Category Archives: job search advice

Six Steps out of In-transition

How to Overcome Fear While In-transition

Photo by Jamierodriguez37 at morgufile.com

Losing your job can happen instantly, or you might be told ahead of time because the company is restructuring, moving out of town, or the like. Regardless of the circumstances, it is vital to attempt to quickly regain equilibrium and find another suitable position—fast. Typically, though, your reaction to the new situation is not logical but emotional. For example, shortly after discharge, your intuition tells you to start calling people who in your mind could be potentially helpful. Logically, that makes sense, but practically, it’s a big mistake. The reason is that first, you’re not well balanced emotionally and so would probably sound too emotional or like sour grapes, and second, you’re not ready to answer certain valid questions.

As a 13-year veteran of serving as a practicing career coach, here is my best advice.

  1. Do nothing until you feel emotionally strong. If you’re still in denial, still angry, and still in shock, wait until you’ve regained your emotional energy, until your creativity is back, and until you feel committed again.
  2. Get your marketing collateral ready. There are at least two vital documents you must arm yourself with, and they must be developed for you by professionals. You need an outstanding—not just a very good—résumé and an equally outstanding LinkedIn profile. Both of them must include the right keywords for your industry—the keywords that recruiters and hiring managers query by. Do you know which ones they are? Most people react to this task intuitively by brushing off the dust from an old résumé, updating it with the most-recent information, and, often, soliciting friends to help them review and edit it. Sure sounds logical because with the loss of the job, your income stream has shut down and this is not a good time to incur major expenses for the services of professionals to create your documents. But think again. What’s the cost of every week that goes by without income? My strong suggestion is to hire a professional whose work will get you back to work faster. Make sure that the professional is highly recommended. Many quasi-professionals would love to get your money but unfortunately are unable to meet your expectations. By then it is too late. This point has been proved again and again.
  3. Start job search networking. Many people have not needed to network recently because they had a job and therefore never saw the importance of it, or they didn’t have the extra energy to put into it. It is known that 60 to 80 percent of people get their jobs via networking. Only single-digit percentages of people get their jobs by applying online.
  4. Develop your written and verbal communications. Throughout the job search period, all job seekers have to engage others either in writing or verbally. I’m not talking about chitchat but about business For instance, job seekers must write cover letters tailored to the descriptions of different jobs they apply for; they must write thank-you letters right after an interview; and they must write follow-up letters a while after an interview or a meeting or a conversation and so on.
  5. Prepare for an interview. Assume you get lucky and are among, say, five people called in for an interview. At this point—in a departure from the system used in the Olympic Games, in which there are three winners—here in the marketplace there is only one winner who will get the offer; all the rest are losers. Are you that good? Are you that one who is able to outshine your competition? And remember: the other candidates, too, are very good; otherwise, they wouldn’t have been called in to interview. Via the interview, you have only one chance to beat your competition. Can you do it? Forget that in the past you’ve gotten offers. So have your competitors.
  6. Learn to negotiate your compensation. Congratulations! An offer is in your hand, and you feel thrilled because you’ve hardly been able to wait for this moment to happen. But hold on: at this point, you have to accept the job, and the offering company is waiting for your answer, right? Not so fast. Now is the time to start the compensation negotiation process. Make sure you know how.

Via my own LinkedIn profile, you can download a self-assessment survey about reentering the job market. It’s free, and I hope you use it to advantage yourself in the job search process.

 

Personal Marketing for Job Search

What is personal marketing for job search? 

Finding a job is a competition

When searching for a job, the job seeker must first prepare marketing collateral before stepping into the actual job search. Proper preparation is absolutely the key to success. Jumping into a job search unprepared will not only bring disappointment and lengthen the process but also burn bridges for future attempts. Personal marketing is the creation of a bridge—or the means to be found—in a very competitive market, between the product to be sold (you) and an entity (the employer) that may have need of that specific product—namely, your skills. Regardless of how badly the employer needs that product or how vital it is for a person to generate income or value for that particular product, if one side cannot find and connect with the other, the transaction cannot be completed.

Personal marketing has to be a two-way street, as follows. Inbound marketing is the employer’s creation of the means of finding the candidate. Outbound marketing is the creation of the means for the product to be desirable and wanted by the company.

Outbound marketing 

First, figure out the kind of employer you want to market yourself to. Identify types of employers that look for an employee with your specific qualifications. Here’s how:

Segment your market by various criteria. In other words, where do you want to be in your new job? For example:

  1. By industry: Pharma, utility, financial, advertising, and so on
  2. By size: Large, medium, small, or any size at all
  3. By geographic preference and with or without travel
  4. In a physical job or a virtual one
  5. By position within the vertical hierarchy: CEO, vice president, manager, analyst, and so on.

 Figure out sources in order to locate job leads

  1. Search for published openings—for example, on Indeed, Monster, and LinkedIn Jobs. The yield, however, is within single digits.
  2. Network via personal acquaintances, family, friends, former colleagues, and job search networking groups. This approach is the most effective way to find employment, and historically, 60 to 80% of job seekers find their next job by networking.
  3. Various types of recruiters. The yield is around 10%.

Decide on a method for reaching out to prospective employers

  1. Phone call, either cold call or, preferably, by being introduced
  2. Personal letter of introduction
  3. Applying on line to a published opening
  4. Sending a letter with résumé
  5. Sending e-mail and/or regular postal mail
  6. A combination of all of the above should be considered.

