Saturday, August 18, 2012

Show Up and Stand Out

Earlier today I spoke with my niece about her job search. Compared to most that I assist with these days, her search is very much in the professional arena. She is an educator, experienced in the classroom (elementary education) with master's degree and specialist certifications.

She is looking for a position due to a recent move to a college town where her husband's family home recently (and rather suddenly) became their family home. His business is transportable so she took a one year leave of absence from her teaching position and they moved lock-stock-and-barrel. And love it!

Still she wants to work and they can use the extra income. Furthermore, she has a very solid professional career to nurture. Sticking with her trade, she is doing substitute teaching. The assignments are available regularly and it positions her with the local school system. All good.

But she'd really like to get her foot in the door at the local university where there are open positions. She's made application and followed up with HR. Now what?

Ah, professional jobs. HR departments, hiring committees, bureaucracies, how to play this?

Sit back and wait, professionally?


She's already taken the first step by trying to determine which departments are hiring, something not always clear by the way job postings are written. HR has been helpful by giving her a few names to get the process started. The next step is to go in and introduce herself.

There are lots of reasons to do this, here are a few.

To demonstrate interest and initiative

If she wants it, show it. This is rather easy because she's local. Doing so doesn't require a long drive or plane trip, all she has to do is drive across town.

To do some marketing

She is attractive, professional and likable from the get-go. People hire people they like. Okay, walk in and be liked.

To do recon
Frankly she doesn't know much about the open positions and the decisions makers associated with each. Other than the bits and pieces available though HR and whatever can be found on the university website, she's on her own. How about just walking in and finding out?

Certainly she will continue to do what all the other professionals do by applying, sending resumes, calling HR (maybe), following up with HR (maybe) - but come on, that's all? Why be so reactive, why sit around waiting to be picked? 

No, that won't do. She is a free agent running solo in a new community looking for a way to sell her services to a willing buyer. There are indeed services that she has to offer but going about things as a professional, in a professional manner (which usually means waiting way too much) won't distinguish her. She must show up and stand out.

I write this from Las Vegas, the land of bookmaking and odds calculation. In my view the odds clearly favor playing to her attributes and location, which means going for the introduction.

Travel well.
John Jeffrey Lundell

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