Better Job Search: Lessons from Contractors

I’ve worked with a lot of contractors over the years, and have always come to a conclusion that if a contractor wants to get a job, they simply need to (a) show up, and (b) submit a proposal in a timely manner. Those are two things that, if not done, will almost always keep a contractor out of the running.

Recently I had a different experience where I searched for, evaluated, hired, and paid for a contractor completely online, sight-unseen, and with me not there to observe the work. I got an invoice when the work was done, and responded back that since I was out of state, and not present, I’d like some proof the work was done. Maybe pictures, or a summary, or something to that effect. This, by the way, was for gutter cleaning…

Immediately I got an email with a couple dozen pictures of my roof, and the before/afters of my gutters. I promptly paid my bill, but it made me think about a full-service customer experience that I was expecting, and how that could relate to a job search.

I had an expectation that my work would be done well. We all expect that of people we hire to do work for us, right? Come in, do the job well, and then leave. I’m confident I hired a good company and the tech did great work. Why? Because of the pictures. The quantity and the breadth of the pictures. I didn’t know he would take pictures, but he did, and it was easy for them to send them to me when I asked.

This is more than just our ability… this is about communciation. As job seekers we know we are capable and competent. I remember thinking, “just look at my resume and you’ll know I can do the job!” I was sure I was the best person for the job… but the problem was my communication was week. I can’t expect you to “just look at my resume,” especially when you have dozens of other resumes that look similar, and come to the same conclusion I came to. To have a better job search, a more effective job search, I need to improve my communication. You are expert in your field? How are you communicating that? This is why my personal branding course on Pluralsight is so important. Personal branding is all about effectively communicating our abilities and capabilities well.

Speaking of communication, I’ve had contractors come to my house to get information to bid on projects. They would leave and tell me they’d send me my bid soon… and so I’d wait. I’d wait and wait and wait and never got the numbers. Or, I’d get numbers and then call or email with some questions and not hear back. I need good, continual, open communication. I’m not saying you, as a job seeker, have to be available outside of reasonable hours. I’m not saying you need to provide free consulting, or spend hours on endless calls, but one communication is not enough. Building on personal branding, we are talking about networking. Not the superficial, go nowhere networking, but real relationship building. Develop and nurture relationships with multiple contact points, whether they are emails or calls or other meetings. If I have two contractors who both sent me bids (think: resumes), and one drops off the face of the earth while the other is in continual (but not annoying) communication, guess who I’m going to go with (everything else being equal)?

Speaking again of communication, please follow up. When I got my invoice from this service provider I was left wondering, “Did they do the job? How can I verify that?” This is where we move away from assumptions… assuming they know, they trust, etc, and show proof. If you talk about something you have experience in in an interview, or a networkk meeting, maybe follow up with more information. “Hey Jane, yesterday we were talking about building new programs to increase employee satisfaction. I wanted to follow up with some thoughts and a story…” Don’t write a novel but make it clear that yes, you indeed have experience and even passion in building programs to increase employee satisfaction. That follow up shows me you liked our conversation, you have evaluated me as an employer and want to work with or for me, and that you are passionate about this project. If I’m the only person who follows up, don’t you think I’ll stand out way above the other candidates? You betcha!

Contractors have a tough situation. They put in a lot of work for bids they never get. They’ll do walk throughs and spend hours on proposals, only to be ghosted by their prospects. Same with us, as job seekers. We go to interviews, we network, we put in a lot of thought, and too often we get too emotionally involved (I get that, trust me, I get it).

I’m asking you to be more thoughtful about what kind of experience you are giving to people on the other side of the table… people who are evaluating a lot of resumes and interviewees, and help them have a delightful, full-service experience. This could have a huge impact on your job search effectiveness.

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