Editor's note: This article is part six of a 10-part series. Click here to read stage five. This is when you begin to synthesize the information that you have collected and align yourself to pursue your opportunities. To recap, you know yourself; you know many critical underserved needs and their solutions. This is the stage where you prepare the one weapon that will attract attention and close your employment deal for you. Identify the Consumers - Give considerable thought about who would use the solutions you have identified. This should be your epiphany: You are about to create a bunker-busting booster for your marketability. You should be thinking of "low hanging fruit" here. Reach for the consumers who are easiest to reach and most inclined to sign up with written expressions of interest. Written Expressions of Interest - These are letters from people who you may or may not know well who tell you in writing that if you can deliver a certain solution to a perceived need. Then, they would inspire their company or institution to use X number of units at an attractive price. Use this approach for all employment scenarios - it works just as well if you have prospective students, voters, parishioners . . . you get the picture. These are not written contracts but they sure are critical in the selling process. (Please do not shy away from someone who is willing to actually sign a conditional contract! Contracts trump expressions of interest.) These are "bunker busting" weapons in selling you and your solution to a critical underserved need. I once placed 17 written expressions of interest on the desk of the senior vice president at Sprint International who proceeded to purchase my company's products - in bulk - for $285 million. And, this is 18 months before my company's products existed.
How did this happen? We obliterated risk from the process. This is the perfect metaphor for what you want to do. Written expressions of interest by real live users obliterate the risk of hiring you to help deliver the product or service to the market.
Remember that "Value Chain" thing we discussed in the last stage. Here, you accumulate written expressions from users below you so you can sell your services to the employer above you. These letters sell your story for you. Why and how? Because they are attachments to your resume as your package is handed up the chain of command to the key decision-makers. Your hiring decision will probably be made in places where you have never been, by people who you do not yet (and may never) know.
These are the "bunkers" that you are "busting" into. Give them something to substantiate their decision. Give them bragging rights for placing you on their team. Nuclear tip: Ghost write these letters so they read just like you want. Thermonuclear tip: These letters must remain hidden from view until after the new employer has committed. You cannot even give away the names or enterprises from which they come. Copies of the text are fine to share, along with generalities about where they are from. However, try to not give away the identities until after you are on board. White out the names of the authors and their companies. The reason is that disreputable people will take your letters, place calls themselves, and leave you standing at the bus stop all alone. Your next step is Stage Seven, Employers