Job searching is an art. It’s not something you’re necessarily supposed to be good at, but if you swallow your pride and apply a thoughtful plan, you will be successful in your search.
They say the definition of crazy is doing the same thing over and over, and expecting a different result. Are you job searching without success? If so, it's time to try something new.
I love the new year because it gives people the time and motivation to sit down and look deeply at what they’ve been doing in their job search and evaluate the strengths and weaknesses in their game plans. What story have you been telling? How have you been telling it? And who have you been telling it to?
It's time to really look at your plan, and tweak it, until you get the best result. Here are 5 steps to a new year, a new job, and hopefully a new you:
I fully believe job searching is a journey of self-discovery. For a lot of people, it’s humbling- and this is a good thing. We all need lessons in humility more often than we may think.
Years ago, I had an executive level client that I thought was extremely strong, but he had been out for quite some time and we couldn’t figure out why. I speculated that it had to be something he was saying or doing in interviews. As luck would have it, we had a need for a pro bono client and I was able to put him through Challenger, Gray & Christmas’ outplacement program (his competing paid program had struggled to help). It was after CGC's training that we all realized what the problem was: The nice guy I knew, that had an incredible amount of experience, transformed into an absolute jerk when he got into interviews. An unseen arrogance and pompousness (likely covering insecurity) was seething through every buttonhole in his suit. It was shocking.
The truth is, this was not who he was at his core – which made him come off as inauthentic. His ego was in the way. When employers are in a buyer’s market, that’s going to get you eliminated every time.
The lesson here was crucial: Look at everything you’re doing and ask yourself, “Am I being the most authentic version of myself? Is there a better way to tell my story, so that it’s received in the most positive manner?”
Check your ego, and ask yourself the hard questions.
In outplacement, a client’s resume is the biggest lightning rod in the whole process. It’s the one thing people feel they can control, during an uncontrollable process. We have clients that will spend weeks and weeks and weeks tweaking their resume. And when they struggle, the resume is the first thing they blame.
Your resume is NOT the reason you lose job opportunities.
There's much more to you than that piece of paper. Your resume is merely the foundation you will build the "story of you" upon. Make sure it’s sturdy with no grammatical errors, but beyond that, put it down. After you've laid those concrete walls, let the real building begin.
Does applying to jobs online make you feel like you’re accomplishing a lot in your job search? Sure is easy to sit behind that computer screen and pass the day hitting the “apply” button. Unfortunately, that’s what everyone competing against you is already doing.
If you want to land fast, you have to be better. What you actually should be doing is networking- right now, with the right people. Nearly all of my clients will tell you one thing:
Job seekers need to spend 80% of their time in front of employed decision makers.
These are the people that will get you the job leads you want. They will introduce you to the influencers you need, or better yet, make an immediate decision on your employment candidacy. You know who the movers and shakers are in your network. Apply Step 1 (check your ego), and get in front of the old bosses, colleagues, neighbors, church members, college alumni, and social media connections that can make a difference.
“OK, so do I spend the other 20% of my time applying online?”
No. You spend that time communicating with more people: search firms, recruiters, job boards, LinkedIn groups, your outplacement team (the one you might be ignoring out of spite for your old employer), and more networking groups.
Yes, it may be awkward. Yes, it may be outside your comfort zone (I too hate asking people for help). But if you apply yourself, and ask these folks for advice, rather than help, you will land in faster. The end will justify the means.
Each week, spend 80% of your time in front of employed decision makers and 20% with search firm executives, recruiters and other in-transition folks.
You did it! You’re in front of that employed decision maker. You’re excited to immediately tell them about everything you’re doing, all of your problems, and everything you want- before you sit back and let them tell you the meaning of life. Do not do that. Take a breath. You need to be more strategic.
Most people will really want to help you, but it’s important to make it easier for them to do so. Don’t be that relative at the holiday party that downloads all their problems on you. It’s awkward. Instead, make a genuine connection first.
Get people talking about themselves.
Not a conversationalist? You don’t have to be. Start by asking your friend questions: How did you get in to this organization? Have you ever been in transition? What’s your best piece of advice? What keeps you up at night? How do you try to differentiate yourself from the competition?
The more they talk, the more comfortable they’ll feel helping you. This is because you’re learning more about who they are, their pain points, and their source of pride. After a while, they’ll begin asking about you and how they can help. When that happens, you will feel great knowing what you just accomplished – and that confidence will present a better you when you start talking. This also invites a perfect segue into you humbly bragging via your success stories.
Stories are memorable, statistics are not. Have a few success stories ready to tell. It's good practice for interviews. Your helpful contact, much like your interviewers, won’t remember industry buzz words or stats- but they will remember a good story about how you helped your last company out of a jam.
Relating your connections experience to your own will lead you to more leads, introductions, referrals, and more job opportunities.
Yes, there is a perfect job out there for you somewhere. But it’s not your job to find it right now. Your job is to get really good at getting offers. You get offers by getting a lot of interviews > Which come from job leads & connections > Which come from networking meetings with decision makers > Which come from applying the 80/20 rule > Which happens after you’ve checked your ego and put down that resume :).
Here’s a fun fact: People talk themselves out of positions before they even get an interview, let alone apply. Are you guilty of saying, "I'm not going to apply as I wouldn't want that job anyway?"
You haven’t even gotten an offer. If that ego's in check, who are you to turn down the imaginary one? How do you know it’s not the best job for you without learning about it? Besides, isn’t your primary goal to get an offer, or at very least, an interview?
Stop screening jobs from your search.
Don’t forget you’re job searching, not job accepting. Your primary goal is to build the activity, confidence, & momentum that will lead to an offer (any offer). It doesn’t matter if you don’t end up wanting it, because by getting it, you have gotten yourself some much needed leverage in the job search game. I can’t tell you how often a client gets one offer and then two more immediately come through the same day. Why is that?
One word: Momentum. Build it.
Like the job offer or not, you can eventually use that offer as leverage against the offers you really want. Employers want those that are wanted. Once you tell them that you have an offer, they quickly realize that someone else wants you, and they instinctually want you as well. That job you were barely going to consider? It might just help you land that dream job you never thought you’d nail down- and fast.
As you enter 2015, stop and ask yourself if you’re doing the above 5 things. Then ask yourself again. Then again. If you are not, today is a great day to start.
It’s a new year! Push yourself! It will be worth it! The strategies above have proved effective for countless individuals before you. Put your best foot forward, start today, and watch the momentum of your job search sore!
Original post to LinkedIn can be found here. Please feel free to share with your LinkedIn & social networks as it helps the author as well (thank you for paying it forward).
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