Welcome to YOU Make a Difference.  Stories...observations and reflection on our Leadership Journey!

Do YOU Know How to Open Doors for Others?

Do YOU Know How to Open Doors for Others?

Have you gotten an email or reach out on LinkedIn like this recently?

 “Hi there – I hope you are doing well. I recently left XYZ Company and I am looking for my next position. I hope you will keep me in mind if you see anything that would suit my talents.”

It seems like there is a lot of movement in corporate America these days with more of us than ever on the job hunt and very little opportunity to be found. So…how can we help…really help?

A Story…

In the not too distant past…I was on the job hunt after being with my previous company for 7.5 years. I felt I had a strong network and relevant experience. So… I figured with a bit of work and focus I would find my next “dare to be great” role in short order.

On top of sending out hundreds of emails to my network…just like the one above…I had targeted a company right out of the gate which had a VP of Marketing position open. I had great contacts to help me find not only the recruiter for the position but also the hiring manager. It felt as if all the pieces were falling into place.

Lesson #1

Once you have targeted a company (or even better a specific job requisition) – relentlessly search your network to get introduced to the recruiter or hiring manager so you can be well positioned to have a shot at the job

I had the first screening call with one of the managers and I felt it went well. I wasn’t overly confident that I was going to be offered the job but I felt I had done enough to move to the next round. I couldn’t have been more wrong and the next day I was notified that while they felt the conversation went well – there were other more qualified candidates…ouch. My plan all along had been to get in front of some executives and even if the role I interviewed for wasn’t “the one” I was hoping they would be able to introduce me to others where my talents might more readily apply. Being shut out completely did not play into my plans. Licking my wounds…I continued to work my network and trying to figure out another angle I could play.  

Lesson #2

Things don’t always work out as planned but don’t get discouraged. The job search takes as long as it takes and unfortunately not always within the in the time frame you set for yourself. Once you DO find the right one…things will happen fast. If the process is dragging…it’s probably a sign it is not going your way.

As luck would have it the next day…I had a cold reach out on Linkedin from someone I had never met who was interested in talking to me about a role at my previous company (as it turns out he was interviewing for my old job). Reluctantly…I decided to take the meeting and figured I had nothing to lose. I was also curious about a person that might be the new leader for my old team…after all…I loved my team and wanted to be sure the person who took the job was “worthy” of them.  I was prepared to not like Kevin but I couldn’t have been more wrong! We were fast friends from the moment we met.  Even though he did not get that job…he ended up getting a MUCH better position....at a MUCH better company and we continue to stay in touch!

Lesson #3

Don’t be afraid to reach out to others and ask for introductions or assistance in contacting the right resources within an organization…networking…or just to find out more about the company…even if you don’t know them that well or at all (think Kevin)

So what was the lucky part in all this for me? The screening interview I had with my target company the day before was someone who used to work for Kevin. After knowing me for about an hour he called this person and said they should consider moving me through the process! He immediately changed my life with one phone call…more than people I had known for many years…how could I have predicted that would happen?? He knew how to make introductions and help others...not everyone knows how to do that or offers to do it. As it turns out...it's really not that hard and very effective.

Lesson #4

Take every meeting – even if at first you don’t think there is anything in it for you

There are a lot of other twists and turns to the story that I won’t bore you with here. The end result was that…while I made it to the final round of interviews….I did not get the role I was seeking. Having said that….I did get to know the person who did get that job (again – net new to my network). I stayed in touch with her and she eventually gave me the lead to the job I have today! She opened the right door at exactly the right moment and for that I am grateful.

Each of these strangers simply opened a door. They didn’t endorse me directly or vouch for my skills. They just contacted the right people and asked that they give me a chance and the rest was up to me!

Lesson #5

After every meeting – not only send a thank you note but be sure to keep in touch with others to see how they are doing and update on your situation. Build genuine relationships.

Lastly…don’t forget to pay it forward! Take time out of your day…your week to open doors for others and coach them as best you can. Share stories of what has worked or hasn’t worked to help them navigate their career transition. There are many things we learn and short cuts that we gain as we go through this humbling process. When we are employed we lose that sense of perspective and gut wrenching uncertainty that comes from being out of work. Try to remember how it feels and be as responsive to others as you wish others had done for you!

Leadership questions of the week for YOU:

  • When was the last time you looked for a new job and do you remember how it felt?
  • Who were the people that helped you most and what things did they do that really made a difference?
  • What do you think of the lessons learned and are there any you would add or change?
  • Have you had people reaching out to you recently with the email listed above and how effective was that in your mind? Did you take action for them? Did you take time to meet with them? What advice did you give them?
  • Can you think of 2-3 people that could use your help finding their next role and are there 2-3 introductions (or doors you could open) for them that can get them started or moving forward faster?
  • How many networking meetings do you do a month…when you don’t need anything…but just to maintain your genuine relations? How important is it to do that even if you are currently employed?

Thanks for reading and remember…..YOU make a difference!

Be sure to continue the conversation by liking, commenting or sharing this post. You can also follow me on twitter @marciedwhite.

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