Five O’Clock Club members do a terrific job developing a marketing plan so they can methodically track the progress of their job searches. Many members go to great lengths not only to identify companies and organizations within their selected target areas, but to include other pertinent information on the geographical areas in which they desire to work, the function(s) or job title(s) in which they see themselves, and the challenges and accountabilities of the positions they seek. Some even use their marketing plans as a daily planner in which they can track the contacts they have identified at various organizations within their target areas, and then use the plan as a “tickler file” in tracking all their correspondence.
Of course, as with any plan, it is only useful if followed and acted upon. The real benefit comes in its execution and, from a job search perspective, in generating meetings, interviews and ultimately job offers. The goal is to get in to meet the right people at the right level and turn those meetings and interviews into offers. Otherwise, putting in hours of research, identifying names of potential contacts, and sharing the bragging rights to having identified over 200 organizations within your targeted areas really doesn’t matter. For some of our 5OCC members, executing their marketing plan is the most challenging part of their job search, and, all too often, this leads to frustration and a willingness to wave the white flag if meetings and interviews do not follow quickly.
Let’s take the case of one 5OCC member, John, who is a securities litigation attorney working at a major law firm. He wants to transfer from working in a law firm to the corporate arena, such as in the general counsel’s office of a financial services company. His goal is to move from the litigation side of law where he handled cases against some of the biggest brokerage and investment firms involved in financial and accounting fraud to an in-house counsel position where he would mitigate legal, regulatory and financial risk – in other words keep companies in compliance and out of the courts. So, not surprisingly, John has a large number of contacts in the financial services arena with whom he can network, and has put together a marketing plan targeting some of the largest commercial and investment banks, along with hedge funds and even some consulting firms.
John’s target area is New York City and to date he has reached out to over 250 Stage 1 contacts (former colleagues and friends) who have helped him identify 200 potential Stage 2 contacts (attorneys and general counsels) within the legal departments of several financial services firms. So the numbers are impressive, but John has had less success in meeting his Stage 2 contacts and moving closer to Stage 3 contacts who have actual or potential job openings. In re-assessing his search, John is confident his targets are right and there are job opportunities for someone with his background, but somehow he needs the right “hook” to land him meetings with those who have the authority to make hiring decisions.
For John, the challenge is in the execution of his marketing plan. Working with his small group at one of the 5OCC weekly meetings John was able to identify some areas in which he needed a “breakthrough” to generate more meetings and interviews. For example, the group explored the target letters he wrote to his Stage 2 contacts requesting an informational meeting. After the majority of his letters failed to get a response the group realized John was not sending a strong enough message about why a meeting would be helpful, and more importantly, what he could bring to the meeting. Simply stating that he wished to meet with a potential contact to learn more about that person’s company wasn’t going to cut it. John needed what one 5OCC member aptly referred to as “sharing competitive intelligence.”
After sharing numerous revisions of his target letter with his small group, John came up with a letter that not only positions him well for the type of work he is pursuing, but one that clearly shows why meeting with him would also be to his contact’s advantage in understanding the legal and regulatory risks that this person’s company may be facing. John was now sending a clear message that meeting with him would provide his contact with the kind of “competitive intelligence” that would be worth a meeting. While the jury is still out on the overall effectiveness of John’s letter, we know that most Stage 2 contacts and potential hiring managers are not willing to take time out of their busy schedules to meet everyone who desires to have a meeting with them so the letter and the reason for meeting has to be a compelling one!
John still has a lot of work to do in getting his contacts to meet with him, such as making a number of follow-up calls and e-mails after his initial target letters. He also needs to continue to expand his targets, identify additional contacts, and not forget to re-connect with his earlier ones. And, he needs to maintain that fine balance between letting people know his desire to switch careers to an in-house counsel position without the expectation that they have an open position at that particular time. By re-assessing his targets and adjusting his marketing plan accordingly, using the support of his small group, and finding that right “hook” or competitive intelligence in generating meetings and interviews, that next job is right around the corner. In the final analysis it is all about execution.