Conducting a Successful Job Search

Usually, getting the raise you deserve will require getting hired by a new employer. This is an unfortunate reality but I’m not here to debate the moral implications of this. I want to help you get the best job possible! In this brief article, you’ll find everything you need to jumpstart your search—even if you’re not currently in one. At the end, I’ll list the website and book recommendations my LinkedIn network suggested as I got ready to write this.

Technology has made searching for a job is quite different than it was just a few years ago! I recently worked with a client on his job search and was amazed at the variety of places to look for listings. Even Craigslist! Surprised by this, I hopped on LinkedIn and asked my colleagues for their tips for doing for successful career searches, particularly for professionals with 5-10 years of work experience.

An obvious place to start your job search is to look at online job listings like monster.com so there are a list of these types of websites at the end of this article. But Pat Meehan, author of Career of a Lifetime reminded that in the U.S. “only 15-20% of career opportunities are posted on internet and newspapers.” So, Marina Martin, owner of TypeA’s, Inc., encourages contacting companies directly, particularly if you see they have a need you can address. But please, be very tactful if you’re pointing out a weakness of theirs! Your goal is to get a job not to be a know-it-all!

In addition to searching the web listings, here are some other tips for job seeking:

Know what kind of job you want

As a Certified Franklin Covey Coach, I’d be remiss if I didn’t say “Begin with the end in mind.” Sure you want a new job, but what kind of job do you want? You can’t aim for a target if you don’t know what the target is. So before delving too far into a search, take the time to define the target. Rather than limiting a search, you’ll find this focus will actually open up new options that you’d never thought of.

Specifics are key here:

  • How much money do you want to be making?
  • How many days off?
  • What kind of benefits package?
  • Scheduling flexibility?
  • What kind of people do you want to be working with?
  • What kind of work environment do you thrive in?
  • Where geographically would you love to live?
  • What are the three most enjoyable things in your current profession that you’d like to take into the next phase of your life?

To take it one step further, Janet White, auther of Secrets of the Hidden Job Market, recommends creating a mental video of yourself already working in your dream job and “playing” the video multiple times a day.

Know thyself

Personally, I’m an assessment junkie. DiSC, Myers-Briggs, Highlands, Enneagram, you name it; chances are I’ve taken it. You should take them too. We are all hard-wired in unique ways. Part of our assignment in this life is to figure out these natural talents and use them.

All too often, we find ourselves in jobs that others said we should do. If we don’t like the job, rather than deciding it’s not a good fit, we tend to feel something must be wrong with us. But if you know yourself and your hard-wiring, you’ll have a much more fruitul job search.

Network

With so few jobs actually making it to the listings, networking is an imperative. Letting your friends and co-workers know you’re looking is an obvious first step. Typically they won’t be able to refer you to a job, but people they know will.

Ginny Ruder, of GRCareerPlanning.com, points out that after doing the work of defining your ideal job, you may find that you’re not yet in the correct networks to get you where you want to go. One way to get into different networks, according to Rich Grant, is by volunteering for nonprofit boards. This can be a great way to hone skills and associate with new people.

Web 2.0/Social Networking

We can turbo-charge our networking by using “web 2.0” tools like LinkedIn, Facebook, and Twitter. Within days, sometimes minutes, we can extend our network to include people all around the world. As with face-to-face networking, you need to give something of value in order to receive referrals.

I’d recommend you look around at the many social networking sites. Then choose to focus on only 2 or 3. LinkedIn, Facebook, and Twitter are my personal favorites. Before actively participating, spend a few days watching how people interact. Get a feel for the culture and the expectations. Then jump in and have fun!

In face-to-face networking and online networking, you’ll quickly see how obnoxious the “incessant self-promotors” are. These are the Ned Ryersons (remember What About Bob?) that try to shove all their business cards in to everyone elses hands.

No one wants to be sold to. So try to be a person that others would want to be around. Never look desparate, even if you really are!

Have a great resume

I’m not encouraging you to lie about your resume or to respond to those spam emails offering cheap degrees. Really having a great resume involves both content and design. You may not want to use the same resume for each job application. Each jobs require specific skills and talents. It will probably help you to accent those aspects of each position you’ve had.

Having been on the hiring end of job searches, I can personally attest to how significantly a nicely designed resume stands out. It’s scary how many cover letters and resumes are slipshod and second-rate. Do yourself the favor of running spellcheck and having a couple people not related to you proof-read it. It might even be a good idea to hire a professional to help you present the resume as strongly as possible.

I also recommend posting a resume on a well known site like LinkedIn. That way, if you email the resume and cover letter, you can add a PS that “in case something happened to the attachement, my resume is also at: http://linkedin.com/in/joe-searcher/” If you’ve done your networking well, you’ll have some wonderful recommendations that the prospective employer can see there too!

Follow Up

Applying for jobs is an odd dance of waiting and following up and waiting. And more and more employers are sending an annoyingly unhelpful “don’t call us, we’ll call you” message. But if you don’t get told specifically to not ask, it’s a good idea to follow up.

People are busy and papers or emails get buried amazingly quickly. You may be the perfect person for the job, so do them the benefit of making sure your information was received.

Be Visible

Mel Aclaro, Director of Content & e-Learning Solutions at RealtyU, says the most important thing in a career search is to “be visible!” He encourages being visible, before you need a job.

Being visible means getting involved in professional association and social networking today! Most professional associations are always looking for people to help carry out the work. You can also start your own blog for free from any number of providers or create a very attractive simple website at your own domain name. Mel even recommends creating an ebook or webinar that people can download. He adds, “Don’t forget to give yourself attribution in the templates!”

Get a Coach

You were probably expecting this, weren't you? But it's true. Coaches can help you get things done that you won't on your own. I recently had the privilege of being the career search coach for a talented client. He told me that our time together helped him do the work he’d been meaning to do for the past six months. And, in just one month, he developed his own system for ongoing applications and follow up that made it easy for him to keep going.

You Can Do It

As you can see, job searches ideally begin before you need a job. Even with all the great new tools, the basics are still the same. So if you’re in a job search, don’t panic. You’ll be o.k. The process often takes longer than you’d like, but you’ll survive.

Marie-Dolores Anderson, owner of Maddy Flynn’s, sums up the process as: preparation, patience, and perseverance. I know it took my close to two years of looking and over 100 job applications, joint venture proposals, and interviews before I landed a terrific job in my field. That meant both having a thick skin when I was told “no” (or more often not told anything!) and having the inner-strength to say no to job offers that were merely “settle for’s”—jobs that were substandard pay or substandard challenge.

Keep up the search. You’re worth the effort. And the networking, marketing, and sales skills you learn while searching will be easily transferable to whatever position you eventually are hired for.

And if you’re not looking, get involved in networking! You’ll get great ideas that will make you look like a superstar in your current position. Who knows? Maybe they’ll give you enough of a raise that you won’t need to look for a new job!


Tools & Resources Suggested by the folks on LinkedIn

Recommended sites include:

Recommended books:

Other tools:

  • Conduct a skills inventory
  • Highlands Ability Battery
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