Trying to make any kind of career shift can be incredibly frustrating, and through my current search I’ve found there are some dirty little secrets most people just don’t talk about when it comes to job hunting. Here are 7 unconventional, and helpful, things I’ve learned:
1. Everything is your resume (& other resume thoughts)
Your website, your emails, your email signatures, your business cards, your blog, your social media profiles… make them all consistent and flattering. You never know who might be looking at what. (Of course, taking full advantage of social media channels is an “understood” part of this tip.)
About “real” resumes, my biggest finding is this: don’t spend too much time sending resumes. Do you need an amazing two-page resume? Yes, to play the game (see #7), but that is really its only purpose. More than likely it will be a connection (see #6) that will actually catalyze the movement to get you an interview. But you will need a great resume to get there.
2. Have a target = “know thyself”
Know your strengths and know what you want. Have an elevator speech prepared to answer the question, “What do you want to do?” because you will get it. A lot. How can you hit a target if you don’t know what you’re aiming for?
How to do this? First, there’s a huge amount of information on the idea of personal branding online to research (download the two best articles I’ve ever read on personal branding here). Second, I’ve written extensively about strengths, and you can see my “elevator homepage” here.
3. Make it easy for people to help you
When emailing your “inside connections,” always include your latest resume so they don’t have to go digging for it. Also, develop a list of 3 target industries (and then a few company examples within those) for where you’d like to land. Counterintuitive as it sounds, making your desires more specific is what makes it easier for people to think of connections.
4. Set up search agents
Most large companies have web systems in place to create a profile and to search their open positions. Many of these also allow you to set up a “search agent” which will automatically email you new openings that fit your exact criteria as soon as they are posted. Love it.
5. Approach it all from a consulting perspective
Consultants come from the position of helping the company, which is the exact right perspective to have when trying to land a job. Hiring managers want to know what you can do to help them. To this end, ask the recruiter “What are the 3 key things you are looking for in this position?” so you can strategically tailor your interview prep.
The other benefit of this mentality is that consultants (ideally) take the jobs/projects they want — this is a tremendously helpful frame of mind to maintain through the grueling self-esteem “beatdown” that can accompany a job search. We’ve all heard it, but remember, try to interview them as much as they are you.
6. Say yes!
Meet with everyone, make new friends, join professional organizations, expand your circle and be a part of new groups. Search meetup.com for affiliations that make sense for you. Be nice to everyone, say thank you — A LOT — and always offer to help them. Don’t ask for a job, just be friendly, helpful, and ready to tell a very positive version of your story when asked.
7. Be ready to play the game
Whether you like it or not, getting a job at most companies is a complete game. You have to know the rules — and yes, some of them are outdated, nonsensical, or completely ridiculous — and you have to be willing to play by them.
My thoughts? Just make a note of what was most annoying to you… once you’re on the inside maybe you can help make it better, adding value to your new company!
What would you like to see changed about the way companies find, recruit, and hire people?
Any other tips you’ve come across that I missed?
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