Reinvigorating Your Job Search!

posted by Dilip on August 25, 2019

As kids start getting back to school around this time of the year, it is also time for their parents to shift gears and start their job search in earnest.

Why is that?

Monday after the Labor Day officially heralds as the ideal time to get back into the job market—working or jobless—since this is the best time of the year to create many options around your next career move; this opening typically lasts until the onset of the Holiday season. This time window is not just limited to those in the US, but also to those in Europe, where it marks the official end of long summer vacations and an onset of a quiescent period where companies and their employees are back at work in earnest and are settling down to close the year, before the Christmas and Holiday season starts in many parts of the world, as the beginning of active Job-Search Season. 

In just about a week from now, everyone comes back sunburnt from their summer vacation in the US or a holiday month in other countries, dusts off their résumé and thinks that they have procrastinated long enough to make a job or a career change. Despite the looming signs of an economic recession and an economic downturn, there are still 6.6M open jobs in the US alone. Indeed.com, a job board and a job aggregator, reports that just in the last week of August it has added nearly 750,000 new jobs to their site. This does not mean that there should be no unemployment based on these statistics; it signals that there is a dearth of talent to fill the right jobs.

Also, with the new “gig economy,” there are jobs to be had that are not posted. So, if you can figure out what your gig is, then you can find a way to get employed on your terms in this new paradigm of the job market. Examples of this job market include signing up with the likes of H&R Block, or with Intuit TurboTax (if you are a CPA or an Enrolled Agent); getting on the list as Uber driver or as delivery provider. Also, if you have some high-end talent in any field you can sign-up with www.toptal.com  and make yourself one of the expertise providers. Many gigs are available through www.skillshare.com and www.upwork.com, among others.

Coming back to the traditional job market that really heats up after the first week of September there are some things you can do to increase your odds of landing the right job and landing it without too much hassle, rejections, and surprises. Here are some of my suggestions how you can do that:

  1. Take an inventory of your skills and accomplishments in the most recent few years and throughout your career and figure out how to package that information into a compelling selling position. Most people write their résumé transactionally, writing a series of bullets that merely read like a job description written in the past tense. So, if a typical job description for a program manager lists a skill as, Must manage multiple projects concurrently, their résumé bullet will correspondingly read, Managed multiple projects concurrently. Such an approach shows complete lack of imagination and a banal way to package your résumé.

    Instead, if you replaced that same bullet with, Took charge of a portfolio of projects, when the incumbent program manager suddenly left without proper status reports and many projects behind schedule, brought all five projects up-to-date in just three weeks, mobilizing the teams (of 35) to deliver each on its scheduled release date, delighting worried customers, it has a different impact.
  2. Making your résumé coherent throughout its chronology is yet another aspect of how you can improve the appeal of your message, especially if you have worked in different jobs and careers. Although such an approach requires a special ability to thread through the different stints and jobs and extracting from them a common thread of skills and achievements that align with the targeted job the new résumé is intended to address. Most résumé writers do not know how to do this well; they merely list your stints in a presentable way without extracting these common themes to make you a more compelling candidate.
  3. Getting your LinkedIn Profile ready alongside your résumé is also equally important. Your résumé and your LinkedIn Profile each serves a different purpose with some common themes. They both are your way to showing the job market and hiring managers what you bring to address their needs, but the résumé acts the “push” message, and the LinkedIn Profile as its “Pull” counterpart. You send your résumé in response to an open job; your LinkedIn Profile provides a search capability to employers to seek you out when there is a match between their opening and your message. Using LinkedIn’s own scoring system seek to achieve a near perfect score on how your final Profile is rated by LinkedIn’s scoring system. Equally important here is the quality and size of your network.
  4. When making a job change take a look at your career momentum and decide how you want to pitch your message to land your next job at least one notch above where you are now. If you do not have that momentum, find some strategies in your current role to develop that momentum before you go looking for outside jobs.
  5. Do not just focus on a bigger paycheck or a higher title in your next job. Take a closer look at how your career is shaping in light of the emerging job trends and see what you need to do in your current and next jobs to make yourself better equipped to deal with emerging jobs. If you do not consciously do this, you can become a dinosaur quickly and may have to retire early. This recent HBR article may be worth reading and acting on.
  6. Once your campaign starts getting responses merely studying your target company and knowing its challenges in your area of work is not enough. You must work on getting your story crisp and compelling by practicing mock interviews working with someone who can guide you to show how to present yourself better. Most people fumble at the first and most basic question asked in any interview: Tell me about yourself. Here the worst response is to provide your historical summary of your career going back to your first job. The interviewer already has that in front of them in the form of your résumé.
  7. Think of creative ways to get employers’ attention by targeting the right companies, researching their affairs, and then writing them a letter with the well-researched point-of-view letter sent to someone in the top of your chain of command. Such a letter sent strategically has resulted in some unusually juicy opportunities for my clients that did not even exist before at these companies.
  8. Make the best use of your current LinkedIn network to get you in front of the hiring managers and decision makers. Going through the Applicant Tracking System (ATS) by merely applying online is so humdrum.    
  9. The best way to manage your campaign is to orchestrate all your job targets and line them up in such a way that multiple job offers come your way in a short period of time and then taking the time to analyze the best one to take and negotiate what you want in terms of salary package, responsibilities, and terms. To most people this is one of the hardest things to manage and they end up taking the first job that is offered. Once again, read the HRB article in #5.
  10. After landing your new job managing your career arc starts with developing your plan for the first 100-Days. This sets the tone of your first year in your new job and positions you for managing your career for an optimal outcome.

Looking for a new job or career requires a change that many are not prepared to deal with because of a variety of reasons. But unless you make a plan and prepare to make the change nothing will change for you no matter how unhappy or frustrated you are in your current state.

Good luck!

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