When looking for a new opportunity, like with most things in life, successful execution starts with a good plan. As we all know, looking for a new career can be a daunting exercise. Doing so without a clear plan can be highly frustrating, and often downright futile. Below is a high level outline for increasing your odds of not only finding your next opportunity, but landing one that you’ll love.
1. Know thyself. Before “looking for a job”, it is important to step back and think about what job you would ideally want to secure and then to balance that with what you are qualified for and what balance you are willing to strike between compensation, work-life balance, and job satisfaction. A few questions you should ask yourself as you begin the job search process:
- If money wasn’t the primary focus, what would I love to do every day and what am I passionate about?
- How much do I need to make? What is the minimum compensation I can live with in the short term, until I can get into a company and prove myself?
- What are my natural gifts?
- What are my most marketable skills?
- Do I need to contain my job search process within a particular job function or industry, or can I broaden my focus?
- What are my geographical constraints? Am I willing to relocate? How far am I willing to commute?
2. Be intentional as you create your “short list” of desired career destinations.
- Treat the job search process like a full time job, because that’s exactly what it is.
- Review job opportunities in your area on job search sites along with the career sites of major local employers, and flag those that look interesting. Load them into a spreadsheet to closely track and manage your job search efforts.
- Take time to research the companies that make your “short list”. Get to know them intimately. You should also research the hiring manager or recruiter on LinkedIn and load everything you can find into your job search spreadsheet.
- Develop a thorough, detailed, and professional plan for how you will attempt to secure appointments (interviews) with each of these companies. This will certainly include customization of your resume and cover letter, but needs to extend beyond that. Do you know anyone who already works at any of your top companies? If so, invite them for coffee so you can pick their brain and maybe even get some “inside information”. Does anything in your background align with the background of the hiring manager or recruiter? Does it make sense to reach out directly to the hiring manager? Maybe even stop by the office in person? Think, plan, strategize, and be creative…
3. Develop your professional brand and create your marketing strategy. Polish your resume and do a self-check of your online presence. Google yourself, as any recruiter or hiring manager surely will. Look at how you appear on social networks and clean up anything that is less than 100% professional.
- Would you hire you? If the answer is no, be proactive and fix it. Make yourself attractive to a savvy recruiter that will no doubt fully vet you during the pre-outreach process. Clean up any brand damage you may have online and proactively make sure you are presenting yourself in the best possible light.
- The first step is to secure the interview. Work tenaciously, purposefully, and intentionally to get their attention and get face time with the company.
4. Use the interview to make an outstanding and differentiating first impression.
- Once you have an interview, this is the time to roll up the sleeves and really get to work. Spend a significant amount of time researching and learning everything you possibly can about the industry, the company, their competitors, your potential role, the key players within the company, the company history, and key products.
- Develop a strong and thought-provoking list of questions that clearly demonstrate your newly acquired knowledge and show your hunger for the position. And when they answer, probe deeper, further demonstrating your professionalism, thoroughness, and desire.
5. Ask for the business.
- Show your confidence, drive, ambition, and desire by asking for the job. Close strong. Have a “closing argument” prepared in advance and be ready to dazzle them with your thoughtful, intentional, and heartfelt pitch on why you want to work there and why you would make a great asset to the company.
So many job seekers approach the job search process with a shotgun mentality, playing the “numbers game” and applying to as many jobs as possible. They barely take the time to know the company, come to the interview without proper preparation, and almost enter the discussion with a defeatist mentality. By taking the opposite approach – the “sniper” approach – of being thorough, intentional, purposeful, confident, and focused, you will find that you will have a much better chance not only of getting a job, but of securing one that you will love and enjoy.
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