Each year I give hours of advice to job hunters on how to identify and secure the job they want. Next week, I’m doing a workshop on resumes & preparing for interviews for our current Empowered Women International Entrepreneur Training for Success program. I realized that the road map is the most important piece that comes before you can get to the interviews. I remembered the coaching tips or tweaks a matchmaker and dating coach gave me about dating. Yes, there are some strong similarities, and a few differences. Most of the time, it’s just small adjustments that can make a huge difference in your dating life or your job hunting success. Here are my coaching tips & tweaks that can improve your search for “The Job”.
It’s a lot of work, I won’t lie. No one else can do it for you, it takes research, name gathering, building a spreadsheet to track it all, and then you are finally ready to start your journey. Creating a road map is not for the faint hearted, and there may appear to be short cuts, but we all know what happens on those, the wolf eats you, or you get stuck in the mud. Here are the steps that I share with people who are looking for their next opportunity. Regardless of where you are in your career, I know this process works. You must be proactive to have success, and remember you can’t skip steps.
EVALUATE YOUR ABILITIES
- Where are you on the education spectrum, did you complete HS, tech school, college, grad school?
- Have you gained the skills of your trade, SW, HW, subject matter?
- Language skills?
- Do you have any work experience?
- Is it related to your areas of interest or unrelated?
- Do you need additional training or retraining?
- Have you crafted your “Elevator Pitch”?
- Is your resume well developed and representative of your best skills?
- Do you have people who will give you references?
- Have you built a portfolio, a body of work, or a reputation through presentations & publications?
PASSIVE VS PRO-ACTIVE
When people say they are job hunting and sending out 100s of resumes each day; or they tell you that they are applying to lots of jobs via the internet, but nothing is happening; they don’t understand why they aren’t making progress; I call this kind of job hunting “PASSIVE”. This kind of plan or action doesn’t get you closer to “The Job”.
The best career search is a PROACTIVE one. This requires effort, and going through all the steps I describe here, self-evaluation through creating a plan, and implementing it. Here’s the next step after self-evaluation.
NAME GATHERING & COMPANY IDENTIFICATION
First, leverage your spheres of influence, your inner circle to your outer circle. Gather names of people you have worked with over time, people you went to school with, people you have met in your field. Next expand your circles to people you know or can be introduced to through friends and family. The outermost ring is created by doing research on people you heard speak at professional meetings, or discovered online, or read something they wrote.
To grow your networking options even more, consider organizations where each of these professionals work now or have in the past (see LinkedIn comments for more info). Plus professional associations that are strong in your industry are a great resource. There are lots of tools out there to do research and gather information. Now, within moments you can Google information about most any organization or person. What can be especially helpful is the power of LinkedIn. You don’t have to pay for the service, the free version has plenty of bandwidth.
I’ve walked many a person through some of the helpful tools or data points you can gain from LinkedIn. I’m sure there are many more ways to use this medium but I’m going to share some basics here.
POWER OF LINKEDIN
Looking up a person on LinkedIn gives you several pieces of information. You can see where they trained and what firms they worked with over time. You can also see similar profiles on the right hand side of your screen. Below the list of similar people, you can also see profiles that other people checked out. This gives you additional people or possible companies to network with about their roles or organizations.
If you look up a company, you can see all the employees who are on LinkedIn, presently working with the firm, or who have in the past. Plus, there are often groups of alumni-former employees, or groups with shared interests on a myriad of topic areas. Once you are looking at a company profile, you can also see a list on the bottom right hand side of your screen that shows similar companies. This is another way to gather related companies and their employees for potential networking.
Gathering all the information on small scraps of paper, or on your phone in lists, doesn’t count. It’s really important to build a solid spreadsheet in Excel or something similar. I like to capture the date you enter the information, the company, the contact with their title, their contact information, their industry sector, follow up dates, and notes.
Schedule everything on a calendar (Google or Outlook), and include any follow up instantly or it won’t happen. Trust me after years of recruiting, I know that it takes several efforts to reach someone (no it’s not personal when they don’t respond), and there is no way you will remember to follow up if you don’t put it on your calendar. Numbers are key. You need to reach out to lots of people and companies through different mediums; email, phone, and LinkedIn to have success.
In the tracking notes you need to write down the outcomes; if you need to send information, or need to follow up, or even to arrange a meeting. You will not have any recollection of someone after you speak with 50 people. There are CRM systems out there, but not everyone has access to this. Write down your notes so you won’t forget something key.
ANALYZING YOUR RESULTS
Periodically assess your tool. See if tracking sheet needs reorganization. Look to see if there are patterns, or sectors that are stronger, or what you can learn from all the data. DO NOT SPEND HOURS MAKING PRETTY CHARTS AND NOT REACHING OUT TO PEOPLE OR HAVING CONVERSATIONS. Working on your tracking sheet can be used as a way to procrastinate, but the tracking device is to keep you on your path. Plus, sometimes you can get travel weary or discouraged. The TRACKING DEVICE will show you that you are making progress on your journey.
Start reaching out to people for Informational Interviews (Informational Interviews). Be prepared to share your pitch, follow up, and ask good questions. Track the outcomes, and know that you are getting closer and closer to your destination. There is a good opportunity out there waiting for you to find it, it’s up to you to map the best course. Don’t forget to enjoy the journey.