For the first time, many companies are moving to remote work and completely rethinking the office. Unfortunately, this has an increasing number of hard-working people undeservedly without a job. Either laid off or furloughed, it’s tough to consider a reality without the consistency and structure of a job.
Uncertainty defines today’s job market but today one thing is clear. It’s more competitive than ever. However, don’t assume that no one is hiring right now.
It’s true that economists are predicting a recession, but career experts say it’s best to keep networking and applying, provided you change your approach a bit to acknowledge these are uncertain times.
If you’re looking for your next move or you’re like many and have been laid off you’re probably looking for ways outside the traditional application to stand out. That’s why at SalesReach we launched SalesReach Hired, free access to our product to use in your search.
We reached out to the first person who used SalesReach to land a job. Full disclosure, Rich has been in his current role for over a year. We found his advice for people looking for a job more relevant than ever so we’re sharing it here.
Rich Stroble is a Senior Client Experience Manager at Revel Health. He has years of experience in sales and as a hiring manager. We had him on the podcast and asked him to reveal his secrets to landing a job in a competitive market.
Listen to the full conversation we had with Rich on our show On The Rocks, an after-hours themed show with real-talk and hot takes for people in B2B marketing and sales.
Everything was great and then it was over
Here’s Rich, “A few years ago I was doing well and I was getting promoted. Everything was great. Then my position got eliminated. I was in a tough spot.”
Rich realized that since he left his outside sales role earlier in his career he hadn’t had an incentive to network. Life was moving fast the house, kids, and family had been top priorities that didn’t leave much room for networking. Receiving the news that he’d have to find a new position was a tough one at first.
At first, Rich thought he had to start completely over and build up a new network and seek new opportunities. He started applying for jobs left and right.
He remembers at that time he, “was getting frustrated because you’re not hearing back, even on positions you don’t even want.”
So, he took a step back.
Taking a step back from the grind
As a hiring manager, he knew what he was up against on the other side of the process. On the other end as an applicant, he was another resume in a pile. As a hiring manager, he was overwhelmed by the pile.
On both sides of the equation, technology seeks to help sort through the massive volume of applications.
“I feel for people going through this right now. What’s so challenging, coming from a recruiting background, the amount of technology that has come into job searching has crippled operations.”
After taking a step back Rich decided he was going to take a more strategic approach to the job search. What’s missing from LinkedIn Easy Apply is the human connection and relationship building that’s critically important. Rich put together a human strategy and it paid off.
Here’s Rich’s playbook for getting hired.
3 Tips to Fast Track Your Next Career
- Network even when you don’t have to, be the person that’s worth endorsing
- Gear up for the long journey
- Pivot your message as soon as you start talking to a real person
Always be networking
Rich had to think hard about his next move. His previous strategy of firing off many applications per day wasn’t working. He needed a more qualitative approach and the best route to his next job was to look at his current network and be real with them.
“Comfortability with vulnerability is the new superpower,” says Rich.
Don’t be too proud. Initially, he reached out to close friends and people who knew him well at the time. Rich needed endorsements and introductions.
“When I landed my current position I took a look back. It was a crazy web that got me here that crossed 3 or 4 different networks,” said Rich.
As he recalls it, he put his sales hat right back on. He came to is current position by researching a hiring manager at a company he really wanted to work for.
Then, having identified the 3rd-degree connection he needed he scanned that person’s network for anyone he knew who knew this person. It turned out an old friend from high school was connected.
He reached out and asked his buddy if he could make the introduction. To which the friend replied affirmative and without hesitation.
The company Rich wanted to work for was highly sought after and growing fast. As he waited for a reply he kept working his network.
He was vocal with his friends and people close in his life about things that were important to him and he visualized what he wanted. This included reading and journaling about things that were important to him. He recommends taking time to “feed your mind” a tip he pulled from the classic book Think and Grow Rich by Napolean Hill.
During this time he learned an important lesson that stuck with him.
“When you’re only networking when you need something you reak of it. Don’t just show up on the worst day of your life, show up every day. Demonstrate what you know and how you add value,” says Rich.
Gear up and prepare mentally for a long journey
When the time to finally talk to the hiring manager came he was well prepared to talk about what he could do for the company. The hiring manager replied it wasn’t a good fit.
Rich decided he better gear up for a long journey. If he was going to get what he wanted, he’d better prepare for more. He continued his strategy of networking and showing up.
