How to Network with Your Target Employers, with Claudia Bruce-Quartey

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In a crowded job market, if you don’t stand out, you’ll miss out. The best way to network with target employers is by getting clear on your values, says Find Your Dream Job guest Claudia Bruce-Quartey. Know the type of company culture that brings out your best. Claudia also suggests you practice questions to ask in these conversations and also how you will share the value you can bring to the company. And if you feel nervous about meeting with a hiring manager for a conversation, Claudia says execution is everything. So jump!

About Our Guest:

Claudia Bruce-Quartey is a career coach for female professionals who want to speak confidently about accomplishments and ask for raises.

Resources in This Episode:

  • Get your copy of Claudia’s children’s book, “My Hair, My Choice,” which helps black and brown children feel empowered and confident to show up as themselves in the world.
  • From our Sponsor: Find Your Dream Job is brought to you by TopResume TopResume has helped more than 400,000 professionals land more interviews and get hired faster. Get a free review of your resume today from one of TopResume’s expert writers.


Find Your Dream Job, Episode 440:

How to Network with Your Target Employers, with Claudia Bruce-Quartey

Airdate: March 6, 2024

Mac Prichard:

This is Find Your Dream Job, the podcast that helps you get hired, have the career you want, and make a difference in life.

I’m your host, Mac Prichard. I’m also the founder of Mac’s List. It’s a job board in the Pacific Northwest that helps you find a fulfilling career.

Every Wednesday, I talk to a different expert about the tools you need to get the work you want.

Find Your Dream Job is brought to you by TopResume. TopResume has helped more than 400,000 professionals land more interviews and get hired faster.

Get a free review of your resume today.

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You have a short list of places where you want to work.

But you don’t know anyone at these organizations.

What do you do next?

Claudia Bruce-Quartey is here to talk about how to network with your target employers.

She’s a career coach for female professionals who want to speak confidently about accomplishments and ask for raises.

Claudia joins us from the city of Zurich in Switzerland.

Well, Claudia, here’s where I want to start: why do you need to network with your target employers when you do a job search? Why not just send in an application?

Claudia Bruce-Quartey:

The thing today is that this economy has changed a lot. I work in tech, and with the recent layoffs or at least a year and a half of massive layoffs in tech, candidates today need to find a completely different strategy of really combining how they approach the job market. And targeting your employers directly by identifying who the hiring managers are and who the recruiters are is key in today’s economy because, with everyone on the street, it is just such a difficult place to be. And just sending out applications randomly, just doesn’t cut it anymore.

Mac Prichard:

What happens when you don’t network with your target employers, Claudia?

Claudia Bruce-Quartey:

So, first of all, you are thrown in the mix with a pool of other candidates. You are all competing for the same jobs. That’s number one. And targeting your employees or employers, your future employers, makes you stand out.

Because, let’s take it a step back; how do you target them? First of all, as a candidate, you will put out a list of all the values that you have that you want to see in the next employer.

The next thing is, what are the skills that you have? What are the things that you bring to the table to even be a match? With that list of these are my values, this is what I want in a company, this is what I bring to the table, you can now directly go, specifically, on LinkedIn, for example, and target these recruiters or hiring managers and have a one-to-one discussion.

Having this discussion, you’ll find out things that you will absolutely not find on any company website or any video. And this is what makes you stand out from the crowd.

Mac Prichard:

I want to talk about each of those elements: the values, what you want, and what you offer. But before we get there, Claudia, I have to imagine there’s a listener who’s wondering, well, won’t I miss out on opportunities if I only focus on a short list of targeted employers? What would you say to that person?

Claudia Bruce-Quartey:

I would say to think about it differently. What I’m saying is not to completely dismiss applying for jobs in the regular way. But, here’s the thing, here are the facts, Mac. Many of the candidates on the job market are saying they’re exhausted applying for jobs end on end and getting nothing to little results.

On a mental health aspect, this is not the right thing to do. You’re looking for a job, and that is already a full-time job. It’s taken a toll. So, my approach or my suggestion is to really shift that focus and start having conversations. Rather than being in this pool of a power game.

Because if you are in a pool where you’re just randomly sending out applications, it gets exhausting very, very quickly. This is an approach where you can start having really targeted conversations with the people that can hire you, and people see you and see your values in a completely different light.

