A Job Seeker's Guide to a Productive Job Search
How can you make the most of your job search?
"There's lots of jobs in search of talent. And there is lots of talent in search of meaningful work." –Maynard Webb
As a recent job seeker, I can attest to this quote. Lots of jobs out there, and no shortage of talent looking to land the next job! I've been in job hunt mode three times before, and each time I have come away with some new skills and knowledge. For this blog I would like to share three tips that will make your employment hunt a better, more productive, and hopefully shorter, experience.
If you have faced a job hunt before you know it's always easier to land a job when you already have one. For some, looking while working can be the way to go. Sometimes you can sense that your company is changing direction. That might be the time to dust off the resume, and brush up your LinkedIn profile. Maybe you just aren't being fulfilled by the work that you are doing, it may be time to consider a job search. When you are having those interviews, while still employed the "tell me why are you thinking of leaving company X?" is a lot easier to answer than, "tell me why did you leave company X?" Especially if the reason you left wasn't your choice.
It's important to balance the job hunt with your current job. Plan your job search time. Be respectful of your current employer—don't job search when you are at work. Take advantage of lunch breaks. Spend time in the evening for an hour or two. You may feel like you are being disloyal to your company by searching for another job, while still employed, but let's face it, companies routinely lay off employees with no thought of loyalty. I would say be respectful, and do your job search when you are off the clock. Also make sure you provide your employer two to three weeks notice in order to leave on good terms. You never know when you may need a reference, or some assistance.
If you find yourself looking for another job after a lay-off, or down sizing, the same rule applies. Have a plan! Book time, and stick to that time for your job hunt. There are many potential time wasters that can derail a job seeker. YouTube, Facebook, and Twitter to name just three. Netflix, and the TV can be another draw. If you fail to plan. You plan to fail. Set aside time within each day to seek employment. You can spend that time either applying to jobs online, or maybe you are setting up networking meetings with people in your industry. Whatever the activity, plan that time. Don't get sucked into a time waster. Focus is required in a job search.
For me, I find I do better, and stay focused, when I am out of my house. I head to my local Starbucks and do my interview hunt work there. I tend to stay more focused on the work at hand and get more accomplished. The added bonus is that I have to get dressed to head out. Staying home in PJ's or comfy clothes, and not showering or taking care of yourself can really derail a job search, and lead to those time wasters I mentioned above.
Sometimes the lay-off comes out of nowhere, the department downsizing is done without warning. You now find yourself having to job hunt while unemployed, and it will not be an easy task. A friend of mine, who is also in job hunt mode, said that it can feel like a roller coaster of emotions. Learning to manage the ups and downs will be a big factor in your job search. You can go from elation, getting an interview, to the dumps when you don't hear back from that prospective employer. Interviewers will pick up on your "vibe." You want to project confidence and calm. Not negativity or nervousness.
How can you stay calm when without a job? Be grateful for the interview, rather than being focused on the job. If you are trying too much, because you really really want the job, you may come across as desperate. Be happy to get the interview, be excited about the potential job. Just stop yourself from the "I really want to work here." "I wonder where my desk would be when I get this job?" Stay humble and focused on landing interviews. Be grateful when you get an interview, and enjoy the process of marketing yourself. Sometimes the interview process can involve multiple rounds of interviews. Again don't get too swept up when you get the call back for the second interview. Be grateful that you gained another audience. Potential employers will see someone who interviews well and appears natural.
My final word of advice is to find an accountability buddy, or get a small group of people that can keep you to your word. Again it's important that you keep the forward moving energy. It's easy to talk a good game, but it requires work and effort to get interviews (remember that's the goal, get interviews). When you have a job you may not have the urgency to get into full hunt mode. When you are a free agent you may be tempted to waste some time. I find the accountability buddy helps to keep you on track. Set up a regular appointment with someone. Could be a face to face or a phone chat. Having someone that you have to answer to, or share your progress with, is proven to help people stay on track. That person can also be a resource to help you consider some different tracks or strategies to land that interview. In my case I have a former customer of my Starbucks who does a great job of telling me what I need to hear. Not what I WANT to hear. She talks straight, and calls me when I bluff, or make excuses for why I didn't take action.
Whether your job hunt is from a position of strength (you are currently employed and looking), or from a position of opportunity (you are unemployed and looking) taking the steps to plan your time to job search, keeping the goal on getting an interview, rather then getting a job, and finally, get an accountability buddy, or a small group to help you stay on the course, and offer support and guidance. Taking on those three steps will aid in your job hunt. If you have a tip or suggestion for someone in job hunt mode, feel free to leave them in the comments.