So… I write all this stuff about effective job search techniques, and I get some wonderful feedback from people about how they like what I’ve written, how they appreciate the help, and other kudos… but do these things really work???
It’s fine to throw out a bunch of ideas and advice, but do you have any idea of what it’s actually like down in the trenches of looking for a new job?
There’s all kinds of advice available out there, but much of it feels academic and not applicable in the “real” world. How does it work where the rubber hits the road?
I had a cup of coffee today with someone I appreciate that also writes a blog on job search… Mark Richards who writes Candidate’s Chair. Mark is not a job search expert because he’s been a recruiter, or career coach, or has had some other directly applicable career. He writes from the perspective of a job seeker himself, and relating what’s worked and what hasn’t in his own search (he’s a very successful and highly skilled CFO, by the way, so if you have any leads for him, be sure to let him know). His blog resonates with many people because he relates the same struggles many others face as well.
I believe, and hope, that my blog posts have resonated with people for the same reason. Although I am a recruiter, giving me a unique insight into job search tactics, I believe the reason my advice is practical and real, is that I’ve “been there and done that” myself, and have the shirt to prove it!
As a recruiter, my primary responsibility is really in sales. I have to contact companies, and sell them on the idea that using a recruiter to fill a position is worth their while, and using me in particular is their best bet. Even though making sales calls is part of my daily routine, it’s very different when I have to “sell” myself in a job search. The “product” becomes very personal and rejection is much more personal as well. Although I’ve been self-employed for the last several years, I’ve had to look for a new job multiple times in my career… usually during a recession! It’s given me a good understanding of what it feels like on the other side of the interview table.
Also, I lead 8-week small group classes on an effective job search. Each week the participants share what they did the previous week, what worked, what didn’t, what reactions they got, what successes they’ve had, and what failures they’ve had. We learn what we can, and talk about the emotional fallout from the failures.
In my recruiting practice, I talk to my clients… Managers, Directors, VP’s, and C-level executives about why they chose one candidate over another. What got their attention from various applicants, and what turned them off. I talk to candidates I deal with about their job searches. Asking what they’ve been doing, what’s been working for them and what hasn’t.
From my own job searches, I recall what I did, what worked, what I felt, and what frustrations I faced.
In two of my job searches, I moved to a new city without a job waiting for me. I needed to find something quickly and knew I needed motivation to kick myself out of bed each day to do everything I could to reach my goal. In my case, I intentionally created negative motivation. I went to temp agencies, and found 2nd shift positions in machine shops. I took positions that were simply menial, manual labor jobs… that I HATED! That was the motivation. I had my days free to do whatever I needed to do to find a new job that I wanted, and worked as hard as I could so that I could quit those night jobs as soon as possible! Every morning I woke up, and got out of bed to start making phone calls because I didn’t want to have to go back to the machine shop again each night. That worked for me! Find what works for you.
I found that searching through ads and sending in resumes was not enough. I got results through talking to real people at companies I wanted to work for. I found that waiting for calls back from people took too long. I creatively found ways to become pleasantly persistent. I found that “winging it” in my conversations, networking meetings, and interviews was not very productive. I prepared myself with agendas, with scripts, and with practice in order to present myself better and more professionally than anyone else I might be competing with.
When I write about the importance of networking, persistence, and preparation, it’s not based on “book” information, it’s based on what I’ve observed from my class participants, from my recruiting activities, and from my own experience.
Yes… this stuff works! I know, because “I’ve been there and done that!” Hopefully, as you apply the ideas, you’ll find they work for you too.