I’ve done my best to help as many people find their next job over the years and learned a few things along the way. Here is a summary of some of those learnings in the hope that it may help others land that dream job.
1. Take advantage of your network of professional (and even personal) contacts. You never know who might know who…. and so I recommend meeting, face to face, with as many of your direct connections as possible – and go to them since you have the time – they will be more likely to meet near their work.
- In those meetings have a clear understanding of what you want to do next. If you’re not sure, they won’t be sure what to look out for
- In addition, have a list of organizations you would like to work for – perhaps they don’t know about any job availabilities, but they may know some influential people in those organizations
- If people don’t know you are looking, they won’t know to help
- Follow up every 6 weeks or so and remind them gently. People are busy, they forget – it’s not personal and they won’t mind
- Your Dentist and Doctor etc. are also network contacts you may want to consider
- LinkedIn is the single most important tool when it comes to job hunting. Make sure it is up to date, the keywords are accurate and fill in all the background fields and use relevant keywords.
- HR finds potential candidates through LinkedIn now, some organizations are exclusively using this to fill roles.
- If you would like to add recommendations to your profile then first take the time to create a great recommendation for others. They will likely return the favour. Make sure they are someone you would actually recommend – this will affect your personal brand!
- Be protective about your connections on LinkedIn. It’s not a numbers game – The quality of your LinkedIn connections affects your brand both positively and negatively
- Search for companies you would like to work for in LinkedIn and see who’s connected – this might be a great way inside an organization you admire
- Check out this great cheat sheet to see how your LinkedIn profile stacks up
3. Talk to people in your industry that have a job similar to the one you are looking for, they may get headhunter calls, and if they know you’re looking they can then refer you to them.
- Call and/or send them a personal note with an update of your status along with what you are looking for. At least they know you’re looking
- Avoid sending a cold generic update asking for help – include a personal note to them and perhaps include a link to a relevant article and why you thought they might enjoy it too. A little give and take helps
4. Have your resume professionally edited. After interviewing and hiring thousands of people over the past 2 decades, I have found this regularly can be the difference between arranging a meeting and having the resume thrown into the “garbage” file. There are some important elements to an effective resume. Headhunters and potential companies know the difference when they see a professional resume. It gets noticed. Even though LinkedIn has become more important than a resume for adding depth to the background – Resumes can still be an important reflection of your personal brand.
Your resume should be full of accomplishments that YOU brought to the table. Avoid saying things like “led 30 people in a high pressure environment” and focus on accomplishments “led a team of 30 though a 20% quality improvement and generated an additional $300k in new revenue”
Remember: It’s your resume – it’s expected that you will show off in a humble way.
5. Create a professional cover letter to use with headhunters and prospective future bosses. Again, quality is everything here as this is their first impression of you. Same goes for a professional introduction email template when applying for roles. Short, accurate and grammatically sound. Have a few people review it for any mistakes and overall look and feel
6. Volunteer your time to some industry groups or publications. They are often looking for people to help out. This can keep you in the spotlight and in front of the right people. When you volunteer your time, people are more likely to respond in kind
7. Meet with a number of consultants in your industry. They are constantly in front of companies to see opportunities and can give advice on doing some consultant work. They may have some work you can do to bridge the job gap as well which can help on the resume
8. Be open to the idea of consulting (not saying concentrate in this area but don’t discount it). In this economy people may be interested in short term expertise and short term fixes. These can turn into full time jobs (in every meeting you’ll want to look for ways to add value). You’ll also be able to tell prospective companies that you are in demand and busy
Remember a full-time but temporary consulting gig may not mix well with the full-time job finding responsibility and you may be in the same boat at the end of the contract
9. Try to get a list of headhunters in your industry, and contact them with your professionally written resume. Then phone them…. and here’s what I have always found…. you need to call them again. Often it takes an email and 2 calls to get them to call you back
Contact your headhunters every 3-4 weeks reminding them you are still looking, and include your resume each time. I’ve never met one that doesn’t appreciate this gentle reminder approach. A job may end up on their desk that’s perfect for you on the 6th time you reach out (5 months later). Your reminder may be all they need to start the ball rolling. The majority of jobs are never posted (potentially as much as 80% or more) so it’s who you know, but headhunters still play an important role.
10. Ask as much advice from people as you can. This does two things…. makes them feel their opinion matters and in return they will help you more than you know. In every meeting I ask “is there some advice you can offer or some people you feel I should chat with?” Inevitably there are.
I’ve learned that the further away you get from your direct connections the less likely those people are to actually recommend you to someone for a role. They don’t know you and don’t know your job performance. If they have a lead you may need to get someone to give a recommendation to them to (in turn) recommend you to others
11. I’ve created filters in Gmail (but you can do it in many email programs) which are folders to organize anything to do with job hunting. This can help you stay organized and keep job hunting separate from the personal stuff.
12. Make sure your email address is a professional one. A firstname.lastname@[your internet provider].com will be perceived more professionally than honeyjackpot@[free email provider].com. Create a new professional email address for job search if required
14. Set up some google alerts with key words for your jobs. You’ll get a daily influx of emails to check for potential jobs. “Internet Marketing Job [your city]” might be an example. Use technology to do some of the work for you!
15. http://flavors.me/ – A top way to create a cool intro page about yourself – great to send to someone before a networking meeting – perhaps more interesting than a LinkedIn link for these types of meetings. You may also know someone who can build a professional but inexpensive site that shows the world how good you really are. You will stand out.
17. During the interview ask what the ideal candidate brings to the table and write this stuff down
- After a job interview send a personal thanks which includes why you appreciated meeting them, why you are excited about the opportunity and why you feel you are the ideal fit for the job based on what you wrote down. Be confident and humble
- Most people don’t send a follow-up note. Some send an email. How about dropping off a handwritten letter to really standout?
Some other articles that may be worth reviewing
18. It can be frustrating at times because it’s difficult to see the finish line. Finding a job is a full-time job. Leave the house early, meet as many people as possible and be clear and concise about what you are looking for. When frustration kicks in it’s time to look for things you are not doing to improve your chances – and then do them. Continue to ask those you respect for help and advice.
19. When you’ve found your job show some gratitude for those that helped you along the way (no matter how much – if they helped they deserve a thank-you). Show them that you weren’t just using them to find a job and now you’re moving on. And for that person who directly helped you get the connection that finally got you the job? A gift card or a nice bottle of wine seems appropriate
20. When someone else asks for help in the job hunt in the future – offer to help. You know the experience they are going through and you know how difficult it is. Don’t forget that feeling when you have a job and someone else is looking. Carry it forward.
Best of luck in your search. The job will come no matter how frustrating the journey if you stick with it.
Author, Developing and Managing Your Career, What It Takes To Get That Promotion