A legendary marketing genius once said that, if he had to write a killer sales letter, he would imagine he had a gun pointed at his head and that he would be shot if his advertising didn't deliver.
This motivated him to create some of the world's most-profitable ads.
Example: one of his sales letters was mailed more than 300 million times in the 1970s and produced up to $300,000 a day in sales. Not bad.
So I got to thinking, if I had a gun to MY head and had to get a job fast, or risk execution, what would I do?
I quickly came up with a list of three things ...
1) Meet more hiring authorities.
It's been said by at least one employment expert (OK, me) that nobody in human history was ever hired by a computer. Sure, you can use a computer to find job openings, and employers can use computers to find you. But ultimately, you'll have to go belly-to-belly with a live human to get a job offer.
So why not stack the odds in your favor and start meeting more people who can hire you, starting today?
It boggles my mind to see how many folks can find 20-30 hours a week to answer Internet job postings, yet can't find another two hours to meet with networking contacts over coffee.
I think it's a fear of rejection -- or plain old sloth -- that keeps most job seekers chained to their keyboards, furiously firing off electronic resumes, when they could be pressing the flesh and building their network until they meet a hiring manager with a job offer.
Whatever the reason, if I had a gun to MY head, I'd spend about an hour a day on the computer and the remaining 7 hours calling, talking to and meeting people. Because they're the ones who can hire you.
2) Do only what works. Dump the rest.
Last week I got an email from an irate New York man who's been unemployed for nearly a year. He wrote: "I've sent out 430 resumes and received only one interview since last September!" To which I could have replied, "Why did you wait nearly one year and 430 resumes to bring this to my attention?"
Doing anything more than 400 times and expecting your results to suddenly improve qualifies, I think, as mild insanity. It's what can happen when you lose sight of what you're really trying to accomplish in your job search. Do you want to send out as many resumes as possible, or do you want to get hired as quickly as possible?
If the latter is your goal, then it behooves you to analyze what you're doing at least once a week. Have an actual meeting with yourself. Sit down with a pad of paper and ask yourself these three questions:
1) What am I doing that's producing job leads? Do more of that.
2) What am I doing that's NOT producing leads? Change it or stop doing it.
3) What am I going to do next? Plan your week so you can do more of what's working.
Note: when you analyze what you're doing, assume nothing and look at EVERYTHING: your resume, cover letters, how you answer the phone, your voicemail message, how you follow up with employers, etc.
3) Ace the interview.
There's absolutely no excuse for writing the perfect resume, applying for the perfect job, getting called for the interview ... and then blowing it by showing up unprepared.
Two points here.
First, you should never, ever have trouble answering common interview questions like, "Why did you leave your last job?" or "How much salary are you looking for?" The answers are out there. Try this web site for a start - interview.monster.com.
Also, it takes all of five minutes to visit Amazon.com and check out the reader feedback on top-selling interview books. If a book has multiple four- and five-star reviews, buy it or check it out of your local library. Cost to you: a few minutes and a few bucks (no charge if you use the library). Potential payback: thousands of dollars in new salary.
Second, you should never, ever walk into an interview not knowing the company, its products, its problems, its opportunities and its competitors. Again, the answers are out there. Use Google or your favorite search engine and spend an hour digging up enough facts to help you talk intelligently to your potential employer. Failure to do so will mark you as a half-hearted candidate ... and you will lose out to other, better-prepared job seekers. Every time.
So there you have it. Three things I would do to get hired if I had a gun to my head.
I hope your situation is never so desperate. But imaging a worst-case scenario like imminent execution can concentrate the mind wonderfully -- and turbo-charge your job search.
Now, go out and make your own luck!
Kevin Donlin is President of Guaranteed Resumes.
Since 1996, he and his team have provided resumes, cover letters and online job-search assistance to clients in all 50 states and 23 countries. Kevin has been interviewed by USA Today, CBS MarketWatch, The Wall Street Journal's National Business Employment Weekly, CBS Radio, and many others.
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