Recently I’ve seen several job search messages posted on LinkedIn. Often they follow the format:
“Seeking employment in the [city] area where I can use my sociology degree and have an opportunity to grow. I’d like to work in a nonprofit theatre organization but I am open to anything. I was just laid off from a position in …”
That’s a very effective way to begin a dialogue with your career coach when you’re facing a tough job search. But “I’m looking for a job” is not an attention-grabber unless you are in a very specialized network, where demand for your specialty is greater than supply.
(1) Focus on what you can offer your employer.
Here’s where your job search calls for copywriting skills. What are the benefits you offer? How can you translate your talents into benefits?
For example: “If you know of a theater group that needs someone to add energy to their membership drives, please send me the info. I’ve volunteered for theater companies so I know what motivates audience members to join as paying subscribers. I’ve been employed in a company as a data administrator so I can create online systems to manage memberships…”
See the difference? Now you’re focusing on your employer, not you and your job search.
(2) Ask for information, not advice.
For example, you can say, “I am compiling a list of theater companies that hire specialists for membership management.”
Books like What Color Is Your Parachute can be misleading. The truth is, these days people are busy. They just don’t have time to offer free mentoring. If you want advice, you probably have to pay; even university career services often charge alumni.
Anyway, how do you know if you’re getting good advice? Just because someone’s been in business 20 years doesn’t mean they’ll understand what you need to get started in the 21st century.
(3) Get referrals from your networks (and follow through).
When I lived in Seattle, a recent graduate from my own university arrived in town. She began attending networking events. She wanted to work in an art museum, using her art history degree. She asked everyone she knew, “Do you know someone who works at an art museum?” Eventually she got names and contacts and followed through. Today she works in the education department of a museum just outside Seattle – a job she loves.
Why was she successful when so many others were not?
She was well-qualified. She was persistent. And she followed through. She called every single referral. You don’t know which will be The One.
(4) Demonstrate your expertise by answering questions in networks, not by asking them.
Find a LinkedIn group related to nonprofits or even marketing to nonprofits. Begin answering questions. You can hint that you are looking for a job and also post your resume.
(5) Don’t wait to get employed. Start working before your job search is over!
While waiting for employment, keep busy. If you want to work in the nonprofit sector, keep volunteering. Often volunteers become paid employees. If you want to work in the for-profit sector, come up with ways to free lance, even on a small scale.
Don’t worry about the prestige of the job. If you can clean a home efficiently, you can start a company; you may even expand into professional organizing. If you feel comfortable with computers, seek out some opportunities to earn money on the Internet.
If you know how to work with dogs and cats (not to mention their owners), you’ve got a ready income stream. Recently I met a young woman who runs a pet-sitting service. To the horror of her parents, she quit her teaching job because she makes more money as a pet-sitter. She has no more room to offer one-hour walks: her schedule is booked. She has people working for her. Some of her clients want twice a day visits … for their cats.
For a consultation on how you can apply these ideas, see