In Step 5, you should either have been invited to interview, or received a ‘PFO’ response (ie. politely told that they have no interest in hiring you).
The key to this Seven Step process is not taking ‘No’ for an answer. Or rather, moving quickly from asking for a job interview to asking for an information meeting.
So, if you get a PFO response, call them to say:
“Thank you for your quick response. I completely understand that you have no plans to hire within your own company. But I’m still keen to find a job in this area, so I was wondering if you or one of your colleagues would be willing to help me by meeting me for 20 minutes for information only – not a job interview. I would really appreciate it if I could tap into your expertise , and ask you some questions about some of the other companies in your sector, and how I could increase my chances of finding a job in one of them”.
If necessary just read that as a script, and then STAY SILENT! Silence is a powerful tool. Let them squirm. Do not offer them any excuses by filling the silence with eg. ‘Of course, if you’re too busy…etc.’
If you were asked to send your e-mail to someone else in the company other than the hiring manager – probably an HR manager – then you will probably get the PFO from someone other than your original manager. In which case, simply call the original manager up with the script above but start it with:
“I’m just following up on a conversation we had a couple of days ago., when your referred me to [Joe Bloggs]. He has let me know that you are doing no hiring at the moment. I completely understand that there are no plans to hire….. etc. then continue with the script above.
As it happens, when you ask for a meeting even after receiving the PFO, four things will work in your favour:
- first of all, people hate saying No;
- secondly, people like helping other people if they can do so without too much personal cost; and
- thirdly, people like to be seen as experts and to have the chance to show off their expertise.
- fourthly, you will probably be the only person who has ever asked them to meet in this way – which hopefully will pique their curiosity.
When I tried this, I found that about two in five people said yes to an information meeting, even though they had just told me they didn’t want to meet for a job interview.
If they still don;t want to meet, then just politely thank them for their time, and leave it there – pressing further will probably just irritate them. But hopefully at least some of them will say ‘Yes’.
What to say if you do get a meeting:
You can cover similar ground to the Information Meeting agenda set out in Step 4 – Phone a Friend. Do not try to turn it into a de facto job interview. This is genuinely just an information meeting.
But don’t forget the two important final steps:
At the end of your meeting, thank them for their time. Tell them you really appreciate their insights. Now steel yourself and ask if they know anyone else whom they could recommend you to meet for a similar 20 meeting to hear their views. Or better still, do they know of any firms in hiring mode?
When you get home, send them a thank you note by e-mail and/or a quick thank you note by snail mail. Keep a note of their name. If you do finally get a job, e-mail or write them a note letting them know and thanking them for their help in that process.
Now go to Step 7 – Try, Try, and Try Again.