Category Archives: job search strategy

Get your job search tools sharpened!

So, you have your workspace and basic job setup well in place. Now you have to start sharpening the tools at your disposal and create some structure:

Resume:

  • If you have not updated your resume and have done a good once over to make sure it is relevant, articulate and compelling… do so now!
  • Have someone you feel would be an impartial judge critique
  • Proofread it again… and again!!
  • If you are looking for positions that have distinctly different “flavors” (e.g. Manager vs. Individual Contributor) make sure you have a resume that is laser-focused on each area instead of one that shows you as more of a generalist unless it makes sense to do so (you may be targeting smaller, start-ups where a jack or jill-of-all-trades may be more desirable)
  • Same as above for cover letters, have one for each instance ready. Your process will become much more streamlined and efficient  if you can keep the “customization” of covers to a minimum

Job Boards:

  • Make sure your new resume and covers are synced up to your job board profiles
  • Create job agents. These are automated searches the job boards will do for you based on your desired jobs and keywords and email you on a daily or weekly basis
  • Dead horse beating time: LinkedIN is a JOB BOARD too! Get an account if you haven’t yet. If you do, get your profile updated and start connecting. I should be on their payroll!

Goal Setting:

  • Figure a reasonable amount of jobs you want to apply for per day. Don’t fire off resumes willy nilly to every job that remotely looks like a fit. Then again, make sure you are applying enough to make it a numbers game – odds go up the more places that see your resume. If you are doing 6-8 hours a day, I would set a reasonable goal of 5-6 applications a day. This will give you the proper time to research the company and role to see if it is something you truly would like to do. It also lets you craft a well thought out, brief cover letter since you already have the templates
  • Network, Network, Network! Sort of like the equivalent of Location, Location, Location in real estate. Folks, this is your quickest path to your next job. Job boards serve a purpose but they are a supplement to networking. One of the most effective tools in your “swiss army knife” is the people you know. They will know someone or someone who knows someone who needs you!
  • Follow the 50-25-1 rule. What does this cryptic sequence of digits mean? This is a good networking rule of thumb for job seekers (active or passive.) On a weekly basis, you need to do:
    • 50 Networking emails
    • 25 Network phone calls
    • 1 Face to face networking meeting (one-on-one or group), this can be an office meeting, a lunch, a dinner or quick cup of coffee at your place of choice…they all count!

I know these sound like rigorous goals. However, the more process-oriented, organized and disciplined in your job search you are, the quicker you can quit.

There is one other side benefit of all this work. Can you guess?

OK, I won’t keep you waiting. Don’t think of yourself as unemployed, think more like you are an athlete who is doing off-season training. The job seeker who maintains a work-like schedule and mindset will interview better and have a much easier transition back into the workforce. Make sense? Good!

NOW GET TO WORK!

Job Search Central, Day 2

controlThe first thing that you want to make sure of is your pay situation in your new job. Of course, in this case that means unemployment insurance. If you qualify for UI make sure you know the process and contact info in your area. It varies state to state, and with the economy as it is the Unemployment offices are overwhelmed by claims. Make sure you have a couple hours dedicated to opening your claim on the phone, and a half a day + if you go to an office.

OK, now to set up Job Search Central:

Workspace:

Unless you live alone or nobody else is home during the day, try to establish a workspace that is private and quiet. Have your desktop organized and if this is a place you also do other work (paperwork, bill paying, etc.), make sure that is put away when you are in job search mode. Only paperwork relevant to job searching should be around, everything else is just going to be a distraction. If you prefer to print things out instead of keeping folders on your laptop, make sure you have some color coded manila folders for things like: job descriptions (one for ones you have applied to, ones for consideration), resumes, cover letters, references, etc.

Work Day

Figure out how many hours you are going to dedicate toward job searching and stick to that. Where it is taking a little longer to find jobs these days, I suggest a minimum of 4-6 hours. I also suggest that you do no more than 8 hours either. It will become too much of a drain and you may start to lose steam. While you are unemployed, take advantage of having a couple hours to catch up on reading or doing something fun during the day.

You also want to try to do your hourly work all at one time and minimize interruptions and breaks except for lunch. Set a firm start time and COMMIT to it! If you set 9 am, then you have until then to check email, Facebook, ESPN, etc. but after 9 those pages should leave your browser and not come back until your work day is done. (OK, you can look on you lunch break, but no more than 1 hour!)

Work Attire

OK, think me crazy but I believe if you take job searching seriously you need to feel like it is a regular job. Don’t work in what you rolled out of bed in. You dont need to put on a suit (unless that’s comfortable for you), and even jeans are OK. Just think if you were going to be going out in public and what you would wear that day.

Atmosphere

If you want to put on some soft music in the background, that’s cool. No headphones though, because you WILL need to be working the phones and headphones hamper phone activity. And absolutely NO television or computer games. If you IM with people a lot, try to minimize that activity unless necessary. You can put a status: “job searching from 9-12, available 12-1”

Next time, we will get into getting the tools you need for the job in shape, daily metrics, and making job boards and networking sites work for you!

Setting up “Job Search Central”

searchcentralYes folks, job searching is serious business and needs to be treated as a job itself. Today, I am going to talk about the basics to start setting up your “job search office.”

First you need to start with some administrative tasks and then move to the more specific searching tactics. When you first find out you have this new “job”, some of the actions you need to take:

  • Make sure you have agreed on severance and your pay/severance has been properly settled (commissions and some bonuses may be not be settled at time of separation)
  • Make sure you have the proper paperwork to go on COBRA if you choose to do so (it is cheaper than it used to be)
  • Analyze your 401(k) if you have one. Make sure you have the proper information to log on to access your account. See how it is performing and understand how long you can leave it in the employer’s account if it is performing well. If you want to remove it from you ex-company’s plan, Fidelity offers rollover IRA’s for 401(k)s so that you are not penalized for withdrawal
  • Notify any personal contacts who used your company email that you have left and not to send email to you there  because it will dump into a catch-all account and you don’t know who will view it
  • Contact your network (LinkedIN, etc.) to let them know you are no longer working there and to please keep their eyes open for positions that may suit you. If you don’t have a LinkedIn account, you are a little behind the game but you can catch up and obviously didn’t listen to my earlier post of social networking!
  • Review your resume and get it updated, spend some quality time on it so it reflects what you really want in your next job, I have many tips on this blog
  • Upload your updated resume to job boards. I recommend you should be on at least Monster and CareerBuilder. Technical folks need to be on Dice. Make sure all your contact information is current and your “years of experience” in your key areas of expertise are updated.

I know these things seem obvious but sometimes the stress and shock of being out of a job  can hinder your path to moving on to the job search.

Congratulations, you have got a lot done on your first day and that much closer to leaving this job! 🙂

OK, next post we will start to talk about the “game plan”.