Anyone that says looking for a job is fun is lying. It’s not fun, and depending on your circumstances it can be downright stressful. But like most things in life, there are different ways to arrive at the same place. Some methods are more linear, while others are more free-flowing. Because your individual style dictates what you’re most comfortable doing, there’s no right or wrong style to approach a job search. That being said, there is a definitive list of things you should absolutely consider doing to ensure success. In no particular order, they are:
- Get A Career Coach. Sometimes we can’t see the forest through the trees. Objectivity rules when conducting a career search. You’ve got to know what to do, and you have to understand what makes sense for you, not what other people think makes sense for you. Are you targeting the right jobs? Are you prepared to do what the job requires? There’s got to be significant skill evaluation and assessment, which can only happen with a skilled and dispassionate coach who will ask the right questions. Then you’ve got to understand how opportunity research happens. It’s an ever-changing world out there, you can’t escape using technology, to any degree, when doing a job search. Do you know best practices for looking for jobs? And finally, you’ve got to brand yourself perfectly. That means having a perfectly written LinkedIn profile, well-written resume(s) and cover letter(s), and you must understand the politics of interviewing. While most career coaches want to work with you for hours and hours, for weeks and weeks, I cover months of material in 3 robust hours in my fast-track 3-3-3 career coaching process.
- Give Lesser-Known Companies A Chance. Just because a company isn’t a name brand doesn’t mean it’s not an excellent company and employer. Often people overlook great companies because they’ve never heard of them. If you’re only applying to huge companies don’t be surprised if you don’t hear back from them, they’re getting thousands of resumes every week. Google receives 2 million resumes a year, they can’t respond to every applicant, not even close. Consider this, at larger companies your role and purview will be more narrowly defined. In smaller or midsized companies you’ll have greater exposure and be more visible.
- Research. It’s critical you be equally well-versed and insightful about yourself (see number 1) and the company you’re applying to. If you cant’ articulate why you make total sense for the role, don’t apply. Know everything about the company, and the job, and be obvious about it in your cover letter and the interview. Whether you comment on the company’s reputation, products or services, financial performance, issues platforms or culture, do your homework and make it obvious. If you don’t do your research, the other applicant who did will knock you out of the running.
- Follow Your Passion. Look, you need a job and a paycheck, so what if you don’t love the products the company’s politics? Should you still apply and take the job if offered. No! Don’t do it! We spend a third of our waking lives at work, can you imagine how nerve grinding it would be to work at a company that goes against your code or ethics, morals and what you believe? Working for a company that makes benign beige products is a lot different than working for a company that does inhumane factory animal farming. Look for a company you can get behind. If you can’t be passionate about the employer, at least be able to talk about what they do without being sad. There are thousands of companies producing helpful products and services, seek them out and engage them by create compelling resumes and cover letters.
- Dare to be Different. There are many ways to follow your passion. Just because you love animals doesn’t mean the best and only job is being a veterinarian – you can be a trainer, care-giver, work for a pet products company, groomer, animal nutritionist, or support wildlife conservation or pubic policy. You get the idea. There are multiple ways to follow your passion and work in your desired field or industry. If you’re having a hard time with this, read paragraph #1.
- Be Geographically Agnostic. In other words, open your search to more than one geography. Unless you live in a major metropolitan area, job opportunities will be finite. If you are willing to commute further you’ll increase the gene-pool of opportunities. At a certain point relocation is often less disruptive than driving for hours every day. After the “.com bust” I relocated my family from the Bay Area to the Pacific Northwest. We met some of our best friends because of the move and our son learned a lot about making new friends and living in a culturally different place. Five years later we moved back to the Bay Area. People move around a lot nowadays. Just be open.
Sample, Try and Experiment.Having different jobs makes you a marketable candidate. The person who has 2 jobs in 25 years is not as marketable as the person who had 4 jobs in 25 years. You may not know exactly what you want to be doing when you get out of school. You may not know exactly what you want to be doing after 15 years. It doesn’t matter. People reinvent themselves all the time. Not everyone is lucky enough to know they want to be a doctor or lawyer or accountant from the time they were kids. Your skills toolbox fills up quickly when you have different jobs. Working for different companies helps you decide what you really want to be doing. The perspective once gains from working in different companies is invaluable. Gone are the days when people try to stay at one company their entire career. Sure, it happens, but that’s the exception to the rule. Changing jobs helps to increase your earnings, marketability, and skill sets.