I've been inundated lately with clients who have been laid off or terminated due to economic reasons. Several hiring managers I’ve talked to have said that for every open position, there are literally hundreds of applicants. The jobs that do exist are simply being flooded.
The interesting thing I’ve noted is that there are now a lot of people suddenly without employment who haven’t ever conducted a job search before or haven’t had to do so in a long time. A common refrain I hear is a bewildered, “Where do I start?”
So exactly what is the secret to a successful job search, given these market conditions? The key is laser-precise targeting.
Successful job searches begin with a three-legged stool approach:
Polished résumé + targeted job search + network, network, network = successful search
You can have one or two of these components, but your stool won’t be on solid ground and steady. Something is definitely missing. Each ‘leg’ of this framework is geared to compliment and solidify support of the other legs.
Polished résumé. Job seekers nowadays have to be relentless and fearless. Take the time to figure out where you should best spend your job search energies. Is it the field that you have the most expertise in? Or is it a new direction where you can leverage your skills sets? Whichever direction you choose, you have to be focused. No “one size fits all” résumé will do. Additionally, take the time to polish your résumé – either utilize web resources, check out a ‘how to’ book from the library, or hire a professional résumé writer to make sure your achievements and value proposition stand out to prospective employers.
Targeted job search. Just as you have focused your résumé into a specific area, this is where you match that document up to the jobs that fit that description. If you have multiple talents (and most people do), you might create several different versions of your résumé targeting different fields to reflect that varied background. But, the important thing is that you need to match apples to apples. You can’t be a teacher and suddenly apply for a pharmacy technician position utilizing your teaching background- it simply doesn’t translate. Understanding your target market for your focused résumé is critical!
Networking. Here’s a startling statistic: 70%. This is the percentage of people who find jobs through networking. What does that say to you? It should tell you that you need to get out of the house and start talking to people.
Here’s a quick list of ideas to get the ball rolling:
1. Volunteer – you can meet people, contribute to a cause and feel good. It’s a win-win situation
2. Trade association events – volunteer to help out with registration for a related industry conference- you’ll be meeting everyone at the registration counter
3. Networking events/luncheons – mingling at these events can open doors
4. Job support groups – find out and leverage existing contacts from others in your same situation- most job seekers are willing to share their Rolodexes in exchange for the same favor
5. Classes – you can meet other people and even find out about job leads
6. Online business networking- LinkedIn.com is just one great resource to find out who your contacts know to connect to people and jobs
7. Informational interviews – these can be set up through someone you know or else you can try the ‘cold-call’ route. Remember: You are trying to get information, not a job. Informational interviews can be incredibly insightful, and if you handle it well (send a thank you note afterwards), you might just also gain an internal advocate for you at that company!
Looking for a job is a full-time job, and again, in this marketplace, you will only be successful if you focus your effort on the three-pronged approach, and be relentless and fearless. Instead of marketing someone else’s product, you are now marketing your own commodity: YOU.