I’m celebrating my fifth anniversary as a small business owner in suburban Chicago. As many have learned before me, I have quickly learned for myself that talent is the biggest asset. Our team is currently in a very solid place and our business is increasing as a result.
We are constantly seeking good talent. Just this week, I reached out to a person I had interviewed previously. He asked me what made me think of him after three years. My answer was simple, in the past, he was proactive. He sought me out and we meshed well personally.
Believe it or not, I can count on one hand the number of people who have approached my company for a job in the past five years. This despite the fact that I’ve had about 10 people working for me at various levels.
So here’s the secret: apply at companies you want to work for, regardless of whether they are hiring or not. The truth is they are always looking for the right person, not necessarily to replace current employees, but to add to their team. If you’re willing to do part-time or start at a lower salary, they may be able to make room for you.
My interviewee is willing to do those things and because he showed initiative, even three years ago, he’s hard to forget.
My advice for college graduates and aspiring career changers is to reach out to business owners and offer to take them to lunch, in exchange for meeting with them. They can’t help but take pity on you, they like the attention, and like to impart their knowledge.
This puts you past “gate keepers” and in front of someone that can easily find you a job, refer you to others, or hire you down the road. You don’t look desperate – you look interested. And just think of all the time you saved not having to fill out applications!