Everyone's done the "throw everything at the wall and see what sticks" approach to job searching. Did it work for you? My guess is it brought in some leads, maybe some offers, but nothing approaching what you're looking for. Am I warm?
So what's a better plan? Try this. But if that still can't seem to get you anywhere, here's an "outta the box" idea that may gain you some traction:
Mystery shop a store for a company that you want to work for.
What? You want me to work as a mystery shopper? That's no career! Well, that's up for debate, but no, I'm not suggesting you work as a mystery shopper. I'm suggesting you try something like the following (this example is someone looking for a store manager position):
1. Identify a company that you'd love to work for - your ideal retailer (preferably one that's growing so they are more likely to have opportunities available).
2. Create your own mystery shopping report. Make a list of everything you think is important, keeping in mind that not all retailers have the same business model (some are sales-focused, others may be more merchandise-focused). Here are just a few things you may want to list:
3. Go to one of their locations and conduct a secret shop. View the store from the outside and make notes as needed. Go in and assess all the criteria listed on your report. Make a small purchase and test their service levels.
4. Fill out the report as best as possible, and try to remain positive at all times. The goal is to identify areas for potential improvement while also praising the areas where the store excelled. The purpose isn't to "expose" weak employees or disparage the store. Stay professional at all times, and watch your ego (it's easy to let yourself feel a bit superior when judging others).
5. Find out who the district or regional manager may be for the area you'd like to work in (search on LinkedIn, call a store, etc.) and send them an introductory email. Here's an example:
I am a senior store manager with more than 10 years' experience in the fashion industry with J.Crew, Banana Republic, and Ann Taylor, and I am currently on the lookout for my next great adventure.
I have long admired your company and am impressed with the fact that you're opening 18 new stores over the next year (link to news article). I have opened 4 new stores in the last 5 years myself, and have driven each one to top rankings in the district on the overall performance scorecard. As such, I am very confident that I can make a positive impact with your company.
In order to learn more about your business model, I took the liberty of visiting your Markville Mall store last Saturday to conduct my own secret shop. I came away quite impressed with the store and the staff, but I also identified a few areas of opportunity that I'd be happy to share with you.
Would you like to meet for coffee this week to discuss my findings? I'd be happy to present you with a copy of my detailed report and share some ideas I have.
I look forward to your reply.
At the meeting, provide her with a copy of your report and discuss your evaluation. Remember, focus on the positive and state your case in a professional manner. If you come across as a know-it-all, it will just backfire on you. Show confidence, not cockiness. Then steer the conversation to how you can help. (Make sure to take a copy of your resume and your portfolio as well, just in case. Prepare for a standard "interview" in case it turns out to be one.)
If they're not interested in meeting, offer to email your report. Then follow up a week later to discuss it.
Is this guaranteed to get you a job? Of course not, but nothing is ever guaranteed in a job search. But what it may do is give you an opportunity to demonstrate your knowledge and experience to someone who is in a position of power. It gives you a chance to prove yourself, and that's what all hiring managers and recruiters want - as much "proof" as possible that you have the talent to do the job.
Show them you have what it takes and your days of throwing everything against the wall may be over.
Best of luck!
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