My friend “Dana” has worked in non-profits for years, and recently quit her job. She now wants to go in a whole new corporate direction. This week she emailed me saying she needs help organizing her job search: Help with cover letters, developing a generic and targeted resume, and a LinkedIn profile makeover too. She proudly announced she sent out dozens of resumes to job boards, and hasn’t heard a thing. “I’m stuck and I don’t know what I’m doing wrong,” she confessed.
Why is Dana frustrated? Because she takes the “FIRE, aim, ready” approach to job search—like many well-meaning souls before her (including myself). Why do job seekers often take this reverse approach, which actually doesn’t work? Because you want to feel you’re doing something to secure food on the table. Taking the “fire, aim, ready” approach will waste your time and frustrate you. Instead, try these 4 things, for much better results.
Be kind and patient with yourself
People usually skip this step altogether. Instead, sit yourself down with a nice cup of tea before you start your job search. Have a chat with the Stagecoach Driver in your head who holds the reins and whips those horses into a mouth-frothing frenzy. You are about to embark on a journey full of surprises, unforeseen obstacles, discomfort, on uncharted ground to boot. Load up with plenty of self-compassion for your trek ahead.
Think about it: This search for this particular job has never been done before by you; it’s virgin terrain. You allow ramping up time whenever you start a new job, right? Likewise, you need to be kind to yourself in your status as a job seeker. Chances are good you’re feeling vulnerable, even shaky. Now isn’t the time to crank up your mean “inner slavedriver.” Quite the opposite.
- Every day, start with kind, supportive words of encouragement, words that build your strength and confidence.
- Notice throughout the day when your Inner Doubter or Slave Driver kicks in. Noticing can help you switch gears into a more positive frame of mind.
- Stay connected to friends. In fact, have a job search buddy, and join a local job club. Don’t isolate yourself. People find jobs 20% faster if they search with others, because each person boosts the other.
Keep a notebook nearby of your daily successes and positive phrases, including this one: The most effective job search is a focused job search. Recently a friend admitted she’s looking to be either an Ultrasound Technician or an administrative assistant. She wonders why it’s taking her so long to find a job. As Confucious said, “If you chase 2 rabbits, you catch none.”
An unfocused approach will slow you down. Your search will be more efficient if all of your efforts are trained on one job, or one industry. In addition, keep this in mind: Your LinkedIn profile is the linchpin of your job search. Remember that as you reach out to people, they will look at your profile, especially before deciding to interview you. When people Google you, your LinkedIn profile will appear first. If your profile isn’t well branded i.e. focused, it will raise a red flag. You want to avoid red flags.
Do the thoughtful work up front of pinpointing your favorite skills and best accomplishments in support of the direction you want to go next. Hire a coach if you’re unclear. Get clarity before you embark on your search, and brand yourself with that vision. It will save you time.
Build Your LinkedIn presence
Have a look at William Arruda’s article, where he talks about how to leverage LinkedIn to your advantage. Because 80% of jobs today are filled through referral rather than through the job boards, you must build quality professional relationships. That is the beauty of LinkedIn; it gives you dozens of ways to build and grow professional relationships, turn cold calls into warm ones, and get found. Here are some suggestions:
- Grow your connections while you’re still employed. It is the kindest act of career self-advocacy. Why? Because when you do find yourself out of a job, you’re not scrambling to build your network. Never stop building and growing your connections, not only so others can support you when you need it, but so you can support others when they need it.
- Read articles/posts by people in your field. Comment on them, share them, then request to connect with them, writing a personalized message.
- Join LinkedIn Groups. Don’t just join Groups along with people looking for the same job as you, but join Groups where you will be the only Administrative Assistant participating, for example. Be a contributor, really listen to others’ concerns, offer your opinion, be a thought leader. You will find like-minded people through Groups with whom you can connect. Nine minutes a day on LinkedIn is all you need, to accomplish a lot.
Spot challenges and talk to people.
Congratulations. You are positioned well now. Since most jobs are filled by word of mouth, you must build relationships with people who trust you before a job comes available. The prevailing wisdom today is, ditch the job boards. Instead, do research on companies who hire people with your skills. Uncover their problem that you can fix. Leverage your remarkableness and keen pain spotting skill in a letter, and send it to the manager. (“Pain Spotting” is Liz Ryan’s trademarked word for noticing an employer’s challenges. She’s great. Check her out at Human Workplace).
How would you respond to a letter from someone who understands your unique troubles? Favorably I bet. It’s so novel to take this approach, you will stand out. It will show your kindness, focus, skill and sensitivity.
Take this 4 step approach to your job search, embracing a “ready, aim, fire” approach. You will hit your target much more quickly.
image: © Depositphotos.com /mycola_adams
Julie Bondy Roberts, MA, GCDF is a career coach, LinkedIn™ Profile Makeover Specialist, public speaker and blogger. She is the founder and principal at Coming Alive Career Coaching. To learn more about LinkedIn™ Profile Makeover packages, contact Julie at firstname.lastname@example.org. If you enjoyed this post, or know someone who would, please share it!