Inbound marketing
For inbound marketing, the job seeker should find means of being found—and found desirable—by potential employers. The answer to this issue lies in the individual’s value proposition and personal branding. For those two issues to be fruitful and bring about the desired results, the information they contain has to be communicated consistently and distributed (a) in writing via the individual’s résumé, cover letter, thank-you letter, and business card; (b) by means of the Internet by way of the individual’s LinkedIn profile, other social media, and blogs or professional articles; and (c) verbally, via individual networking one-on-one, group networking, elevator pitch, conversations with recruiters, and of course the interview.

Personal marketing is not much different from marketing for business in general. In both cases, it is imperative to stay focused on the objective. Otherwise, a diluted approach will produce disappointing and weak results.

Five Essential Steps to a Great Job

She just accepted a new job

There are five essential steps to a great job, provided one is willing to do some hard work; shortcuts reduce chances. The following tips are for those who want to stay in the same field. For those who want to change fields or who have no idea what they want to do in the future, there are other steps; and for those career changers, most of these steps are still applicable. The five steps are:

  • Self-appraisal
  • Development of marketing collateral
  • Identification of employment opportunities
  • Project management
  • Interview preparation

Self-appraisal

People who find themselves in transition and are ready to go back to work have a good opportunity to do a self-appraisal. The exercise will pivot the skills and personal attributes that they want to use and sell to a future employer. There are a number of such self-appraisal tests that have been around for a long time and have proved worthwhile—or example, Myers–Briggs, DiSC, Keirsey Temperament Sorter–II, Career Insights, and StrengthsFinder.

Development of marketing collateral

The first things every job seeker must have are an outstanding résumé and an exceptional LinkedIn profile. Notice that I said outstanding and not good or very good. The reason is that because of the vast supply of mostly mediocre résumés and profiles, only outstanding marketing collateral is competitive. My strongest opinion is to have these documents created professionally by a certified and recommended party. Why, you ask? (a) Because you are in fierce competition with others who are also very good at what they do. (b) Because writing a résumé and a LinkedIn profile is part of a profession that requires rigorous training, top skills, longtime experience, and full understanding of the requirements of applicant tracking systems—the software that most medium-size and large companies use to parse résumés. And (c) because poor marketing collateral generates no traction and wastes time. Once a résumé and LinkedIn profile have been done, they’ll still need periodic tweaking. Make sure they contain the right keywords. You can research keywords via Google AdWords and check out your competition’s keywords via LinkedIn.

Next, develop your value proposition by answering to the following four questions. What do you do? Who are your customers? What benefits do your customers perceive that you provide? What do you offer that is unique or that is the kind of service your customers can’t get anywhere else?

The next step is the development of your personal brand. Personal brand is the impression you make, what you are known for, and what people say about you. A brand is not a logo, a tagline, or a product; it’s a relationship. People tend to relate to others they know, trust, and like. Personal branding consists of perception, reputation, influence, and image. When creating your personal brand, you have to be able to answer the following three questions. Who are you? What do you do? and, Why does it matter? You should routinely Google yourself, set up Google Alerts with your name, and brand your e-mail signature.

Now’s the time to start your personal marketing. First, define your objective and goal. Consider the type of job, determine the title, and list what’s important based on your values, such as recognition, money, job security, promotion, belonging, purpose, and commitment. Next, identify a specific audience. For example, you should target companies, employers, industries, locations, commuting distance, home office, and title. At all times, you have to differentiate yourself by targeting your audience with your message. Determine the best venue. Periodically measure your results and make adjustments accordingly.

The last step is to advertise and promote yourself. Use social media such as LinkedIn, Facebook, and Twitter. You have to relentlessly increase the number of connections on each social medium. To become visible, you have to participate in group discussions and answer questions. Such actions validate that you are an expert, and they differentiate you from the crowd. Make sure you have a professionally produced picture. Fill out your profiles on social media completely. LinkedIn makes it very easy to publish articles available to be read by a large audience. And last, participate in job search networking groups.

Identification of employment opportunities

Of course, that’s the ultimate goal, but where? There are several places. For example, a search on the LinkedIn tab called Jobs—by job title. Via an indeed.com search on title. Via SIC or NAICS code number (government industry classifications) on onetonline.org. Local libraries have various databases, but the most effective way is participation in various job search networking groups. Clearly, you must continually explore and research opportunities. A good source is by working with your local reference librarian. By participating in various LinkedIn groups, you can submit questions, and hopefully, people would be willing to help. Read job-search-relevant articles because they can provide clues. Focus on a dozen or so target companies, and follow their employment sections. Create a list of key people to contact primarily at your target companies.

Project management

Your job search could be protracted over several months. The amount of information available is quickly expanding to the point that a serious job seeker needs to start closely managing a job search project. At a minimum, a constantly updated spreadsheet will do. Some use a customer relationship management tool. A couple of the more popular ones are JibberJobber and CareerShift.

Interview preparation

This is an absolute must because in the end, there will be only one winner getting the job offer. Prepare for being asked Tell me about yourself.

Develop a minimum of 15 SARB or STAR or PAR or CAR answers. These are answers to interview questions in a format by which you start with the background situation, followed by the action you took, and ending with the result and the benefit to the employer. Best is to practice with someone who could guide and critique. An added value would be to record the practice session to see yourself in action. Research the company to the max. Appear extremely knowledgeable about the company you are interviewing with. Cultural fit with the organization is of utmost importance. And even though you cannot change the way they perceive you based on the impression you make, you can certainly influence that impression by showing them your interest in and deep knowledge about them. Thorough preparation can pay off very handsomely. But even that’s not the end. The company is in control of the process until they extend an offer, and at that point, control moves over to you. This is when you must continue learning about the company and its true culture, so that you can negotiate the compensation package. Most companies expect and are prepared to negotiate. Are you?