There is an extended joke I heard a while back about a man who experienced a flight cancellation. As a matter of fact, he was not alone. The line was long and as the minutes turned to an hour, he was getting angrier and angrier.
When he finally got to the head of the line he demanded to be rebooked immediately. When he met with resistance to this idea, he screamed at the ticket agent: “Do you know who I am?” Without missing a beat, the ticket agent grabbed her microphone and announced to the assembled crowd: “I have a man at the head of the line who doesn’t know who he is. If you recognize him, please come forward.”
All of us in this world want to feel important. And, we want everyone who deals with us to treat us with respect and courtesy, even when they really don’t know who we are. (Or, how important we really are or think we are.)
When you are job searching, there are many occasions when you are treated with disrespect. There are the phone calls that are never returned. There are the email messages that we know were opened but not responded to. (Honestly, how hard is it to hit reply and type out something?)
So, if this is how you feel on the receiving end, let me ask you to focus for a moment on how well you are doing with your communications with others. The question is whether or not you are actually making every effort to let people know that you know who they are and how important they are.
Your goal in your job search is to always keep your communications personal. And, in today’s electronic world, it is easier than ever. One of the easiest mechanical solutions is to purchase a contact database program to keep track of the many networking contacts you will make on this current search and on all of your future ones.
A good contact database system allows you to make notes about your conversations and messages so that you don’t sound uninformed when they call you back. I know some of you are notorious penny pinchers, but keeping your job search contacts in an Excel spreadsheet is just plain silly. I can assure you that after 50 people, you are out of control.
The FENG database is currently maintained in a My SQL database. It is my personal design and has served me well. Rather than reinvent the wheel, I would highlight a very fine program called ACT! There are also other very fine programs that do the same thing, I am just not familiar with them.
Doesn’t matter what you use, as long as you have a proper tool to get the job done.
To finish the thought about keeping things personal, consider how you feel when you receive a communication that begins: “Dear job applicant”
For you to write a note such as: Dear FENG member, is not only a violation of all that is common sense, it is also “against company policy.” One of the reasons it is particularly silly is that The FENG membership directory gives you plenty of opportunity to personalize.
You may not have a lot of information about the rest of the world, but within The FENG you have no excuse.
Personally addressed communications make the recipient feel important and therefore more open to helping you. Those of you who have tips and suggestions on how to implement this magic are invited to share their thoughts by sending a note to [email protected] for publication in our Notes from Members section.
I do hope you will take the time to do so.