So, you’re looking for a job and you don’t have a plan. This is really the first step in your job search. You need to start with a plan. You’ve heard the quote, “Plan your work and then work your plan.” Okay, so how do you get started? Here are 6 simple steps to help you get started – but prepare yourself because looking for a job is a full-time job:
1. Determine the Goal – Are you looking for a job, a career, or a calling? Are you staying in the same industry? In the same function? What are your values and interests in looking for your next role? Do you want to be leading teams? Do you want the ability to let your creative side come through in your work? Is it important for you to manage people? What are your motivated skills? Your key strengths? You need to have clearly defined career goals before conducting your job search. You need to understand how your skills and experience can serve another company. You need to be clear in your own mind what is the goal? This will help to build your self-awareness and your self-confidence.
2. Develop Your Power Stories – You need to have strong power stories for your resume, interviewing, networking, and any other methods of exposing yourself. So think about your accomplishments, and make sure you have quantifiable measured results. Here are some examples: “Doubled revenue” or “Increased market share by 5%” or “Increased speed to market by 15%.” If you think long and hard enough, you should be able to come up with at least a few examples of this for yourself. This may take time but its necessary and will pay off in the end. If you are just out of school, then think about results in your undergraduate program, graduate program, or internships. These are key in marketing yourself, so be sure to keep track of metrics in all of your future jobs if you haven’t been very good at this in the past. In terms of structuring these stories, always start with the result first, and then the action. In most instances you won’t include the “story” of how or what you did or the problem that prompted the action until you get into your interviews.
3. Develop Your Marketing Materials – You need to be prepared with materials to market yourself. These will come in the form of either physical material (marketing collateral) or simply verbal preparation. Here’s a list of some of the essentials: Personal Brand Statement (what makes you unique), 30 second commercial, 4-5 minute “Tell me about yourself,” business cards, professional/job search specific email, Linkedin profile, Facebook profile, resume, electronic resume (VisualCV.com), one-page networking bio, one-page recruiter bio, cover letter, and thank you notes. You may also want to develop a special report and/or proposals.
4. Determine Your Marketing Strategy – Now you should be ready to start exposing yourself. How do you plan to market yourself? What is your strategy to reach your potential new employer? You should be planning most of these and as such each one should have a clear strategy: Online/Social Media (Linkedin, Facebook, Twitter, Blogging, and VisualCV), Networking (online groups; Professional Associations; Executive Recruiter Networking Groups, past co-workers, friends), Direct Mail campaign (what will you send to your target companies), Informational interviews, and recruiters. Remember, around 80% of job opportunities are not publicly posted (for higher level positions), so you need to get your materials in front of your target – even if they’re not posting a job opportunity. Some companies don’t know that they need you, that is, until you prove it to them!
5. Develop Your Target Company List – So where do you want to work? Who do you want to target? Now that you know what industry and your geographic locations, think about the size of company. Are you more comfortable in a smaller, entrepreneurial company where you can wear many hats? Or do you prefer large, global organizations? You need to do your research and decide which companies you want to target. This is very important because you’ll want to have a list for your networking bio. This is just one way you will get contacts at your target companies. Go to your local library and ask the librarian for help. You can do most of the research from home once you know what you’re doing. You will use databases like Reference USA or OneSource to find companies in your target industries; ProQuest to search online journals and magazines for articles; Hoover’s, Mergent, or Yahoo Finance for financial information. You will want to research the industry, competitors and the company. Put the essential information on one page as a summary for easy reference. The goal is to have a target company list of at least 50 companies. Once you have your list prioritize the list into A, B, C, and practice companies. Start with your practice companies until you get more polished in your responses and your questions.
6. Develop Your Action Plan – Now you are somewhat prepared and practicing will get you ready for your target list. So get online and post your resume on all the job search sites including Monster, Career Builder, The Ladders (assuming you qualify), and a multitude of others. Start calling your network and let them know your conducting a job search. Ask for feedback on your resume and your 30 second commercial. This will give you plenty of opportunity to practice. Ask them if they have any contacts at your target companies. Get on Linkedin and connect to everyone you know and everyone you connect with while networking. Develop relationships with recruiters when you get referrals. Help recruiters with their needs and they will be more apt to help you. Developing relationships with people you meet networking will take time and effort but they are worth it. Keep up with your networks, even after you land. Help as many people as you can, in any way you can. It may not be the same people that help you but that’s okay. Set up daily searches on Indeed.com, usajobs.gov, as well as Monster and Career Builder. Search and read blogs online that help you with more specifics and different elements of your job search.
I hope these 6 steps will help to get you started and provide an overview of how to prepare. Continue reading this blog for more details on these steps and much more great information. Please add your thoughts on these steps or ask questions as needed. We want to interact with you and help in whatever way we can. Happy hunting!