Here is a starting check list of what may be involved in a Job search “job.” If you can suggest more, let me know. This is the detailed version. For the condensed version, click here.
Set career goals and job search strategy
- Understand what you would like and love to do and also what things you want to avoid doing in your career. Maybe use a Myers Briggs test or Career Leader tool to guide you
- Develop your long term career goals and understand why those are your goals – where do you want to be in your career in (say 3 to 5 years)?
- Define the skills you need and skill gaps to achieve your 3 to 5 year career goal? what you are already good at and what you need to develop still? (do self evaluation and let others help you evaluate)
- Define types of jobs you would like to have next and how each type would fit with your goals? You should have 3 to 5 types (e.g. product manager, product marketing, online marketing) in mind because many different jobs can help you develop the same skills and this will give you more options in the market
- Define detailed characteristics of your ideal next job – if you don’t know what’s important to you and what you are looking for? How do you know when you find it?
- Analyze your financial situation – how long you have before you will stress about your finances and before your financial situation becomes dire?
- Define your plan A, B, and C and when will you implement each (in parallel or in sequence)? A is for ideal situation, B (e.g., get a job with less responsibilities and/or lower pay) is for getting by and buying time. C (e.g, move to another state or country for work or sell the house) is for survival if no other option exists.
Package yourself for your job search
- Ask people who have the job types you want – if you want to be a marketing manager at a high tech company next, then figure out who you may know or how you can find someone with that job. Ask at least 2 people for their advice and guidance – find out what it takes to do that job, what it entails. It can help you position your skills in your resume and interview or perhaps show you that it’s really not the job you thought it was.
- Develop your story – what makes you think you are qualified for each of the job types you hope to pursue. What makes you unique if others also have similar skills. What experiences do you have and why is it logically for you to want this job now? Note them in a Word doc. You can then use it in cover letter, email intros, and interviews.
- Practice your story – Share your stories with others and see if they buy it. If they don’t, perhaps the hiring company won’t either. Find people with those job types. Ask also people who know your skills well – maybe they can help you position you even better
- Create a resume for each job type you are searching – Yes, it should be tailored. You want to make it as easy as possible for the hiring company to see why you may be qualified for the job.
- Build an online presence – In this day and age, your online “resume” could be as important as the resume you have on paper. Google yourself and find out what other people see about you. Is it consistent with your story? If not, start modifying descriptions of yourselves online (linked in, google profile, etc.)
Apply for jobs based on your career goals and plans
- Apply for jobs the usual way (e.g.,monster, hot jobs, craiglist, company website) – it’s important to cover the basic although this should not be your only avenue. I heard of a woman who send out her resume 2000 times already and have not gotten a job yet. Just think of how many other people are doing the exact same thing you are doing
- Find creative ways to get your application in front of the hiring manager. Use friends, contacts, your barber, cold call – whatever you have to get your application in front of the right people. HR folks are not the right people.
- Write tailored covered letter / resume for each job application. Really think about what they are looking for and use their keywords from their job description in your cover letter and resume. Your covered letter / resume should answer why you are especially qualified for this job.
- Practice mock interviews – No one is naturally good at interviews. Ask people to help you practice behavior questions, questions about your resume, case questions, salary questions etc… You will be surprised how much you learn and how you really come across. You should do at least 2-3 mock interviews per job type.
- Research & prepare – before interviews, research the company thoroughly online and also with friends and contacts.
- Go to interviews – this seem obvious, but I mean even go to ones that you are not sure is a good fit after researching them. It’s great way to practice your interview skills. Who knows, they may surprise you.
- Don’t wait for them to get back to you. If you thought you were weak in one area or didn’t cover an important area in an interview. Email the interviewer as part of your thank you and address those areas. Perhaps also follow up with a call if appropriate. If you are not sure how to do this, ask for help and practice with someone first.
- Learn from your experiences – if you didn’t get a call back after an interview, make sure you learn something around how to improve. Email and/or call your interviewer and ask for feedback. Be humble and professional but be persistent since you have nothing to lose. Also do a self evaluation around what might have gone wrong or go over what happened with someone (that have more job search skills) and ask them. Whatever you do, try to learn from each and every experience, because otherwise, you are just doing the same thing over and over again expecting different results. That is the definition of insanity and a waste of time.
Network, network, network
- Tell everyone you know you are looking for a job – friends, contacts, even your hairdresser. Have your story ready about what you want to find next and you never know who may just have a lead for you on a job opening. The best way to find a job is through an introduction.
- Go to networking events (industry, function, alumni, job search, etc..) – this is not the time to be shy. Your “job” is to market YOU as a product to key people who may have leads for jobs and good advice for job search. This is also where the story you developed earlier for yourself come in handy. The more people you meet, the more opportunities you may find that aren’t on job boards.
- Ask for help – think of people in your life that may be better than you in doing job search and ask them for help to improve your skills. You may ask one person to help you with cold calling, another with interviews, another with thinking about your story, etc… While this “job” is NOT a tea
m effort, you can still ask many people to support you in your individual pursuit of a good job/career.
- Follow up – If you meet people at events that could help you in some way, follow-up. I know it’s uncomfortable, but it is very useful for your job search effort. Learn how to finesse asking people for help (e.g. information interview, career advice, etc). Avoid just asking people for job leads directly – it can come across like you don’t care about them at all, but just what leads they can give you.
- Thank your contacts / friends for help – Amazing how many people forget that.
Make job search enjoyable – this is probably the hardest section
- Develop coping mechanism for “low” times – No response or negative response from companies is part of the nature of this “job.” It’s nothing personal, but most of us will take it that way. Develop some ways to dig yourself out if you feel “low.” For example: 1) Read inspirational books like Awaken the Giant Within by Tony Robbins, 2) have a affirmative statement like “I am enjoying the journey of finding a job” or “one step at a time.” 3) Distract yourself (watch something funny or go out with friends). 4) Talk to someone. 5) find a song that inspires you – mine is “There’s hope” I love the lyrics. Every body can find what works for them.
- Reward yourself – On any regular jobs, if you worked really hard you may reward yourself with a nice dinner or a weekend away. This is the same. Define rewards for yourself when you reach certain goals in your “job.”
- Have regular downtime – don’t do job search all the time. You will burn out fast. This is a marathon, not a sprint, so pace yourself. If you plan to do job search M-F from 9 to 5 with 1 hour lunch break, then maybe you can give yourself permission to not think about job search on most weekends or evenings. You are the boss, afterall!
Closing the Deal
- Learn how to evaluate jobs and companies – how you can accurately judge whether you are a good fit or not. What questions to ask to find out more about the company, your boss, the team, your responsibilities, etc..
- Develop salary negotiation skills – Many people leave money on the table because they don’t know how to do this well. This could be a topic of many more posts.
As you can see, like any other job, there is plenty to do and lots of skills to develop. You can either do it reluctantly “kicking and screaming” or you can choose to take the reins and start mastering your job search skills – one step at a time. Good luck out there!