10 Tips to Help With Your Job Search (Part 1)
“The definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over and expecting different results.” – Ben Franklin
Fifteen years ago, I helped to start a ministry at a local church to help people who were going through a job transition. The ministry is still going strong. Four years ago, I decided to create my own Career Transition Workshop and offer it to churches and non-profits to help people in job transition. Over the years, I have taught the workshop to many people in many different venues in addition to doing personal career coaching and utilizing a Career Direct assessment to help match people’s personalities, interests, natural talents, and values to career paths that best suit them. My experiences over the last 15+ years have given me a good idea of best practices to help shorten the time in transition.
Here are the first five of ten tips to help in your job search:
Have a Plan – You can’t go into a job search without a plan. A plan is not spending six to eight hours a day on your computer submitting job applications and resumes. A plan consists of ensuring you have all your marketing materials. A plan consists of networking, attending job fairs, joining and participating in LinkedIn groups, joining an accountability group and yes, submitting resumes for jobs, but finding back door ways into the company instead of just submitting online. Having a plan means ensuring you get the most out of your day. And maybe most importantly, having a plan means planning time for not looking for a job – planning time to exercise, think, and do anything else outside of the job search, to re-energize.
Assess Yourself – We are all good at some things and we are all not so good at others. One part of your job search needs to be assessing yourself and your job search skills. You need to ask yourself some important questions. What kind of position am I looking for? What makes me valuable? Why would someone want to hire me over other candidates? What are my strengths and weaknesses? What could be potentially keeping me from getting my next job? What are my target companies? Am I willing to relocate? How far am I willing to travel? What size company do I want to work for? Additionally, you must be prepared to answer why you left your last position. These serve a number of purposes. They help to narrow and focus your job search. They help to prepare you to confidently answer questions that might be posed to you. They help you identify weaknesses that you can work on improving.
Marketing Materials – Marketing materials include resumes, cover letters, elevator speeches, LinkedIn profiles, biographies, value propositions, transition email addresses, business cards, etc. You may look at some of the things on this list and wonder what they are or why they are there. Other things are more common and you should know why they are important. For example, how many resumes should you have? One for every job you apply for because you will customize it so that the most important aspects of the job requirements will appear on the top third of your resume. You need an elevator speech or pitch so that you can introduce yourself and your value in 20-30 seconds. A transition email address will keep your personal and job search emails separate and ensures that you have a professional looking email address for prospective employers. Business cards are necessary, because nothing is worse than going to a networking event and writing your information on the back of someone else’s business card. Additionally, it allows you to get creative and showcase your value proposition.
LinkedIn – If you do not have a LinkedIn profile, you are not only losing out on a free, valuable tool, but you are also eliminating a vital way for people to find you. Having a LinkedIn profile that is not 100% complete, including a recent picture, not only looks unprofessional but also turns people off who may want to connect with you. Having a LinkedIn profile with only a few connections and with no LinkedIn Groups shows that you are lazy and have little interest in truly connecting with people. Having a LinkedIn profile and not utilizing LinkedIn to research companies and find connections within companies you are interested in shows a lack of knowledge of the many uses of this valuable tool. The truth of the matter is that hiring managers and recruiters utilize LinkedIn to learn about you prior to reaching out. The more interesting and valuable information you provide, the more likely you are to be contacted.
Resumes – There are many different ways to write a resume and many people out there will say that their way is the best way. I do not propose that my way is the best way. However, I will say that your resume should display the positions you’ve held, the responsibilities within those positions, and what you accomplished in those positions. Hiring managers are not interested in your goals, but what they are interested in is how you are going to solve their problems. How many resumes should you have? One for each job you apply for. Your resume should be tweaked so that the most important information that matches the keywords and requirements of the position appear in the top third of your resume. Be professional, display your value, and give hiring managers and recruiters the information they are looking for – then you have a good resume.
Not having a plan and not assessing your weaknesses will not only hinder your job search, but will also add to your frustration. Not having good marketing materials and a good LinkedIn profile limits your ability to showcase your value and to effectively communicate that value. No one can sell you like you can sell you, but you have to have the right materials and the right vehicle to market your wares.
Part 2 will cover networking, working with recruiters, interview preparation, interview questions, and salary negotiation. In addition, we’ll look at more ways to communicate your value, sell your value, and get the most return for your value.