Marketing & Selling

Entrepreneurs' Primer on Marketing, Advertising, and Selling

Job Hunting 101: A Model of the Selling Process When the "Product" is You

By: Terry Collison, Blue Rock Capital

In the National Business Employment Weekly, the best single article I ever read about finding a job began with a paragraph containing 100 words.  The first 99 were “no” and the 100th word  was “yes.”

The article went on to explain that this paragraph is a model of the job-hunting process. It also struck me as a model of the selling process and of pursuing lots of other novel things worth achieving.

The article’s author observed that most job-hunters mistakenly develop a “conservative” strategy that they believe to be more “efficient” and respectful of their limited time, their limited energies, and their finite resource.  But if their goal is to minimize the elapsed time required in their search process, then, paradoxically, their strategy turns out to be exactly the opposite of what they should be doing.

After a handful of enthusiastic initial “try-everything/respond-to-every-opportunity” efforts, most job-hunters say to themselves something like “Hey, this is nuts.  If I focus my resources on qualifying opportunities more thoroughly before I present myself at the door, I should be able to increase the probability of being successful and really ending up with something that represents a good ‘fit’ for my skills and interests and the way others are likely to see me as an asset.”  Flawless logic; lousy outcome.

Job-hunting involves a process that satisfies all the criteria of being a complex system (multi-variant, fluid interaction, not all factors being knowable; most factors being well beyond the control of the “central” player, i.e., the job-seeker).  It is axiomatic that complex systems function counter-intuitively.

Given this insight (taken here on faith), it follows that one does not want to attempt to focus on a specific type of situation or attempt to pre-qualify any particular opportunity (what-the-hell are you really going to be able to find out beforehand, anyway?) or even (dare one admit it to oneself?) try to avoid being rejected once again.

Because you cannot, by definition, have any meaningful information about just how long the search process will take (absolutely the only thing you can possibly know with any certainty is that when you have found the right “fit” the process will be over), it follows that your only sound strategy is to attempt to get rejected as frequently and as rapidly as possible.  Your “success rate” at being rejected consti­tutes the only bona fide measure of your making true progress in the search process.

To grasp what this means, start filling out the chart on page 6 (99 “No"s followed by that lovely “Yes”).  If you use this as a log of your activities and as a guide to your strategy, it will also serve, automatically, as an index (and as a concrete indicator to you) of your actual progress.  Trust me.  It changes your whole outlook... makes you think straight... turns you into a creative strategist again.  And if you hit a rough spot along the way, as Miles observed to Joel in Risky Business, sometimes you just gotta take a break and say “Screw it!  Ya know?"


This "model" of the job hunting process applies to "regular" selling as well


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