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You want in on the dream team? Meet them 20x before they will hire you!

How much work will it take to land your dream job?

The first time I migrated,  I set up the 100:10:1 ratio.  100 applications: 10 interviews : 1 job.

I set the ratio for psychological reasons.  I was being practical.  My goals and plans include the endurance I need to succeed the race.

Do you go green at the sight of these figures? Want to puke?

Truthfully, most people don’t have the stomach for these figures.  They go green, and then grey.  They aren’t motivated by these figures.  They are depressed.

Now I tell you, that the position is far worse than this

If you are a migrant, which you may be for many reasons, or if you are changing career track, the figures will be a lot worse.  Think of 200 applications.  Think of 300 applications.  Think of 1000!

And think of the worst possible behavior on the part of people who process them.  They ignore you.  They patronize you.  They stand you up (even when they’ve paid for your air ticket).  They lie.

Oh those 999 who don’t hire you are seriously depressing!

This cannot be true you say

“I know someone who got a job first time”, you say.   “This cannot be true!  I have never had this trouble!”  “This country needs skilled migrants.”  “They advertised and asked us to apply!”  “You are being cynical.  You are jaded.  This is just sour grapes.”

Indeed.

Let me tell you how it works

Today I found this mantra for advertising.

“The first time a man looks at an advertisement, he does not see it.
The second time, he does not notice it.

The third time, he is conscious of its existence.
The fourth time, he faintly remembers having seen it before.

The fifth time, he reads it.
The sixth time, he turns up his nose at it.

The seventh time, he reads it through and says, “Oh brother!”
The eighth time, he says, “Here’s that confounded thing again!”

The ninth time, he wonders if it amounts to anything.
The tenth time, he asks his neighbor if he has tried it.

The eleventh time, he wonders how the advertiser makes it pay.
The twelfth time, he thinks it must be a good thing.

The thirteenth time, he thinks perhaps it might be worth something.
The fourteenth time, he remembers wanting such a thing a long time.

The fifteenth time, he is tantalized because he cannot afford to buy it.
The sixteenth time, he thinks he will buy it some day.

The seventeenth time, he makes a memorandum to buy it.
The eighteenth time, he swears at his poverty.

The nineteenth time, he counts his money carefully.
The twentieth time he sees the ad, he buys what it is offering. “

This was apparently written by Thomas Smith of London in 1885 and was reproduced to “advertise advertising” and to make the point that we need, what may feel like, excessive redundancy in advertising.

You need 20 contacts to make a sale!

I said 100:10:1.  Yes, that 1 sale will come from 20 contacts.

So if we contact 100 people, and we instinctively home in on that one employer who will eventually employ us, we need to make 100 (inital contacts)+10 (interviews) +20 contacts with the luck employer of me!

And as we are not likely to be so lucky, we need to make initial contact with 100 people and expect to contact each of those 20 times, with the one we stay in contact with employing us!  100 people x 20 contacts = 2000 meetings.

OK so lets get real.  Are you starting cold?

How do some people get jobs more quickly!  Well they are already in a sales funnel.  They are using their Dad’s contacts.  Their university does part of the work for them.  They belong to a network without understanding that they do.

If for some reason you are starting cold, or you get part way down your career and you realize you want to make a big change, you need to take charge and weave your own network.

You cannot afford to act randomly.  You have to be prepared to find out

  • Who you want to work with
  • And assiduously build up contact with them.

If you are at school or university, begin early.

Compare with these figures

In a social network, 1% of people generate content, 9% critique content and 90% consume content (1:9:90).  We see the same “J curve” on student chatter lines and in professional associations.

Ken Thompson of SwarmTeams talks of the 2% economy.  Only  2% of messages to people are opened when they are from someone we don’t know or remember.  We open all the messages from our friends.  And we respond to about 10% of them.

Yup, we ignore 90% of what our friends tell us!

Get cracking!

I strongly recommend listing 10 firms who interest you on 10 old envelopes and look for ways to meet people who work in the department you want to join.

Keep notes.  Add envelopes.  Prioritize them.

Budget your time.

If you are starting a 3 year degree, you need to meet 2 people a day, every day, including Saturdays, Sundays and Christmas, to make 2000 contacts before you graduate.

And think career from the outset.  Don’t think job.  Think career.

Start now

Start exploring now and start collecting information, contacts and know-how.

It all adds up and takes you closer to that team who is doing exactly the sort of work that you want to do and that they need you so badly to do!

(And if you haven’t started and need a job now?  Then divide your time.  Put time aside for this project daily and do whatever you have to do to survive as a separate project.  Just don’t let go of this one. That you will regret.  The lost time will irk you more than flipping burgers.  Begin!)

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You really must be in a positive mood to get the job of your dreams

Downtown Core, Singapore's business centre.
Image via Wikipedia

I am ever so grateful to Daryl Tay who blogged his successful search for a social media job in Singapore.

Now Singapore is a prosperous place.  Daryl has a good degree.   And he is an adventurous outgoing guy who instigated Social Media Breakfast while he was an under-grad.

