Do you know an awesome company, or a specific job you’d like to land, but you’re unsure how to get in the door? Maybe you know someone who works at the company, and they’ve even sent your resume to the hiring manager. But you still haven’t gotten an interview.
What gives? And, more importantly, is there something more you can do to get noticed?
Just after a speech I delivered in Philadelphia for Ultimate Software, Alexander, an audience member, asked, “What’s the trick to getting hired in sales at this company?”
Is there a trick to get the job you want?
“Trick?” I asked.
“Yeah, I’ve been trying to get a job with Ultimate Software for a while and I haven’t figured it out.”
Looking around, I asked if he’d talked to any of the sales professionals milling around the room. “Maybe consider asking one of them what company Ultimate Software is trying to do business with in Philly right now,” I suggested, “Then, see what you can do to help them land a contract. You’ll be doing the job you want you want Ultimate Software to hire you to do.”
(Side note: while this approach may not work for higher-level positions, it can be used with many entry-level positions. Once you’re in, repeat the process as you make your way into the opportunities you crave.)
How to find the job you want
As he was nodding his head, I shared about how I landed the opportunity to speak at this event.
“Months before I ever got a single opportunity to speak, I worked with a speaker coach, wrote the speech, and then performed it hundreds of times, at home—for my cats!”
With his full attention, I continued, “Each time I deliver this speech, I take it back to my coach and pay him to help me improve. I’ve been working at this speaking thing for fifteen years. A friend of mine says that in a couple more years I’ll be an overnight success.”
Do the thing, and you will have the power
Ralph Waldo Emerson wrote this years ago, and it remains as true now (perhaps more so) than it did when he wrote it.
Said simply, there is no better way to land the opportunities you crave than to cheerfully show up and do the work you want to do (whether you’re being paid or not). By focusing on doing the work you want to do, you put the energy in motion to capture the opportunity.
But I’ve got bills to pay! How can I do the job without getting paid for it?
Many of you reading this may not remember a little company called Napster. At one point in the late 1990’s and early 2000’s, Napster was the end-all-be-all of music downloading services. However, they kept offering their services for free (probably for too long). Instead of working with the artists whose music they were giving away for free, they (at times) took a somewhat adversarial approach to those artists. Most notably, Metallica filed huge lawsuits against Napster, and eventually the service went by the wayside.
Contrast that with the service that was eventually offered by iTunes. iTunes created a platform where the artists could distribute their music more easily, through devices like the iPod, software like iTunes, and ultimately through the iPhone. We take all of this for granted today, but it took some significant meetings and effort for iTunes to build the partnerships (and avoid the lawsuits) that came with building the iTunes platform.
In the end, iTunes found a way to solve the problem for consumers and artists. As a result, they continue to profit greatly.
Get the job by being like iTunes
Just like iTunes (and not like Napster), your best bet is to find a way to work with the people and companies who see a value in what you have to offer. By doing the work, you will find allies. But take note… If you do the work multiple times, providing value and service to others, but they don’t see the value you bring (or worse they take an adversarial approach to your enthusiasm), then perhaps this isn’t the right company or the right opportunity. Don’t let that stop you from continuing to do the work. Just look for new ways, or new places, to offer your service.
So many people worry about getting paid, instead of just doing the work. Focus on doing the work, helping others succeed, and watch as they turn to you and say, “I don’t expect (or want) you to do this for free. Let’s find a way to compensate you.”
5 simple steps to getting the jobs you want
- Listen for their point of pain/struggle. If your goal is to land a sales position, this step can be as simple as figuring out what company they’re trying to land as a customer.
- Look for ways to help. What is the problem they have, and what ideas, connections, or know-how do you have that might help them with their problem?
- Do the work. Offer suggestions, resources, or make introductions that may help, with no strings attached.
- Say “Thank you.” Thanking them for giving you the opportunity to help (whether you’re being paid initially or not) is an excellent way to demonstrate your genuine love for the work.
- Repeat. Listen again, look for an additional way to help, and then do the work again, cheerfully, knowing that even if it doesn’t lead you to this particular opportunity, it’s paving the way for your next opportunity.
Do this enough times (with the time and resources you have available to you) and people will start wondering why you’re not working with them or their company. They will see the value you bring, and they will find a way to work with you, even if funds are initially tight.
Have you ever landed an opportunity this way? I’d love to hear your story. Pop me an email at Misti at MistiBurmeister.com.
Here’s to your greatness,