I was revisiting some articles I wrote during the holidays last year and this one still resonates with me so I thought I would repost.
Yes, the holidays are upon us, recruiting activity has slowed, and you're not getting as many responses as you'd hoped. So, what do you do to keep yourself motivated in your job search and feel like you're still making progress? Two simple words: Networking and Planning!
NETWORKING: The holidays are a great time to network. You're already out at parties meeting new people and catching up with those you already know. That's a great opportunity to share your job search. Let people know what skills you offer and what kind of job you're looking for. Give them your business card (yes, you've had one made for your search, yes?) and offer to follow up with those who show interest. You just never know who might come across a need for someone just like you!
PLANNING: When you're not out networking, use your time constructively to plan your marketing campaign. I tell clients all the time that during their job search, they are project manager, salesperson, advertising manager, and marketing pro.
Here's how to develop your campaign:
1. Create an Excel spreadsheet
2. Label columns for: company, your contact, their position, phone number, email, any other names of contacts/referrals at company, date contacted, notes field, follow up date. Feel free to add any other columns for information you wish to track.
3. Start filling out the table with as many pieces of information as you can think. Don't worry about filling out every field. For some, you might only have a target company. For others, you may have a contact. Just complete what you can to get started.
4. Commit to working the list every day. Add a company, add a contact. Complete the fields left empty on your first pass. Research companies on LinkedIn or Glassdoor. Watch job postings, news reports, and journals.
5. Try to add onto the list each day. Use your LinkedIn profile to identify new contacts or new companies to reach out to.
Soon, the holidays will pass, January will be upon us, job postings will increase, and you'll be equipped and ready to kick start your job search with new energy and a much more targeted approach.
I see it so often with my clients. They've got talent, experience, and education, but they can't get a job. They get down on themselves, uncertain why after what felt like a stellar interview, they get a rejection notice, or worse yet, nothing at all. Most companies don't provide any feedback for you to learn from. You just try to fill in the gaps and figure it out on your own. There are many possible reasons for not getting the job, among them:
1. The job has been pulled.
2. They have an internal candidate.
3. You aren't the right fit they are looking for.
4. You interviewed poorly.
There isn't much you can do about the first two, but the final two are definitely areas you can improve upon. Let's look at each one.
You aren't the right fit for the job. There are a few things that could be happening right now and you need to look honestly at yourself, the company, and the position.
1. Are you getting a bit desperate and applying for jobs that you may be overqualified for? Companies are leery of this. They fear you're just trying to get your foot in the door, that they will invest in your training only to have you leave soon for a 'better' position.
2. Do your work values and style differ from that of the company? If you are a high energy, innovative person who needs a lot of autonomy, are you really going to fit in that buttoned-up organization with a strong top-down reporting culture? Take the time to list what's important to you and then target companies that complement those values.
3. Are you applying for jobs that you would like to have, but lack the necessary skills? It's nice to dream, but companies are looking to hire people who can hit the ground running and competition is stiff. While there are certainly skills they are willing to train you for, if you're looking for a business development job because it sounds fascinating, what experience, what wins, can you speak to that demonstrate your ability to get results? If you can't convince them you have the chops for the job (and experience is how you do that), you're fighting an uphill battle.
In the end, if you aren't the right fit for the position, either you'll feel it or the employer will, and you won't land that job.
Be honest with yourself and take a good hard look at your interviewing skills. Yes, we often leave an interview thinking we aced it and anticipate that offer before we've even arrived home. But, silence comes, followed by the "we've moved ahead with another candidate" letter. You're confused, frustrated and bewildered. How could it have felt so good to you and not so to them? In my experience, this is one of the most valuable services career coaches offer. A career coach can conduct a mock interview with you, asking you the kinds of questions you might expect in an interview. Following the interview, they sit with you, in a safe environment, and give you honest feedback on how things went from their perspective. Are your answers too long? Too short? Too vague? Do you have physical habits you're not aware of? Do you come across as confident? Overconfident? I've seen all of these and it's amazing how quickly we can turn around your interview experience with just one session of coaching.
So, be gentle but honest with yourself. Enlist the assistance of a family member, friend, colleague or professional career coach to help uncover anything you might be doing to sabotage your interview experience.
And finally, be patient. I've worked with hundreds of job seekers. They ALL land the job eventually. Maybe not on their time schedule, but they do. The right job is well worth the wait.
What tips do you have for job seekers?
It happens every year at the beginning of the holiday season. Clients start to ask, "Isn't the holiday season a bad time for job hunting? Shouldn't I just wait until January"? My answer is always the same; "No, keep looking". Here's why.
1. Since it's a common misconception that December is a bad time of year, many people stop looking. That reduces your competition!
2. Many companies are on a calendar year for budgets, meaning new positions have been budgeted for, and may be opening, early in the new year. That means they will be recruiting now.
3. Imagine how diligent you'll look continuing your search while most people take the month off.
4. Work is slower during the holidays and many people stay close to home, so hiring managers will be easier to reach for those all-important informational interviews.
5. It's a great time to network! You're going to be socializing anyway, so use the opportunity to spread the word about your job search and seek opportunities to connect, or reconnect, with others.
6. You'll keep your momentum up and running. Taking time off means you've got to ramp up all over again in January.
Keep it up, keep moving ahead, keep connecting. You'll stand out from the crowd and land a job sooner than the rest!
Do you ever start to feel stagnant in your professional pursuits? Losing momentum on something that was once a driving force in your career? It happens. We get so busy DOING our work, that we forget to feed our growth and development. Such was the case for me before last week.
I have been passionate about the WIAL (www.wial.org) method of action learning since being introduced to it during my masters program at George Washington University (www.gwu.edu). So much so, that I sought out certification as an action learning coach. I was subsequently appointed to the Executive Board of the World Institute for Action Learning, teaming with action learning professionals around the world to promote the practice of this powerful change agent, leadership development tool, and team building methodology. But, I lost momentum along the way. Over the past year, I've had little contact with my colleagues and at one point wondered if maintaining my certification made sense.
This past week, WIAL-USA sponsored the 10th Annual World Institute for Action Learning conference in Washington, D.C. I almost opted not to attend. But in the end, decided to attend. And what a wonderful decision it was! Not only did I reconnect with action learning colleagues from across the globe; from Singapore, Thailand, England and China, but I reconnected with the art of action learning itself. I was reminded by Rich Walsh from the Center for Creative Leadership of the power of action learning as an organizational change agent. Cliff Kaysar, from Polarity Partnerships, shared his insight on how Polarity Thinking and Action Learning combine to make a powerful tool, A panel of senior government professionals attested to the power of action learning in their studies at American University and how it has made a difference in their work.
Yes, it was a powerful reminder of the impact action learning can have on individuals, teams and organizations. It reminded me of why I became passionate about action learning years ago and the seemingly magical impact it can have. I came away from the conference ready to bring action learning to the forefront of my work. Curious now? Is your organization struggling with the same old recurring problem? Want to impact a culture change that sticks? Having team performance issues, or problems with employee engagement? Learn more about how action learning can have an impact on you, your team, your organization. I'll be happy to bring a free presentation and demonstration to your organization. Contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Andrea's passion is to see you achieve your professional dreams. Whether you are a corporate leader seeking leadership development for your employees or an individual seeking guidance in building your career or preparing for retirement, she will coach you to success.