Should you employ creative job search strategies, or do they just fall flat and make you look like a fool?
That depends. In a recent careers column by Eve Tahmincioglu at MSNBC.com, the author quoted a workplace consultant who said in regard to the practice of informational interviewing that employers don't like a "bait and switch" or, in other words, you need to be up front with your intention and purpose when sitting face-to-face with a hiring authority. If what you really want is a job interview, then getting your foot in the door based on your request for an informational interview is being insincere.
I don't completely agree with this opinion. While I don't advocate being anything less than authentic, you can choose when to exercise full disclosure. In fact, my personal work history includes a time when I landed a new and better full time position, all because I took a risk using my creativity.
Here's what happened:
I was working as a Job Developer for a non-profit organization that strove to get laid off workers reemployed. My role was to set up meetings with potential hiring authorities where I introduced our non-profit program and how it worked. I then tried to solicit job openings for which our job loss clients could apply. Building rapport was key to the success of my efforts. A reason I was offered this job was my background in recruiting and staffing.
One day a faxed job opening hit my desk. It was for a position with another non-profit organization requiring very similar skills as the job I was currently doing – but offering $5000 more per year to start! As a single parent of two sons, I instantly knew that I had to get that job – but what was my best strategy? The job posting asked for one area of experience that I didn't have – working with a specific client population type. Would that become a deal buster? Hmm, only one way to find out.
I picked up the phone and scheduled an meeting with the organization's director on the pretext that I wanted to learn more about their position for my laid off clients. No problem – an appointment was immediately set for later in the week.
The day of the meeting I dressed in my best suit as if I were going to a job interview. I made sure I knew the location (actually, another benefit if I could only get the job was that the site was located five minutes from my home!). I arrived five minutes early with my questions in hand. I planned to conduct myself as if I were being true to my stated purpose – learn more about the position for my clients.
The moment I met the director I was completely at ease. She was very personable and easy to converse with. We meandered off topic a bit and got to know each other as real people – definitely building rapport. Of course, I got answers to all my questions, and the meeting went beyond the allotted 30 minutes to over 45 minutes.
When it was time for me to leave, I looked the director straight in the eye and said, "I've really enjoyed our talk. Your position sounds very challenging and rewarding. I have no doubt I'd be a perfect candidate for you. You will have my resume in the morning." She replied, "I certainly hope so. I look forward to seeing it."
Wow! I was halfway there! That evening I updated my resume and delivered it, as promised, on my way to work the next morning. I was called for an official interview within the week. So, I got a new suit and went to the interview prepared to ace it.
Yes, I was hired. During the seven years that I worked for her, the director commented periodically that she never would have considered me for the position based on my resume alone as I lacked that specific client population experience. She had liked my assertiveness in setting up that first meeting. She also realized that I could learn about her client population from her, but my recruiting and job development skills were priceless and she couldn't pass up the opportunity to hire someone who really knew how to do the leg work.
Will this strategy work every time? Of course not. But I do encourage you to be professionally creative as you conduct your job search. Be true to yourself and others while keeping an open mind to trying out-of-the-box possibilities. Make your networking work for you, build your rapport, and take a few chances.
Wishing you career success as 2011 races toward us!