Mac Prichard:

Do most job seekers network with targeted employers or even have a list of targeted employers?

Claudia Bruce-Quartey:

Unfortunately not. I’ve had numerous discussions with hiring managers and recruiters, and from first-hand experience, I know this is the approach that works.

If you are able to either target them directly or tap into your network, asking the people that you’ve worked with in the past, hey, do you know X, Y, Z? Are they looking for a product manager? Are they looking for a sales accountant executive? Doing this really makes you stand out.

Because, at the end of the day, people will want to work with people they know, like, and trust. This is how you bring the know, like, and trust factor into it.

All of the time, we talk about how can you be referred. Many companies have a referral program. Why do they have it? Because it still works. If you come in as a vetted person that I know, people are so much more eager to speak to you than someone that just applies randomly.

Mac Prichard:

Claudia, what stops job seekers from doing this kind of networking with targeted employers?

Claudia Bruce-Quartey:

I’ve had numerous conversations, especially with women in tech, and me personally, I’m a political scientist turned key account manager in a tech industry. The number one thing that I see standing in the way is confidence.

The sheer limiting belief that I’m not good enough, that my skills are not valuable enough. Who will hire me? And what is it that I bring to the table that is going to be of any significance?

And with that belief, they go into the interview, and it shows. Because if you’re not confident enough to articulate even what you bring to the table, how is the other person in front of you even going to vet for you? Or be confident enough that you can do the job?

So, working on your confidence is key. And I always say, at the absence of confidence, because it is something that needs to be built, just have courage. If confidence leaves you, jump. Do it anyway.

You see a job ad. There are ten qualifications. You just qualify for six. Apply anyway because you need to know that the job ad, it’s a fantasy. That’s the perfect candidate, and that simply does not exist. So, just apply.

Mac Prichard:

We’re talking today about networking with target employers, and I really appreciate the tip you gave about making a decision about qualifications and applications. What would be your number one tip to increase confidence?

Claudia Bruce-Quartey:

So, my number one tip to increase confidence is, first of all, write a list of all your accomplishments. Everything that you’ve done so far. I always say, write the good, the bad, and the ugly.

Because when you write the good things, at times, there’s so many skills and accomplishments that come naturally to you that you just dismiss them. Well, I’m a good writer. I can do it, anyone can do it. No, if you exclude yourself out of a task or a job, what would happen? What would happen is that the job wouldn’t get done.

So because you’re there, your company is benefiting. Your company is profiting. So, write all of these accomplishments down each week.

After that, write also the challenges down. What did they teach you? What have you overcome? You’re still there, right? What do these challenges teach you? How have you become better?

Writing these down gives you a visual list of all the good things that you can do and all of the good things that you are.

And then, secondly, call a friend. Celebrate with a friend. Ask the friend, what do you appreciate about me?

Mac Prichard:

Again, I want to talk about how to network with target employers. But, before we get there, what are some of the most common mistakes you see people make when they try to network with target employers?

Claudia Bruce-Quartey:

The common mistake I see is people not really aligned towards their values. I believe that in society, in family, we have this misconception that if you have a big title, if you work for a very, very big company that has such a big brand, well, then you’ve made it.

But the reality today is that people are tired and getting very much exhausted. People are no more aligned with their values they have. What they truly want, what would truly make them happy.

So, the common mistake is not listening to what makes you happy, to what makes you fulfilled. People don’t have a general understanding of what is the next step of my career. How do I want my career to look like? How do I want to interact with my peers on a day-to-day basis?

We spend two-thirds of our time at work. We better make this time worth. So, sit down. Draw up a list of all your values, and then find those companies that will align with these values.

Mac Prichard:

Terrific. I want to take a break, and when we come back, I want to walk through your recommendations for how to network with your target employers and break it down piece by piece. So, stay with us.

When we return, we’ll continue our conversation with Claudia Bruce-Quartey about how to network with your target employers.

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Now, let’s get back to the show.

We’re back in the Mac’s List studio. I’m talking with Claudia Bruce-Quartey.

She’s a career coach for female professionals who want to speak confidently about accomplishments and ask for raises.

Claudia joins us from the city of Zurich in Switzerland.

Now, Claudia, before the break, we were talking about our topic today, how to network with your target employers, and we walked through the benefits of doing this, what stops people from doing this kind of networking, important things to pay attention to like confidence, and mistakes to avoid.

