(s).
* They look like a good place to work (primarily indicated by low turnover in the department(s) where my target position(s) is located.)
* They look to have external indicators of growth potential, like not overly burdened with debt or crippling lawsuits.
* Location.

But I need to really think through those criteria more closely.  And then I need to figure out how to determine the answer for each potential company.  That will probably entail contacting my network and asking for anyone who knows anyone at the target company.
* tbd

Contacting companies
This is Sales 101--Cold Calling.  I've done that before (lots of it at CompUSA.)  I have no worries or concerns about this part.  It's just a numbers game.  Ken gave me some great voicemail scripts.  He gave me the three big points that I need to make (I'll protect Ken's IP and not publish the big points right here.  If you want to know then take the class.)

I do need to write out a personalized version of the voicemail script and the three big points, based upon my accomplishments and target position:
* tbd

Then I will have a standard marketing multi-touch ad campaign going out to the hiring manager for my position in each targeted company.  The start date will differ for each company.  So I'm going to need a to set up a free CRM account somewhere and use their tools to manage the touch dates and times for each target contact.
* tbd

I need to lay out the precise sequence of touches, and the time lags between touches.  Ken suggested this e-book for helping to lay that out,  I have it but haven't read it yet.  I need to read it, and then lay out my marketing campaign.
* tbd (read the e-book)
* tbd (design my marketing campaign)

I think that my campaign will look something like this (obviously every touch includes my contact info, and the 'Days' refer only to weekdays):
* Day 1: Off Hours: Leave a voicemail.
* Day 2: Morning: Mail a simple introduction card with my 3 big points.
* Day 3: Morning: Intro email with a brief summary of my 3 big points.
* Day 6: Early Morning: Call and make my introduction or leave another voicemail.
* Day 9: Late Afternoon: (Only if I got voicemail on day 6) Call and make my introduction or leave another voicemail.  This voicemail should indicate that I won't contact again for a month.
* Day 35: Call and make my introduction or leave another voicemail.

Obviously, if I get told to stop calling someone I will.

8. Prep for the Interview(s)
There are several things that I need to get prepared for the interview(s).  This is still just a brainstorming list right now.
~ Prepare an answer for Plan B interviews about Plan A--the road not taken.
~ Study and prepare for the top 10 behavioral interview questions.
~ Prepare my scripts for deferring the dollar question and for conducting Ken's 'get to the point' transition.
~ Write a script of interview questions and find a partner to interview me.

9. Prove that I can meet the company's needs during the interview
(This applies to any interview, even phone interviews and interviews that come about from traditional search methods.)

I need to ask one or more of my friends to sit down with me and do a mock interview with me, so I can practice the following interview technique.
* (Can't set date and time until I have decided what type of job I want.)

The interviewer will have some standard scripted questions.  As soon as they give me an opening I will begin a standard Services Sale call with them.  (Ken gave me a good sample script for this.)
* I will ask them for the big requirements of the position.  I will write these down and reflect them back to ensure and prove I understand them.
* If I am surprised by the answer and hear requirements that I am not qualified for I will graciously bow out and end the call.
* If I feel qualified then I will discuss my experience as proof of my ability to meet the requirements.
* I will ask for objections and offer whatever proofs I can to overcome those objections.
* When they run out of objections I will ask for the offer.

10. Negotiate and research after the offer is made
I will have already researched these companies.  But I will have many questions about the particulars.  After I get an offer I will get those questions answered.  And I will negotiate the offer before I accept it.

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