A young man in the tech industry who worked with me for nearly a decade got me started thinking about the key to successful job hunting.
The tech industry is notorious for its high turnover and this young man enjoyed working in startups, where the turnover is even greater. As a result, he found himself looking for work every year or two. What amazed me was that every job search that he conducted led to significant advancement, even when he left his previous job under less than ideal circumstances.
One of the key lessons I learned from working with him was that looking for a job is a job. But it is a job that is very different from your regular job.
As with any job you have to take it seriously, but there are also some unique aspects to the job of job hunting.
I’ve outlined below some of the key components of this young man’s success. And I have since used these lessons successfully with many other people who are looking for work.
it’s natural to feel hesitant to talk about losing a job or being out of work. The successful job searching is really about letting as many people as possible know what you’re looking for and why. You need to come up with a good short summary of why and what you’re looking for and you need to let as many people as possible know this information. After all, almost everybody you will be talking to has been out of work at one point or another. Don’t be shy.
Create a Vision
A successful job hunting campaign depends on having a clear vision of what it is that you want and why you would be good at that job. I love the second half of the book, “What Color is Your Parachute” because it focuses precisely on helping you be clear about your “life mission” so that you can be confident that you’re looking for the right job and share that confidence with the people you talk to.
Care for Yourself
Even though most people find themselves worried about needing to save money when they are looking for a job, I’m going to make a strong pitch for devoting more time and energy to self-care. You might want to consider signing up with the gym more hiring personal trainer, and you certainly should make sure that you continue to see your therapist and do whatever else is necessary to to stay in your best mental health.
Develop Your Strengths
If you been looking for a job for a while, it’s easy to become disconnected from the sense of confidence about your abilities that is so critical to successful job hunting. My expert job seeker would always take advantage of periods of unemployment to take extra classes and develop additional skills. This served two functions. It gave him a boost of self-confidence and allowed him to enhance his skills and stay on top of a rapidly evolving field. Another option is to do in formal, unpaid, projects for friends or for a nonprofit. This also allows you to strengthen your resume, and working on projects with friends may lead to new job opportunities.
A Realistic Schedule
I have never met anyone who could effectively job hunt for more than six hours a day. For many people, four hours a day, combined with self care, skill development, and other tasks, is a more reasonable and sustainable schedule. Think not only of how much time to devote to looking for work, but also when you should schedule job searching activities. Many of them may require pretty good focus and an optimistic mood. What time of day are you most likely to be feeling that way? And when might you need to take a break for some physical activity? Work gives structure to our days, now you will have to create that structure for yourself.
Look for ways of getting help with your job search. Consider helping a friend with some task he or she is avoiding in exchange for help with your interview skills, or resume. Or, better yet, consider hiring a professional resume writer. This is an area that is evolving rapidly as businesses develop better and better ways of reviewing electronic resumes. You don’t want yours to be missing important information.
Be sure to devote enough time practicing for the phone and online interviews, as well as the in-person meetings. The are strategies that can make a big difference to how you are perceived and whether you make it to the next step. One of our friends recommends applying for a job that you are not really sure you want, just so that you can have a chance to do a dry run for job interviews that might be more important.
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