Maximize Yield

I met with a brilliant scientist last week who took time from her schedule to explain her work to me and some of her success measures. An important measure is the yield realized from the various steps in her processes. Each step needs to deliver the most usable product for the next, so there is something valuable at the end of the chain. Avoiding explosions is good, too.

This effort is very similar to the work the people do when they are looking for new jobs. The seeker’s mission is to increase the probability that she will make it through the long and painstaking hiring process by maximizing the yield of everything she does. This means taking nothing for granted and working harder than everyone else to secure a job offer. Here are a few reminders on how to do this.

Customize your Communication. Every job opportunity needs communication that is tailored to the message’s recipient. If you will not take the time to customize your cover letter, resume and all other correspondence, someone else who is willing to do the hard work will get the offer while you stare at your not-ringing telephone.

Network in Person. LinkedIn is great, but it doesn’t replace face-to-face relationships. If you can’t meet in person, make a quick phone call. Have a pre-written message to deliver to voice mail.

Thank You. Mom taught you to say it. Do it every time someone is generous enough to give you some time. Did a contact take your call? Follow up with a thank you email. Did you get an interview? Send a well written thank you note or letter by snail mail. Don’t overlook this step. It shows that you follow through and pay attention to the details. Many of your competitors will not do this.

Ask for Feedback. Should you be fortunate enough to get an interview but not the job, and you talk with a person about the decision, ask for feedback about your interview and what the hiring decision makers thought were your strengths and weaknesses. You may learn something that will help you next time.

Just as my scientist friend works to maximize yield at every step of the way, think about how you can maximize the yield of the work that you are doing. Are you doing everything possible to increase your chances of success? Or are you taking shortcuts and inviting a potential job search blow-up?

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