A job search or career change can be daunting, even in good times. In leaner times, it may seem downright impossible. It’s tempting to resign yourself to holding on, to scale back on your aspirations. You think no one’s hiring.
Although you don’t want to jeopardize yourself or your family’s future, it’s a mistake to do nothing. Read through the points below. Which are you doing? Confident about? Which need more attention?
- Remember that even in a tough economy, hiring decision-makers are always on the lookout for talent. Employees quit, retire, or get fired. They get promoted, transferred, or leave for other reasons. Their departures create opportunities for others.
- Before you begin your search, get clear about your strengths. Make sure you’re able to communicate them powerfully in speaking and writing. If you can’t describe your career objective and strengths in a compelling and concise way to yourself and others, your search will yield frustration and poor results.
- Systematically investigate the options you are considering. Reading is OK. Even better, arrange for purposeful conversations with people in the know. The information you gather will be more detailed, accurate, timely, and customized.
- After you’re you’ve defined your target industries and/ or functions, conduct an active, person-centered market campaign.
- The most effective way to land a good job—a career position—is by penetrating the unpublished market. It is possible to do this while preserving your dignity and respecting others. No need to be a beggar. Learn this active, strategic approach.
- Hiring decisions are based not just on experience, but also on talent, fit, and “chemistry.” These intangibles are more difficult to detect through the standard passive, resume-based, look-for-openings-search of the published market. Know your key intangible assets. Communicate them clearly—ideally, in person.
- Know how to handle salary negotiations at the appropriate time.
- Enlist help, especially for areas that you fear or that you’re not confident about. A job search in good times is challenging. In tougher times it may take longer and erode your confidence. Work with a buddy, coach, or group. They will help you learn and stay active in your search, even through discouragement.
- Check into your eligibility for unemployment benefits, severance pay, outplacement services, or early retirement options.
- Have a “Plan B.” Figure out what you’ll do if your search takes longer than expected. Consider temporary, contract, part-time, less-preferred or a “survival” job.
- Send thank you notes to everyone who is helpful to you. Expressing appreciation is good for you, the writer, and it builds goodwill with the people you thank. When you’ve landed your new job, let them know and thank them again. It’s part of the cycle of tending to your network.
- Develop and use a job log and career portfolio. These materials provide evidence of your skills and contributions. Keep it up-to-date and handy.
- Nurture and expand your professional and personal relationships, even when you’re happily employed. This is a learnable skill—even for introverts.
It’s easy to get discouraged about a job search or career change when you’re barraged by news about layoffs, mergers, and downsizing. It’s understandable that you’d think, “Why even try? I’d better stick with what I have.” All the more reason to proceed carefully and methodically. No need to give up your search.
It IS important to have a strategy, to know and use resources (print, technical, people, time, and money) thoughtfully, and to persist through the difficult times. The rewards of a successful search are worth it!
Thanks to the following people for referrals:
Rosalyn Young, Patrick Openlander, and Nathan Verrill.
- Colleen Klaus on her new job as a Project Associate for the Employment Training Center at St. Louis Community College.
- Melinda Sanderson on landing her new job as Data Analyst, Patient Relations at St. John’s Mercy Medical Center.
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