But Social Media is new industry and Social Media firms aren’t queuing up at University Career Days looking for bright-eyed bushy-tailed students to gopher for them on a two-year graduate program.

So Daryl had to make his own job and I think the contrast between his positive attitude and the unfamiliarity of his task really put into perspective my job as a career coach, and indeed, what you must demand of your career coach.

What you want from your career coach

Your career coach’s job is to get you into a positive frame of mind.

If you are feeling bruised and sore, you cannot think even think straight. You certainly cannot be sufficiently creative to find the job of your dreams in the hurly-burly and confusion in the marketplace.

What Daryl brought home to me, is that it is not good enough for me to tell you the theory. You probably know the theory at least intuitively.

I must get you into a good mood so you can search creatively.

Read on to see if I am on the right track

Mid 2009, Singapore

Daryl Tay, social media evangelist blogged his job search that led to Blue Interactive in Singapore.  Success!  A good agency, new challenges, freedom to blog!  The perfect first job for a newly-minted graduate.

Daryl puts his success down to the generosity of the social media world.  It is a generous world for the most part.  He passed on information about a job to an acquaintance, who reciprocated in due course, without being asked.  He followed up her lead, which led in turn, not to a job, but to ten more “names”.  He followed those up, and got 3-4 interviews, one of which was with Blue.

That’s pretty good by all accounts. I saw figures somewhere that in the US you should budget for 3-4 “qualified leads” from 100 approaches.  So Daryl did 10x better than average.   A 1000% gain!  Worth paying attention to.

What led to Daryl’s success?

  1. The generous ethos of the social media world.
  2. Singapore is relatively prosperous.
  3. Singaporeans are unusually punctilious in their business dealings. They don’t waste each others time.
  4. Daryl is well known in social media circles as he is an established blogger and hosts Singapore’s Social Media Breakast.
  5. Daryl took a degree in marketing including a semester in Canada.
  6. Daryl is a nice guy.

Yes, all these are true. What is also true is that Daryl did not mind having to make his own job. Nor was he offended by the people who did not respond to his approach. Nor did he seem particularly bothered by interviews that did not lead to jobs.

Has Daryl got a thick skin? I don’t think so. He has always seemed like a sensitive, responsive person to me.

The point is he was in positive frame of mind. So, his mind went automatically to two thoughts:

  1. What could he create?
  2. What worked well and what should he do more of?

Such simple questions but try thinking that way when you are in a negative mood! It is really hard!

Working with a career coach

By the time people come to see me as a work & organizational psychologist, otherwise known as a career coach, they are pretty fed up. The job market is not what they thought and they want me to make it responsive. They want me just to make the bad stuff go away!

The general pattern of career coaching is based on career guidance of old. It has changed a little, but not enough.

We typically go through four steps.

  1. With tests or other means, we figure out who you are.
  2. We match you to opportunities in the world.
  3. We prepare you for interviews.
  4. We celebrate or commiserate with the results.

Straightforward – yes, but wrong.

Positive career coaching

While you are in a bad mood, you see all the problems.  It is nothing to do with being optimistic or pessimistic.  It is a natural reaction and the recalcitrance of the world is very real to you at that point.   So our job is to get you back into a good mood.  Then you will do the rest yourself!

  1. We have to get you thinking about what you do well (most services do that, but it is not enough)
  2. We have to get you exploring the work world and identifying 10 companies whom you think are interesting.
  3. You need to know enough about these companies to approach them.
  4. You need to approach them (preferably working down the list from 6 to 10 so you can make your mistakes on the second half of the list).
  5. It helps to keep your coach on sides to discuss the results. You will decipher the feedback quicker and they’ll help you soak up any disappointment.
  6. Go after your top 5 companies with gusto!

That’s pretty much what Daryl did, but without the recovery from a bad mood at the beginning.

Does positive career coaching work?

I’ve often tried to get people to list these 10 jobs and predictably, they do it when they are in a good mood and they won’t do it when they are in a bad mood.

In a bad mood, they just want to pick up the paper, or go on the internet, and see a list of suitable jobs.

Your coach’s job, my job, is to get you back into a sufficiently positive frame of mind so that you list those 10 companies and work out what you can do with them.

After that you will approach them with a spring in your step, laughter in your voice, and mental agility that will delight even you!

It is not easy.   After all that is what you pay us for.   To get you back into a positive frame of mind.   When you are focusing again on what does work, it all clicks together and suddenly everything happens for you.

This is not positive thinking or wishful thinking, I might add. It is painstaking work listing and acting on what works until the world seems to be full of opportunity again.

To Daryl

So well done Daryl, and thanks.  I knew all this but reading your story brought home to me that it is not career coaching that is important.

It is focusing our minds on what works, regaining the positive mood, and sticking with you during the search to keep you positive.

Your success brought that home to me.  Well done!  A lot of people will take heart from your initiative.

To everyone else

Make sure your coach delivers. It is their job to put up with your bad mood until your recover your sense of humour!

Pay them well and buy them a good meal when you get the job of your dreams.  You’ll be good company by then. 🙂

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