Let’s walk through, step-by-step, the process you take your clients through to do this kind of networking, and you’ve already touched on your first step, which is values. I know you like to begin there. Why is it important to start with your own values as a job seeker?

Claudia Bruce-Quartey:

As a job seeker, you need to understand who you are and the identity that you carry. It is no use to go into a high-pressure environment, such as sales, for example, if you know you’re rather the person that likes to sit behind a desk and needs a structure to follow, right, because it’s so dynamic.

So, start there. Start with who you are, the environment that you would like to be in, the environment that will make you blossom and see your best self. Because only there can you thrive. Once you’ve done that, go into your network.

And that’s also another mistake I see a lot of job seekers do. They think that they don’t have a network. But your network is everywhere. Your network is even your neighbors. Not just the people at work.

Go inside there. Have a conversation. It’s a dialogue, not a monologue, and find out whether or not that company culture really truly aligns with your values in order to thrive.

Mac Prichard:

What’s the best way to get clear about your values if you’re uncertain about how to do that?

Claudia Bruce-Quartey:

Writing them down. The best way I’ve found is really writing everything down. Putting it on paper has the magical view of almost really finalizing things.

And then also, I want to be clear on that. Your values might change. You might think, well, I would like to have a very quiet job, but at the end of the day you find that you love the dynamics of the job actually. So, you want to have a balance, or you want to have a job that is fast-paced.

So, write it all down. Once you’ve done that, you dissect. Within the next couple of years, how do I want myself to evolve in that job? What will I bring to this job in order to make this job come alive? So, write it down.

Mac Prichard:

Once you’ve got those values, the next step you recommend job seekers take is to name the places where you want to work. What’s the best way to create this list, Claudia?

Claudia Bruce-Quartey:

The best way to create this list, again, is, of course, you can go and research some companies. There are so many different listings also of best places to work. But I have found that it is always good to dig deeper.

Go on LinkedIn, find people past and present that have worked there before, and get an understanding of what it is like to work with so and so or to work with that particular audience, with that particular company. What is it like to work in the research department, for example of a pharma company, versus the research department of a tech company? It’s a very different dynamic, and you need to understand that.

So, really talk to people. That’s my advice.

Mac Prichard:

Sometimes, I meet job seekers who struggle with just the abundance of opportunities. They may know the position they want, you mentioned, for example, someone interested in doing research.

But there might be a hundred, several hundred employers in their market that offer those opportunities. How do you help your clients narrow down that list from several hundred to a manageable number?

Claudia Bruce-Quartey:

It all comes down to I believe that the job search in and of itself shouldn’t overwhelm you. So, I always go with numbers of three or numbers of five. This is manageable over the course of a week.

For example, if I give you, okay, reach out to five employers during the week. Well, that’s one employer in the week. You can double that. That will be two employers a day. Right?

Because it gets very messy very quickly, so really trimming it down to a manageable number is important.

And the second thing is also, again, coming back to those values. Because yes these opportunities are out there everywhere. But not every company will align with the values that you have. Not every company is able to help you thrive and grow professionally as you want.

So, you need to be crystal clear. In the next twelve to twenty-four months, how would I want my career to look like? What is the job title that I will be happy with? What are the tasks and the missions that I want to fulfill?

Not every company does that. So, it comes down, again, to, okay, let me network. Specifically, have a conversation and understand whether or not this is the right place to be.

Mac Prichard:

What questions do you recommend asking the people you meet with as you network inside of these targeted companies to understand if, indeed, this is the place where you want to be?

Claudia Bruce-Quartey:

So, if we take a phased approach, and this is the approach I walk my clients through every time. The first conversation is really just going to be a conversation about why are you there? Asking the peer, what do you like about this job? How did you get there? What excites you about this?

And then maybe in the second or third conversation, you will go into more of the challenges. What are the current challenges that, for example, that you see?

First of all, I’m in sales. Right? I’m a key account manager. What are the challenges that you see going on within the industry? That’s something you could ask.

What are the top three initiatives that your company’s working towards? And why would this specific role, for example, if you were in key account management or you were in project management, how would this specific role help close the gap between the challenges that you’re currently facing, and the goal that you’re having, and the initiatives that you’re having?

