Shut-Up And Job Search With A Buzz.
So Q1 of 2011 is in the books, and you’re not on the books? Not so long ago many were speaking of work/life balance issues, and how more leisure was needed. Now, not so much. It’s April, 2011 and if you don’t take control of your job search, and career someone else will. It’s not up to companies to hire you; it’s up to you to get hired. Forget about how lousy the economy is, or how unprofessional some companies are in that they do not respond to your inquiries. Reflect on what you could have or should have done differently if you must, and then forget about that, as well. Focus on finding the right opportunity for you and your family and then do everything possible to demonstrate that your value proposition is greater than any other candidate. Will the competition remain steep? Sure; however, while they’re whining, you’ll be winning. There was no “Summer of Recovery” in 2010, the administration is not focused like a laser on jobs, and companies will remain hesitant to hire. That said, let’s make this your summer of recovery, have you focused like a laser, and become insistent upon getting hired. ESPN has 30 for 30, and here are 11 for 11 that can help you reenergize your search.
- Target your search. Stop it. Be honest with yourself when evaluating opportunities, and quit shooting for jobs that you’re not qualified for or wouldn’t accept. It’s unproductive and wasteful. Companies want to hire employees who will have little to know learning curve. Again, be honest, and ask yourself if you were offer the job, could you step in and do it? Do you currently have the skills required to perform the functions? If you’re confident that you can nail it on “Day 1” you’ll interview as such.
- Clearly define what you need. Again, stop it. Focus on the need not the want. Targeting and being honest should drive some tough questions. What am I really after? What value can I offer an employer? If you’re slow on the draw, make one list of the skills (value) you possess, and another of the skills you use most often. Now use these skills as search terms in your job search.
- Reevaluate the tools in your toolbox. If you’ve searched the world looking, it might be time to put some new tools in the box. Could this be an opportunity to go back to school? You’ve got the time, and perhaps the economy will have recovered by the time you have picked up those new tools. Look into the Trade Adjustment Assistanceprogram to determine if you may be eligible for benefits for displaced workers.
- Set tactical goals. While the strategic goal is to get a job, setting tactical job search goals to support the strategic will develop, force continuously evaluation, and drive course correction . Take networking skills, for example. Make April’s goal to join a professional association or trade group. Take May to develop and improve your online brand through LinkedIn, Twitter, and Facebook. Work on interviewing by doing mock or role play interviews in April, and then take out the phone, and record or video yourself in May. Work from a list, and check the items off as you complete them. This will improve your sense of self-worth, motivate you, and hold you accountable.
- Spice it up. Stuck in a rut? Add a new tactic to support the strategy. Volunteer your services to an agency or ministry. Get involved with a youth service or team. Another new and effective version of network development isGoGrabLunch. I can’t tell you many folks I’ve worked with over the years that have landed jobs through this informal networking processes.
- Go rouge. If you find job that seems perfect. Go for it. Contact the company and ask to speak with the person responsible for the department. No guts? Hit LinkedIn or Twitter and search groups or follow the company’s profile, and you’ll be able to get the email without too much trouble. A search on any number of “company data/profile” sites can provide you with a list of employees and their titles. Find the appropriate contact, search the company’s website or press releases for the company’s e-mail format, then add the name, and email them.
- Manage you online brand: Just as the above happens, so too will this: The company or their agent will search your name. You can and need to control what they see. Your search should turn up consistent results that are professional in appearance (picture) and content. Delete pictures that are unprofessional from Facebook…now. They can randomly be tagged, scroll or appear. Try and use the same head-shot on Twitter and LinkedIn, and then post, link, and re-tweet about industry topics. Use these as a tool now, and if you must, a toy later. Due to aggregate numbers Facebook, LinkedIn, and Twitter profiles usually pop up on page one when associated with a specific name. It’s a tool, and should be respected as such.
- Start a blog or a website: Take your online brand further by starting a blog. This can highlight skills and value in a more in-depth fashion without too much effort. This can also enhance your professional image and credibility. You can get a domain can be registered on most site for about ten dollars, and hosting your site can be had for free if you look around. If you lack tech experience, website and blog templates can provide you with a professional look and feel quickly and easily. Just search for “free,blog,site,templates.”
- Stay current: Read, and read voraciously. Trade publications and sites, comment on industry blogs, and forums to remain knowledgeable about emerging technologies, systems and processes that are relevant. This will help you during the interview, keep your confidence up, and allow you to maintain certifications if required.
- Don’t be shy: Look, you put in all the networking effort, and now you landed the interview. This is not the time for modesty. Each bullet point on the resume will demonstrate value. “Responsible for X, resulting in Y” with the “Y” being cost savings, efficiency, productivity, etc. Be sturdy, and answer with confidence, and do not allow yourself to feel as though you are being boastful. The product you’re selling is you, and no one knows the product like you do. You don’t want to walk away leaving the door open for the next candidate.
- Roller-coasters are fun: The job search process has highs and lows because of the variable you can’t control. What your competition will perceive as setbacks, you must take as lessons learned. If a component of the search (networking, interviewing, salary negotiations) is not going well; adapt. Know that you’ll look back on the experience as challenging and frustrating, but that it will have been full of issues and subsequent actions that will have made you a better employee, spouse, parent, and person.
Buzz Smith is SR Curmudgeon and VP Consulting Services For OPI National Outplacement. OPI National Outplacement and Career Transition Located in Knoxville, Tennessee.