May I ask you for a moment of personal honesty?
If I was to hire a reputable polling organisation to contact confidentially a representative sample of your previous colleagues and bosses what would I find out about you?
Do they like you? How good would they say you were at your job? What would they say you did best? And worst? Would they want to work with you again? Even more telling, would they recommend you to someone they know, like and trust, as a colleague?
Why do I ask? A few days ago I got an email from a former client, someone who had found it hard late last year to get another role and was, frankly, getting a bit desperate. We worked with him on his CV and LinkedIn profile and he’s know very much back on track. Anyway, he sent me an email to say that he was programme managing a downsizing and he’d been recommending us to several of his departing colleagues.
“That’s terribly kind”, I said. “Not at all”, he replied. “If something works I tend to talk about it.”
In truth we get a lot of our work through such referrals, but I mention it just to make a point about your own job search.
Actually, it’s to make several points.
The most obvious point is that doing a good job is the best personal marketing, branding, image building, call it whatever you like, that you will ever do. Trust me. We spend peanuts on marketing and we’re growing. We must be doing something right.
Now, it’s true for us, but it’s also true for you. However, we have one crucial advantage you probably lack. Our previous clients know we are here and are looking for others to help. We are a business. That is what we do. It’s no secret we would welcome more clients.
Let’s assume that like most people you have tried your best to make the most of your career. You’ve had good patches and more troubled ones, but there are a fair number of people out there who would, if asked, say great things about you.
That’s a reasonable assumption. But ARE they saying great things about you? Above all, are they spontaneously saying good things about you? Are you at the front of their mind when they become aware of an opportunity?
Would “probably not” be an honest answer? And if so, then why? Why is this untapped well of goodwill towards you not gushing?
Could it be they don’t know you are looking? Could it be they have forgotten you? Could it be that more recent contacts have usurped your place in their pecking order? Have you vanished from their world?
It’s never too late to rekindle old contacts and relationships. A few hours after my former client emailed me, I got a message through LinkedIn from an old flat mate of more than a decade ago. He’s running his own business unit in Hong Kong now, and wanted to tell me all about it. In a moment he went from a fond, if very distant memory, to the number one IT security person in my mind. It probably took him a minute. Given that recruiters ask me “who do you know?” quite a lot, that’s a great investment on his part!
So who out there would say great things about you, to someone who might hire you? And when was the last time they heard from you? Drop them a line, and remind them you exist.