Asking these types of questions gives you an overview of exactly what this company is trying to achieve and how you can fit in.

Mac Prichard:

How do you apply the information, the answers you get to those questions, to your job search?

Claudia Bruce-Quartey:

Oh, that’s a good one because, as a candidate, when you have this type of information, it gives you a much more informed basis for the interview afterward. Most job searches look like this: you go on the website, you see the job ad, and that’s it. You walk in.

But actually, you walk in blindly. And the questions that are going to be thrown at you, you kind of have to back it up only based off of your experience. But now you’re informed. You know exactly why you applied because you know exactly that what you bring to the table is in alignment with the goals that this company is trying to achieve and the challenges this company is trying to overcome.

So, you will stand out from the crowd by having that type of informed conversation. And also another bonus tip is you are able to bring all of your expertise already in. You are kind of almost part of the team because you can already give an informed answer. And this is different from anyone else.

Mac Prichard:

So, know your values, come up with a list of target employers, talk to people inside those organizations. You might reach them through your professional network. Perhaps you have personal friends who have insights.

When you’ve done all of this, another step you recommend is actually to sit down with hiring managers at these organizations. How do you do this, Claudia, and why is it important to do so?

Claudia Bruce-Quartey:

It is important to do so because, again, at times, you find yourself in a company that doesn’t truly align with your values or is not what you really thought it was. Having the first conversation with a hiring manager gives you also their flavor of moving forward what you can expect from the job.

What are they trying to achieve? Why is this job open? What is this opening helping this company to do or this department to do? These are all questions you can have already with the hiring manager. And when the flow is there, when you really feel aligned, you can also say, okay, I believe this is a company I would love to bring my everything, my all to, because I really like it here.

And secondly, don’t just sit down with the hiring manager. Also, sit down with your potential colleagues. I have been, and I’ve also advised clients, find people past and present that have worked at these companies and get into a conversation. Because it’s there, you will get insights that you would not find anywhere else.

Mac Prichard:

What’s the best way to share those insights when you’re either meeting informally with a hiring manager before a position has been posted or you’re actually going through a formal interviewing process?

Claudia Bruce-Quartey:

I believe both because, in both instances, you have the opportunity to truly shine and stand out from the crowd, and being able to name-drop just makes you so much more of an authority of someone who’s thorough, of someone who understands the mission that is at hand, and someone who is also able to truly collaborate with other people, even strangers.

It just truly helps the employer understand, hey, I have a candidate here that’s going above and beyond. What better way to show that you are the best candidate for this position?

Mac Prichard:

Well, it’s been a terrific conversation, Claudia. Now, tell us, what’s next for you?

Claudia Bruce-Quartey:

So, I am growing a tribe of very confident women in tech. I’m coaching women to be very much courageous and very much bold in their approach of applying for tech. So, this is currently my mission: to help women truly find their confidence within the tech industry.

Mac Prichard:

Well, terrific. I know that listeners can learn more about you and your work by connecting with you on LinkedIn, and when they do reach out to you, I hope they’ll mention they heard you on Find Your Dream Job.

Now, Claudia, given all of the great advice you’ve shared today, what’s the one thing you want a listener to remember about how to network with your target employers?

Claudia Bruce-Quartey:

If you recall absolutely nothing, the number one thing that I recommend is just jump. Just do it. Because networking is one thing and listening to a podcast like this is another thing. But actually, it’s the execution of it. So just jump.

Mac Prichard:

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Next week, our guest will be Arturo Rodriguez Flores.

He’s a recruitment strategist at SEIU Local 503, one of the largest labor unions in the state of Oregon.

Thanks to the Internet, it’s never been easier to find job listings.

So why not apply to as many as possible?

But you’ll have more success, says Arturo, if you focus on what you want, not what you could do.

Join us next Wednesday when Arturo Rodriguez Flores and I talk about why it’s good to find a job that excites you.

Until next time, thanks for letting us help you find your dream job.

This show is produced by Mac’s List.

Susan Thornton-Hough schedules our guests and writes our newsletter. Lisa Kislingbury Anderson manages our social media.

Our sound engineer is Matt Fiorillo. Ryan Morrison at Podfly Productions edits the show. Dawn Mole creates our transcripts. And our music is by Freddy Trujillo.

This is Mac Prichard. See you next week.