One common mistake I hear about often is related to contacting people about a potential job.
Let me set the stage for you.
Jonny Rocket is a 32 year old family practice physician. He’s board certified with 3.5 years of experience in urgent care settings. Jonny has worked in three different settings and hasn’t been happy at any of them. Either the culture is toxic, or he’s found his hours reduced because the company is using more PA’s and NP’s to save money on his salary.
Jonny asks around and he hears that other doctors have “dabbled” in non-clinical roles doing utilization review. He thinks he might like to try that work but isn’t sure how. One of the doctors he talks to tells him he works with a company called Accretive Healthcare and gives him the name and number of someone at Accretive Healthcare. That person’s name is Michael.
When I talked to Jonny, he had held onto Michael’s contact information for 8 months and had done nothing. Why? I asked. He told me he didn’t really know the doctor who had given him the name and he wasn’t even sure how to reach out. When I asked him how he might take that next step, Jonny said he thought he would email him and say something like, “I’m interested in a job at Accretive. Here is my resume. I look forward to hearing from you.”
What’s wrong with that approach? It sounds professional, right? He’s offered his resume and said some nice things.
Besides the fact that Jonny waited 8 months to contact Michael and there is a real possibility that Michael doesn’t even work for Accretive anymore, Jonny made a few common mistakes we all make because we don’t get this our medical education or training.
- Email works – but not always. Email fatigue is real. It’s possible there are blocks on incoming e-mails from strangers or this person receives so many e-mails each day that he won’t see it.
- Jonny should find Michael on Linked In (and other social media like Instagram) and attempt to connect with him. Not only will he learn more about this potential contact, he may be able to contact him through that method.
- Jonny should call or text Michael since he has his number. In addition to e-mail and social media, a call/text will often be the very best way – and the fastest way – to make progress.
Let’s talk about Jonny’s messaging. While polite and professional, his message will probably not be returned. People are busy with their own lives and problems. Do you think Jonny’s contact will see an e-mail from a stranger and immediately contact someone within his company to let them know Jonny wants a job there? I don’t know anyone who’s that kind or who has that kind of extra time on their hands.
Instead, Jonny should use this lead as ONE part of his fact-finding in ultimately getting a new job. He can send a short e-mail saying something like, “Hi Michael. A mutual friend gave me your contact info. I’m also a physician and I’m interested in doing some work for Accretive. Would you have 10-15 minutes to talk with me about how you like working there?”
Jonny should NOT attach his resume. No one likes an unsolicited resume pushed in their face.
Why does this sort of approach work?
First, Jonny is immediately establishing credibility and connection with this stranger. They know someone in common and Jonny is a doctor, so he may be qualified for the position.
Second, Jonny isn’t asking for a job. People get a strange feeling when asked outright for a job. They feel uncomfortable and pressured. It’s never a good idea to ask a stranger for a job for that reason. Instead, ask about the culture of an organization or how someone likes working there. People are much more likely to respond and start the process of getting to know you.
Third, Jonny establishes that he’s not looking to eat up a bunch of Michael’s time. Because of that, if Michael is reading his email ten minutes before his next meeting, he might just pick up the phone and call Jonny right then! Even if he doesn’t do that, Michael is much more likely to schedule a short call, knowing he’s not going to be on the hook for an hour of his time – with this stranger. The best thing about talking with Michael isn’t that he may take the next step to help Jonny get a job there – it’s for Jonny to learn more about the company and what Michael does. It’s possible Michael will call Jonny and through a conversation of whispered, hush tones tell him that the company culture stinks and he’s actually looking for another job!
People do inherently like to help others. They remember times when someone helped them or they understand we all need to support each other. I see it all the time. The way you approach them is important in tapping into that desire to help.