Q&A With Pete Leibman, Author of “I Got My Dream Job and So Can You

“Dear Pete: I’m in the middle of a job search, and a friend just referred me to someone who works for one of my target companies. Should I include my resume and cover letter when I contact this person?”

Pete’s Response:

Here’s the short answer: No!

The trademark and mantra of sales expert, Jeffrey Gitomer, is People don’t like to be sold, but they love to buy. Remember this throughout your job search. Unless an employer is publicly advertising a job opening, be subtle in your approach.

Starting a conversation with someone you don’t know by jamming your resume down his throat looks really desperate and will be perceived as rude and annoying. This common, yet ineffective approach is why networking gets a bad rap. Most people try to sell themselves too soon, and they turn off potential networking leads. Then, they complain that networking doesn’t work, without realizing that it’s their approach that’s the problem.

You have to know when to sell yourself and when to play it cool. Asking someone you don’t know if his organization is hiring (or sending your resume to someone you don’t know before building any rapport with him/her) is analogous to walking up to someone on the street and immediately asking if he/she is looking for a new mate. There are MUCH better ways to break the ice.

When you sell yourself too soon, there are 2 likely scenarios. You will either be met with a stall tactic (i.e. “You can send your resume to HR”) or a flat-out rejection (i.e. “Sorry, we are not hiring now”). The stall tactic sends you to the black hole with every other job-seeker and lumps you into the category of “desperate, low-value candidates.” The rejection leaves you no next step, other than a lame response like, “Well, can I follow-up with you in the future in case anything changes?”

When you play it cool and simply ask someone for their advice, you invite the person into a low-pressure conversation. Then, once you meet with them or get them on the phone, you can build rapport/trust first as you ask intelligent questions and take a genuine interest in their advice.

“Playing it cool” with someone you don’t know is MUCH more likely to result in job leads and additional referrals than an aggressive pitch too soon in the process. Still skeptical? Well, this strategy is how I landed my dream job in the front-office for an NBA team as a 21 year-old student, how I landed multiple 6-figure offers during the recession, and how I landed a book deal last year with a NY publisher.

This surprisingly rare approach works! Stop “selling yourself” right away to people who don’t know you and start “playing it cool” by asking for advice instead. You’ll be pleasantly surprised with the results…


Pete Leibman is the Founder of Dream Job Academy and the Author of the new book titled “I Got My Dream Job and So Can You.” His career advice has been featured on Fox, CBS, and CNN, and he is a popular Keynote Speaker at career events for college students and at conferences for people who work with college students. To learn how you can bring Pete to speak to your group, email him directly at [email protected].