Estimates are that the average young worker today will change careers (not jobs) seven times in his or her professional lifetime. While searching for a better-fitting job can be time-consuming and frustrating, here are some fundamentals that can increase your odds of landing the job you seek.
First, it’s always easier to find another job while you are still employed, and your odds are better still if you stayed long enough to accomplish something outstanding.
If you are unemployed, make finding a job your job. Put in your 40-hour work week on your job-seeking plan.
Start with a realistic self-assessment (you may want to invest in a career coach for help). At a minimum, this assessment should include:
- Your top strengths and weaknesses.
- Your unique “transferable” skills, talents and abilities.
- Your career interests: passions, purpose, what you enjoy/are good at and long-term career objectives.
Establish your criteria for a “right” fit position/company. Research companies of interest. Consider investigating “great companies to work for.” Search company Web sites, recruiters specializing in your field and job boards. Investigate the company before your interview; find a way to demonstrate your knowledge of them during the interview. Be prepared to answer the common interview question: “Tell us why you would fit in here?”
Market yourself. Be creative — potential employers appreciate innovative, out-of-the-box thinkers. One clever job hunter took out a billboard on a busy metropolitan intersection and landed a great job! Millions of job seekers use Internet job search sites such as Monster (a recent survey: 89 percent of all job hunters are registered with Monster), Careerbuilder, Hotjobs, etc. (Don’t forget Craigslist.) There are Internet chat rooms, message boards, user groups and networking sites that offer job search opportunities. But don’t put all your eggs into the Internet job search basket; surveys say only between 2 percent and 4 percent of job seekers find jobs this way. Still, posting resumes on these sites makes it easier for employers and recruiters to find you.
Network. The best jobs are often never advertised. Most companies look first to their own people for recommendations (many companies report between 40 percent and 50 percent of jobs are filled by internal referrals from staff). Surveys show that most people find jobs via colleagues, associates, friends and referrals (some estimate more than 80 percent of jobs are found this way).
E-mail and talk to your list of co-workers, industry/association colleagues, friends, alumni and neighbors. The more people that know you are job hunting, the better. Communicate your job needs and ask for help from those who know you and your work. Don’t forget networking sites such as LinkedIn. These sites are growing exponentially, are often used by recruiters and can keep you in touch with your networking contacts.
Set up “informational interviews.” Offer to take people in the field to coffee or lunch. Use these meetings (remember, they are not job interviews!) to learn about a company, job or industry.
Don’t leave without asking any networking contact if they know someone else who they would suggest you talk to; informational interviews can lead to those who might be hiring.
Update and revamp your resume for the digital age. You may want to hire professional help, someone who can fine-tune your resume and make it scannable and searchable.
Google yourself. Warning: This may be painful. Many savvy potential employers are using the Internet to find out all they can about a potential hire. Recent college grads, be forewarned: All those comments or photos you posted on networking sites or blogs are public and can come back to haunt you. Your potential employers may not be too impressed by your gambling or beer guzzling hobbies listed on MySpace.
There are firms that specialize in “erasing” anything you wouldn’t want your mother, or your potential employer, to see.
Prepare for interviews. You simply won’t get a good job without a good interview. First impressions are critical — you won’t get a second chance to make one. How you dress, articulate and speak (your tone of voice is like your second face), your attitude, professionalism, energy, eye contact and confidence all matter. There is expert help to prepare for interviews, particularly if you know you don’t interview well. Career coaches can offer constructive feedback on your responses (i.e., are they clear, too short, rambling or missing the point?).
Here are areas career coaches can help you develop for interviews:
- Your talking points
- What stories best convey why they should hire you
- Your unique selling proposition (what distinguishes you from others)
- Your answers to questions such as, “Why did you leave your last job?”
- Questions you should be asking them
- Any blind spots you may be missing (or what you need to do if you aren’t getting any second interviews, etc.)
The good news: If you are good, companies want to hire you.
Invest in yourself by hiring me as your coach! I can help you land the right job. I coach leaders all over the world via Skype. Call me: 360 682 5807 or email: firstname.lastname@example.org