By Brad Middleton
Since we have moved on from the holiday season and are back to work, I am guessing there are a number of you out there that are looking for a change. Just walking back into that office for the first time in 2018 could have been enough to push you over the edge. No matter what the cause, jumping into a full-blown job search early in the year can seem daunting. Here are some tips that can hopefully lessen the pain and get you on the right track to a new job in the new year.
This first step may be easy to overlook, but it’s critical that you take this seriously. Brainstorming. Yes, brainstorming (or sometimes just listening to your instincts/guts/heart.) Whatever you want to call it it’s important to come up with the why, what, and how after you’ve decided it’s time to make a change. It could be as easy as taking some time to review all of the reasons why you want to find a new gig. Make sure after you capture this list to let it set in for a bit. Then look at the list the next day and verify that these “why’s” are honest and accurate.
Next, start compiling a list of what your ideal job and company would look like. It seems that a lot of job seekers feel like they know this information, but when asked it’s difficult to explain. Zero-in on your preferred industries, size of company, commute, and even their reputation in the community. We live in an age where practically anything can be reviewed online – especially companies.
Once you nail down the why and the what, it is time to move into action. Take some time to spruce up your social media presence. When producing new content for your profiles keep in mind the audience you want to attract. Think of hiring managers, recruiters, human resources, and even people in your network that are going to view this material and ask themselves if your profile is a match for their company. There are a ton of articles and “how-to’s” online that cover updating your social media profiles. There are also a boat-load of resources online to help with resume writing. If you are starting from scratch consider a professional to help you do a complete overhaul.
Some people start their search by hitting the networking angle hard. While this is not a bad idea, I do question people on what their message is when they are networking without a plan. Would you walk into a potential interview without a plan? Probably not. Then why walk into initial stages of trying to market yourself to get that interview without a plan? If you have outlined the why and what you have almost everything you need to sell yourself when the time comes. Reach out to the people you’ve worked with in the past, people you’ve reported to, people you have admired, as well as friends and family, to let them know you are looking and what you are looking for. Ideally, you would want to start with contacts who work or have a history with companies you identified during brainstorming.
Two must do’s when powering up your existing network. First, make sure you are catering your message to its intended audience. Don’t get too casual with people you would count as an acquaintance – and don’t get too stuffy with people you know well. It’s just weird. Second, and this is extremely important, figure out how to be there for your network and provide them something in return. No one likes the people who only reach out when they need something!
As a follow up you will also want to expand and grow your existing network. You can approach this through your social media connections, but I like going straight to the source. Sign up and attend at least one networking or social group focused on your specific industry or line of work. This can be intimidating – do it anyway. Get out of your comfort zone and set a goal to meet a certain number of people at each event. You will be pleasantly surprised with how kind and supportive most people are within these groups. They get it and more than likely can provide you with something that you wouldn’t uncover yourself.
Double down on all of this legwork by getting someone to work for you as well. This is when a relationship with a good recruiter, or two, can be extremely helpful. Ask around to see who in your network has had dynamite experiences with recruiters and connect with them. Remember, working with a recruiter is not a replacement for your own efforts. It’s, in addition, to hopefully uncover some opportunities that you don’t have normal access to. With this in mind, a good recruiter will set expectations with you about how to best work with them. Check in at the agreed upon frequency and keep an eye out for their company’s job site postings as well as the recruiter’s social media pages.
With all of this activity, and one or two professionals working behind the scenes, the opportunities that match up with your new job preferences should start to reveal themselves. Obviously, making the connections and getting traction with the roles is only half the battle. You have to sell yourself appropriately during the interview process to land that offer. Lean on your trusted recruiter to help you with the do’s and don’ts of interviewing when the time comes. Remember, during an interview you are gauging if the company, team, and manager are a fit for your preferences just as much as they are interviewing you. You have done all of the prep work and identified exactly what you are looking for.
Once you are done wowing your perfect fit and you’ve accepted that offer make sure you thank each and every person you enlisted to help. They want to know that you landed exactly what you were looking for and they will also know that you are more than happy to help them when it’s their turn to find their perfect new job!