What Rich didn’t know was that after his meeting with the hiring manager at his target company the manager had another meeting with someone at a company he wasn’t aware of but was a perfect fit. The hiring manager was impressed with Rich and told his connection all about him and his performance during the informal discussion.
This would be the key to Rich getting the job he now has.
“He put his neck out for me in that second meeting. He put his personal brand on the line and we had just met,” says Rich.
It’s important to note that this was more than luck. Rich has an intentional strategy in-mind and though this meeting with a hiring manager led to a great referral, he had many other meetings just like it that didn’t result in anything.
There were a lot of rejections. We asked him how he dealt with that.
“My sales experience was always there to fall back on. I’ve been rejected a fair amount of times as a door to door salesperson. Sales experience builds resiliency.”
To Rich, working in sales and the job application process are the same thing.
“Even if you only have experience selling yourself, and you don’t have a background as a salesperson, know that every rejection actually makes you better,” says Rich.
Pivoting to problem-solving as soon as your in the interview begins
The skills that make a salesperson great at their job is relevant here. Rich recommends bringing sales skills and even sales technology into the job search process.
Great salespeople are great problem solvers. They ask questions, collaborate, build consensus, and read the room.
Rich says asking questions will give you the advantage as an interviewee.
“There’s a knee jerk reaction to start talking features and benefits. Just like in sales—oh let me tell you about what this thing does, it’s great—instead of asking ‘What are you struggling with, what’s hard about this for you?” says Rich.
Even before you’re in the room interviewing for a position ask yourself:
- What is the problem that this employer is trying to solve?
- What are the pain points?
- Can I get them to say it?
- Can I get them to articulate what that problem is and show them how I can be a solution to that hire me and not to have to deal with that problem anymore?
- Use tactical empathy to find out, what makes this person’s day hard?
So just like you’d approach selling your company’s products or services think of yourself as the product or service your employer needs to make their business better. It’s the same thing.
“What makes a great salesperson is not about sleight of hand or other sales stereotypes. Salespeople are great problem solvers,” says Rich.
Show your hustle and your scrappiness to figure things out.
Just like in sales, interviewees who ask great questions stand out in the interview process. The questions you’re able to ask set you apart.
Collaborate and work the angles
Next, start collaborating and building connections with more than one person at your target company. Be strategic and try to think about who you’ll be working with or reporting to.
Rich says a fantastic tactic is to build loose ties with other people in the organization.
“When I was interviewing I would bring in my conversations with others in the organization into the process. Most times the hiring manager did not know I had already established connections within their organization. That really sets you apart,” says Rich.
Many hiring decisions are made by committee and culture fit is really important. It’s best to spread a consistent narrative to a handful of people than to rely on one person to play telephone.
Rich explains how hiring works at Revel, “Common in a lot of companies now is a group review process of candidates. It gets back to the culture-fit managers care a lot about today. Candidates should know that a group of people will often review your application. If your interview was one-on-one you have to turn that interview around so that the hiring manager becomes your advocate. They will eventually have to represent you in a group review.”
I recommend the proactive approach that has worked for me and said to them, here the functions that I would like to interview with. Could we make it a full day? I’d like the chance to get to talk to people I’ll be working with.
At the end of the day, the person who’s hiring you is putting their name on the line. They’re saying I stand behind this decision. If you demonstrate that you get them they’ll be more likely to take that risk, because you’ve established a common connection and have demonstrated you’re both on the same page about a very critical problem.
The job search is constant
Rich ended our chat with a great saying, “the best time to plant a tree was thirty years ago. The second best time is today.”
Rich’s story could have been defined by luck. With enough applications sent per day, you’re bound to land one interview. However, if you’re honest with yourself it’s likely you don’t want to work someplace you don’t care about.
To land the job Rich really wanted he had to get real with himself and think creatively. Instead of spending most of his time filling out forms on job boards, he took a step back from the grind.
He created a strategy that involved a consistent narrative and clarity then looked at his network to add value first. With a mindset about what he could add to the community, and he remained patient as he re-engaged with loose ties. Finally Rich used technology like SalesReach and LinkedIn to stand out from other candidates.
Rich has been in his position for a year. He said, “When I got the job I wanted I took those who were in my corner for and supported me out for a steak dinner. When someone is willing to stick their neck out you got to thank them.”