When clients with stalled job searches (or careers in general) first contact me, they often see the cause as something beyond their control. They tell me "I'm too old (or young)," "I'm overqualified (or under-qualified)," "there are no jobs, (especially in this COVID thing)" "I've sent in over a hundred applications with no response," or "I don't have enough (or the right) experience."
While in some cases they may be right, most of the time I find that they face a different problem with a MUCH easier solution. So, I've compiled 5 ways you can jump-start your job search based on my experience personally, as well as my clients' over the years.
1. Make sure your message resonates
Too many people act desperate saying "How can you help me?" You need to rethink this....and remember that the hiring company is ALSO saying "How can you help me?".
So, your number one job is to make sure you answer this question in your resume, LinkedIn profile, emails/cover letters, and elevator pitch. This means dropping jargon that is ONLY relevant to your current or last job, and using the language of your next.
If you aren't sure how to position yourself correctly, do some research by a) looking at job postings for keyword ideas, b) looking at the LinkedIn profiles of those who do what you want to do, c) reading the blogs and journals that reflect your sector, and d) talking to people -- get informational meetings with those in your target field. And of course, seek out professional coaching.
2. Have a targeted resume
I don't know how many times I have to tell people, you can't and SHOULD NOT be all things to all people. Have a SPECIFIC resume and pitch for each job target. A couple examples of job targets include "Creative Marketing Director, large advertising agencies" or "Data Analyst, pharmaceutical companies."
One client's resume initially highlighted her human resource, chief financial officer, and project management expertise equally, because she wanted to be sure she was considered for all of these opportunities. But her resume wasn't getting any interest. Hmmmm, WHY??!
The reason: She was watering down her message. For example, when she went for an accountant position, they chose the competitor resumes that were all about accounting. Once we created three DIFFERENT versions of her resume, one for each target, she started becoming more competitive.
3. Take an "active" approach to your search
As soon as I hear a client say, "I've applied to over 100 jobs, and no response," I already suspect a major problem: too much focus on "applying." Just waiting for the ad to show up or the search firm to call is INEFFECTIVE because it's PASSIVE.
Yes, you heard me right. INEFFECTIVE AND PASSIVE.
You need to actively go out and get what you want. The most successful job hunters know how to build and leverage their network and contact “strangers” directly to get meetings; that is, they tap into the hidden job market. LinkedIn can be of great assistance with these two approaches.
Don’t just passively drift around in the employment ocean ladies and gentlemen, hoping the currents will take you to that island of your dreams. You need to actively seek out that island and then swim to it! So in the job search process, what that means is spend at least 80% of your time networking and contacting strangers directly who you want to meet, and 20% or less on job postings and search firms.
4. Play the Numbers Game
Even if you do everything else right, at the end of the day it's still a numbers game. You HAVE to go for enough "potential" in your job search, and then seek to get as many meetings as possible.
Here's what I mean by "potential." I had one client who wanted to be a chief marketing officer (CMO) at a mid-sized organization, and he targeted six organizations where he wanted to work. That's only six possible positions (since there's only one CMO at each firm), and of course he needed to wait for one of the current CMOs to leave before he even had a shot! So his job search was taking FOREVER.
The solution: He expanded his search's potential by targeting more positions, through adding organizations, new geographies, and additional titles.
Then you want to get enough meetings. If you are just hanging your hopes on one or two interviews, that's not even close to enough. I know it's time-consuming, but you HAVE to get numerous conversations going (not just interviews, but informational interviews) with people in a position to hire you. Because it's a numbers game, most of those won't turn into anything. But a few will. Building up enough volume is key to success.
Once people meet with you, new possibilities open up (even if nothing is open now), through staying in touch or getting referrals. This is how I've landed EVERY job EVER.
5. Stay in touch with your network
Not staying in touch is one of the BIGGEST mistakes job seekers make. If you're in a job search, reach out every three to five weeks. Track it. If you already have a job, reach out two to four times a year. Send them a simple "hello and here's how I'm doing" email, or a link to something they may find useful in their industry, or "additional thoughts" since your last meeting.
Don't do what one client did before he came to see me. He said, "I've been looking for a year, with no results." (MAJOR RED FLAG)
I asked, "Have you had any informational meetings?" He said that he had a number of great meetings a year ago, at companies where he wanted to work, but he hasn't spoken to them since. (AGAIN, RED FLAG)
I said, "If you had kept in touch with these people, you probably would have had an offer by now" and he agreed. Remember, only 50% of successful networking is about actually meeting people, in-person or virtually. The other 50% involves keeping in touch to build real relationships. Imagine if you only talked to your best friend or family members two to three times a year?!? Not a great relationship right? No depth, right? Same concept applies here.
So are you ready to jump-start your job search? Don't do what everyone else is doing. Step out of your comfort zone and start doing things that are EFFECTIVE for your job search.