For decades, I’ve been happy to meet with friends – or their referrals – who are “in transition,” in a difficult, awkward time between jobs. Occasionally, I see people who remain employed, but are either under-employed or have that intuitive “gut feeling” that the job is at risk. Helping in such situations has become a “skill set.”
“Tithing My Time” in Pro Bono Job-Finding Counsel to the “In Transition”
Little is more painful to see than someone tormented by the prospect or reality of job loss, and the loss or erosion of income that’s critical to keep a household afloat, and fulfill one’s obligations as a spouse, parent or whatever.
It’s a great way for me to help people, and, as someone active in my faith and in my church, I regard it as “tithing my time,” that is, giving time by giving valuable counsel to those in need.
When I give job-finding counsel pro bono that way, I’m happy to exchange ideas re: Strategy, Positioning, Markets, Trends, etc., and that usually occurs in the context of a 1-hour to 2-hour timeframe.
Given (1) my functional background and competency value in Strategy, Branding, Positioning and Marketing, as well as (2) the “asset value” of my Market Knowledge, Credibility and Access in both the “horizontal” geography of my Greater Philadelphia market as well as the “vertical” industries where I enjoy broad and deep relationships…
Friend-Developed Job-Finding Business Model
A friend “in transition” just a few years ago encouraged me to develop a Business Model to help him (and others).
Frankly, I’d never ever wanted to charge for such help, because I know for that “friend in transition,” such an expenditure is “Risk Capital,” since no one can guarantee placement in a job, and dollars can be hard to find. As an ethical principle, I’ve never wanted to be in a position where my work would “take food off the table,” even when I was confident of adding value, and a friend wanted that value added.
Together we developed a model based on Success Fee compensation to me that reduces – and can altogether eliminate – Risk Capital from the process.
Typically, it’s based on two core concepts, (a) Branding / Marketing / Positioning, and (b) Targeted Strategic Introductions to Potential Employers / Centers of Influence. Some groups charge significant front-end and periodic retainer fees, with no guarantees, and counsel someone on “their offering,” plus navigational tips in the job-hunting marketplace.
4 Components in an Assisted Job Search
Basically, I look at 4 components of the process that are 2nd Nature to me, that are an intuitive extension of what I just described, and they are…
- “Warm-Lead” Introductions & Advocacy, including Targeted Prospective Employers & Centers of Influence
- Research & Strategy for a Targeted Job-Hunt, with focus on Job / Level, Employer(s) & Geography
- “Thought-Leadership” Branding, Positioning & Marketing
- “Best Face Forward” Prep, with a focus on com and Resume Efficacy
Using a Good ~ Better ~ Best paradigm, let me outline the essence.
- Good: “Warm-Lead” Introductions, the core element…
- Better: Good + “Thought-Leadership” Branding, Positioning & Marketing, to improve your candidacy…
- Better: Good + either “Best-Face Forward” Prep LinkedIn / Resume, to improve your candidacy…
- Best:: Good + (2) “Thought Leadership” Branding & (3) “Best-Face Forward”
- Comprehensive: Best + (2) Research & Strategy for the Targeted Job-Hunt, when it’s not intuitive
And here is more detail on them, which I’ve arranged in order of “affordability” and relevance…
- Good: “Warm-Lead” Introductions…
For those who I feel I can help, I’ll do a “no-retainer” program, where my comp is “success-fee based,” since it represents “found money” for the Job Hunter, found sooner, because of me, with 15% of the projected annual comp in the first year paid out 5%/mo for each of the first 3 months. This is the core part of the program.
For example, someone earning $120K, or $10K/mo, would pay $5K/mo for each of the first 3 months, “pay when paid,” meaning they’d keep some of their paycheck, after deductions, but otherwise pay me for the “finding / placement success” from those first 3 months, which would not have been there “if not but for” Sam. And that reflects another important principle, Value-Sharing.
