Friday, May 8, 2009

Tip 3: Top 3 Things to Know in Your Job Search

I was recently asked what I consider to be the ONE most important thing to know about looking for a job today. The truth be known, if I had to boil all I share in my coaching practice to the point(s) all job seekers need to know and most don't, I would have to say there is not one, there are three. If job seekers accept and actually follow these three points, they will find that next job.

1) There is no shame in being unemployed. In my grandfather's day, if you didn't have a job it was because you were a bum; you were not even looking. Baby boomers grew up expecting to work for a company and retire with them just as their parents did. The truth of today's market is that the day of the gold watch retirement does not exist anymore. The world has changed, those days are over, and we didn't even get a vote. Today workers will change jobs 19+ times in their lives and change careers 4 times. Your next job won't be your last. Knowing that, there is no shame in being in a job transition, it won't be the last time you are, so get rid of any shame you are feeling and learn how to conduct a productive search. Now is a good time for that.

2) You have to know YOU to sell you. As stated in the last tip, you are now a salesperson and you are selling a product - your skills, experience, and abilities. Too many job seekers do not know their competitive advantage i.e. why an employer should hire you over your competition. If you don't know the answer to that neither does a prospective employer and they will hire the person who does know what he / she has to offer. If you updated your resume before taking a thorough inventory of your abilities, skills, accomplishments, personality and more, your resume and your interview answers are probably not representing your competitive strengths.

3) Network! I am willing to bet (and I'm a chicken gambler) that most job seekers who are not getting results are not networking or are not networking correctly. Many job seekers, way too many, are frozen behind a computer screen and applying to the posted ads on company and web on boards. They do not realize that only 15% of the available jobs are posted. They are also just one of thousands of job seekers who have applied to each position. Companies have different ways to filter through the tons of resumes and many of these methods are purely arbitrary even as random as taking the first 100 resumes and throwing the rest away. Only 10% of all job seekers are successful getting a job by applying to the web and they were only applying to 15% of the available jobs. It is through networking that 75% of job seekers get a job and it is through networking that you will find the 85% of the hidden job market.

When you network, you also have to do it correctly. It does not work like osmosis; your presence at an event is not enough. You have to actively meet people. At a recent networking event, I noticed a lady was sitting by herself at a table while the rest of the participants were up and talking to others. I thought she might be an introvert so I introduced myself. During the conversation she explained to me that she is unemployed. I shared with her that networking is a great way to get the lead that results in that next job and mentioned that some people are not comfortable talking to strangers especially introverts. She replied that, although her husband is an introvert and dislikes networking, she actually enjoys it. Interesting! Don’t confuse real networking with people watching or settling for meeting the two people sitting next to you. You need to be intentional about reaching out to others.

Back in 2002 when I was on the job market, I had to learn to network. For an introvert like me it was not a comfortable proposition. Through some research I found a book on how to work a room like a salesperson. One idea that worked for me is to assign myself a task such as meet everyone wearing red, or blue.

At one meeting that was where the men outnumbered the women, I chose to meet all of the other women. After summoning up my courage, I approached the first woman, explained what I was doing, introduced myself, and asked her name. After talking for a while, she asked me if she could accompany me to meet the next lady; she too was uneasy with meeting strangers. You can probably imagine what happened; we ended up with all of the women on one side of the room. Whether it is meeting people of the same gender, or introducing yourself to people wearing a certain color, give yourself a goal and work toward it.

Networking also means finding out how you can help the other person and following through with it if possible. Networking is not all about you. Some people refer to this mutual business relationship as net-weaving.

So if I had to summarize the key principles of finding a job in this market, it would have to be these.

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