The Six P’s of Job Search

By Connie English-

Job searching can be frustrating, particularly in the summer when meetings and decisions tend to be postponed by vacationing decision makers. Delays have not deterred some recent Darden graduates from effectively hunting for their first job out of school. Alumni Career Services has had the pleasure of assisting our newest alumni this summer … and the recent flurry of job search success among this group has reinforced the need to follow what I’ll call the “Six P’s of Job Search”: Be Phocused, Prepared, Persistent, Personal, Patient and Positive. Let me share the advice I recently passed onto the 2010 grads still looking and applies to anyone who has been searching a while:

Phocused: At this point in your search you may think you need to widen your net, but in most cases it would be better for you to stay (or get) more focused. If you concentrate on specific segments you can portray yourself as an A+ candidate and rise above the crowd. You can accentuate your strengths in a targeted, relevant manner that will make you the BEST candidate for fewer jobs. After all, no one is looking for a “pretty good” candidate for many jobs! Being focused also helps others understand better how they can best help you. Being focused includes knowing what segments you are targeting so that you can name companies that are of interest to you.

Prepared: You would not go to an interview unprepared, right? Well, preparation for networking meetings with people you know is even more important. You are most likely to land your job through a referral from someone who is acquainted with you and is willing to vouch for you to a hiring manager. So, every time you meet with someone, it is imperative that you prep for that meeting by knowing how that person might be able to help you (and how you might help them), what business sectors on your target list that person might have connections to, questions about business aspects of some of the companies (other than “are they hiring!” or “do they have any openings”) and even descriptions of jobs in which you are interested.

Persistent: “I e-mailed him, and he didn’t respond so I guess I should move on.” This is a common sentiment I’ve heard from graduates, but you need to realize that you are dealing with very busy people and sometimes polite persistence will make the difference. Take, for example, one Darden alumnus who was rejected after a long stream of interviews with a company. He thanked the contacts he had made there and started to convert them into networking connections. When the chosen candidate turned the company down, guess who became the replacement? That’s right, the guy who persevered!

Personal: Personal introductions and referrals are priceless. One recent grad landed his “dream job” after having a professor who knew him well make the introduction to a hiring manager (who happened to be a family member.) The professor’s introduction trumped any kind of screening process. When hiring, managers want to draw on the actual experiences of others. You need to energize people who know you to make introductions in a personal way.

Patient: Don’t give up and don’t expect people to be able to respond within five minutes or even a day. Networking is relationship building and that does not happen overnight. If you work at building relationships, the payoff usually occurs in the second or third contact with that person. Also, particularly in the summer, hiring processes tend to stretch out because decision makers and/or recruiters take vacation. Be patient and continue to stay in touch.

Positive: A positive attitude can be more important than your credentials. No one wants to work with someone who will bring them down. If you are sending negative vibes others will be turned off. While job searching can be frustrating, always look for the silver lining in every situation. Others will feel the positive energy and want to help out.

If a job candidate follows the job search process and incorporates these “Six P’s,” opportunities will arise. Alumni Career Services career counselors are ready to help you with your job search and career management challenges. Contact us to set up an appointment.

Connie Dato English (MBA ’91)
Director of Darden Alumni Career Services