Basically, we leverage my “market knowledge, credibility and access,” and I “tee up” strategically targeted “warm lead introductions,” with a focus on 8-10 contacts or so, which can give you a pretty intensive follow-up period for the next 6 weeks or so.
Included are not only prospective employers, but “centers of influence” who occupy a position where they can identify 2 or 3 others who may be of help to you. My comp comes from the success of either, the employers or the centers of influence who refer you themselves to a 2nd level, or a 3rd level or an nth level, and it relies on the integrity of your self-reporting to me. Whether the job goes on for a year, or a decade, or more, the service is paid for upon hiring.
- Better: Good + either “Best-Face Forward” Prep LinkedIn / Resume
This is Candidate Preparation for the Candidate who needs a fair amount of help on LinkedIn or Resume, or both. “Story-Telling” is an essential variable in today’s Job Search, and both your LinkedIn profile as well as your Resume needs to “Tell Your Story.” It’s essential! Many excellent candidates are held back by either, or both.
In today’s Job-Finding for the Professional / Manager / Executive, an arguable case can be made that the LinkedIn profile is even more important than the Resume. When the “Warm-Lead” Introduction is made, whether by me, or by someone else, it most often results in a link to or a search of LinkedIn. In fact, for years, I’ve counseled friends and clients using a Networking / Targeted Prospective Employer Strategy not to send the resume, but rather to let LinkedIn speak for her / him.
For a good Job Hunter, who networks well, the LinkedIn profile does the job-finding, and the Resume is what the Hiring Manager has the Candidate send to HR that “checks the box” and closes the deal. But both have to effectively “tell the Candidate’s story!”
This is handled strictly by a modest Retainer fee of $2.5K that pays for the service, and any necessary tweaking as the search continues. No “Success Fee” is sought, simply because as an intangible, it’s almost impossible to attribute a specific success to either, beyond being hired.
- Better: Good + “Thought-Leadership” Branding, Positioning & Marketing
Ordinarily, the Retainer for that would be $4K, and the Success Fee is based on whether we get it in print (targeted outlets might be PHL Inquirer, PHL Business Journal, Wilmington News Journal, Delaware Business Times, or others), in a way that it enhances your candidacy.
We differentiate in Success Fee between a “basic hit,” which would be $2.5K Success Fee or a “major hit,” e.g., a news feature with your photo, or a story longer than 6 inches of copy, or an OpEd. Often that Success Fee can go as high as $10K, with the hope we’d work together when we get you a job.
We don’t differentiate between Media Outlet, because the Critical Value comes not from the hope that a Prospective Employer might read that, but rather that, when you or I “tee up” an intro of you, we “leverage” a link to that article that immediately enhances your credibility, and makes you a more desirable candidate, one with a distinction.
Like the old Physics question, “if a tree falls in the forest, and no one is there to hear it, does it make a noise?” this is an approach that’s designed to make certain “it makes a noise,” by including it in the “teed up” introductions.
- Best:: Good + (2) “Best-Face Forward” & (3) “Thought Leadership” Branding
Both have been described, but for the proactive candidate, we’ll combine the Retainer into a significant discounted price of $5K, with the Success Fee as indicated above for the Thought-Leadership branding.
- Comprehensive: Best + (2) Research & Strategy
This precedes and continues throughout, with a focus on both improving the Success Rate by improved targeting, message development, and story-telling. It adds an additional modest Retainer of $2.5K, with a modest Success Fee of $5K if / when a job is found, if it is found beyond the leads that we identify and “tee up” as the “warm-lead introduction.”
Please feel free to give me a call if you have a question on anything I’ve covered. If you decide you’d like to go forward with something more proactive in a Job Search, let’s set up some time ASAP where I can fit it in now — last couple of months have been a blur — and get it done.
Having said that, it goes without saying, that I will (a) keep you in mind, (b) hold onto your materials, and (c) reference for you where that’s helpful.