DEFINE YOUR SEARCH STRATEGY
Your job search strategy is the foundation for reducing the time frame of your job search, but it’s the most neglected activity by nearly every job seeker I encounter. Most job searchers I encounter start by updating the resume – which is the WORST thing you can do if you’re starting your job search. Without a solid strategy in place at the very beginning of your search, I guarantee that you will find yourself in a drawn-out search where you are reacting to your search by applying to the limited kinds of opportunities you find on job boards, instead of proactively unlocking the perfect opportunities for you in the hidden job market (more on this later). Sure you might land a job opening to fill the immediate need of a new job, but you will not own your future. Without a solid job search strategy, you will compromise on the items that lead to personal fulfillment.
A robust job search strategy requires:
- Creating your search roadmap
- Setting (and sticking to) your career and life priorities
- Identifying your non-negotiables so that you are always conducting your job search in the realm of reality and not the unrealistic “what-ifs” and potential scenarios
One of the main benefits of defining your strategy will be sorting through all of the information and never-ending list of questions crowding your mental space.
If you are struggling to make sense of all the questions on your mind or determine what to do next based on a variety of potential career directions – you need Job Search Jumpstarter Coaching to help you start from the beginning and define your strategy.
Once you have defined your search strategy, you will need to achieve total clarity around your job target(s) so that you know what you are seeking in professional fulfillment (and what you are NOT seeking). If you are applying for jobs, networking, or interviewing without communicating a clear target, chances are you are appearing unfocused and too open to “any opportunity.” Hiring managers and networking contacts are not able to help you if you are not communicating target clarity because the message you are communicating is, “I’ll take any job” instead of what they need to hear, “I would like x job with x company.”
When you communicate clearly around your target, you will start to uncover more opportunities than you ever thought possible. You will also be perceived as someone who is decisive and confident in achieving your career goals. This confidence will be well-received by those in a position to hire you because they will feel you are in it for the long haul and not a risky hire.
Having target clarity will help you to stay on track as you start searching for the best job opportunities in the market. It will also ensure that you do not become distracted and veer off track by applying for the wrong opportunities. It can be very tempting to default to what’s listed on job boards and react by applying to any job that looks like a fit. However, this will be a big time waster and not lead you to your ultimate career fulfillment.
To achieve clarity in your search you must:
- Have self-awareness about your strengths, weaknesses, likes, dislikes, personality type, etc.
- Conduct market research so that you may approach your job search based on the reality of the job market for someone like you
- Set your target or targets based on a variety of factors such as job title, industry, and company type
If you are struggling to narrow down your job targets based on your strengths and personality type, Clarity Coaching may be the best starting point for you. You would work with a certified assessment expert to use StrengthsFinder & MBTI Assessments to become more self-aware.
If you are clear on your strengths, but struggling to get focused on the next move, you may need expert support through Job Search Jumpstarter Coaching to get (and stay) laser focused on your target. For more advanced ob seekers who are familiar with the job search and have established clean branding, I recommend Job Search Accelerator Coaching.
BUILD YOUR BRAND
After (and only after) you are clear on your target and direction, you must build your brand. An effective professional brand will create your first impression and have an immediate impact on whether or not you appear to be a fit for your career or job target. Branding happens, online, offline, on paper, and in-person and it’s up to YOU to communicate your brand in the most impactful way at all times.
Your brand is critical for communicating who you are and what you can do in a way that speaks to those in a position to hire you or introduce you to hiring managers. Using a combination of skills, strengths, industry, department, and job title keywords, your brand, and branding statements have the power to attract your target hiring managers and recruiters.
To create the most impactful brand, branding statements, and branding materials you must:
- Conduct careful analysis of your target and identify impactful branding pieces
- Generate your strongest keywords and brand descriptors
- Create an elevator pitch as a concise quick pitch for your brand
- Develop your elevator pitch into a compelling story by which you can communicate your brand effectively while also tying in your entire career story (and strategically support your career path choices)
- Optimize your Linkedin profile to illustrate your brand online
- Create a strategic Networking Brief (especially important for career changers) so that you can help your network immediately understand your brand AND the types of opportunities/contacts you are targeting
Spending time on one’s brand is critical to creating an accelerated job search but it is often a piece that is neglected – thus dragging out the job search. Taking the time to create the perfect branding materials will help you in the short term to organize your thoughts and feel comfortable communicating about you, with ease.
Creating a strong professional brand will also help you communicate more effectively and confidently once you get to the interview stage. Finally, it will help others know exactly who you are and what you are looking for next. So it’s a pretty important part of every job search!
If professional branding and communicating confidently about you are not your strong points, you need Job Search Jumpstarter Coaching.
If you struggle to write about your brand, you may need a professional writer to craft your brand on paper and online. Our Linkedin Makeover and Resume Writing services are what you need.
ORGANIZE YOUR SEARCH
After you establish your professional brand you’re almost ready to start searching for jobs. Before you start searching, I recommend organizing your job search so that you can stay on track and avoid distractions or discouragement. Without simple organization and planning, you run the risk of losing valuable motivation and getting stuck in your job search. This is a place where many job searchers decide to reach out for career coaching support. It takes a lot of discipline to commit to the job search. It also takes a lot of motivation (and let’s face it – the job search is not exactly the most exciting way to spend your time). Most job searchers jump right into the online job boards and applying for jobs but this is not considered an organization strategy.
A well-organized job search includes:
- A schedule of weekly job search activities that includes networking, recruiter outreach, application preparation, branding tweaks, and submitting applications. You’ll also want to include activities I refer to as “hope-boosters” so as to keep your positivity levels up!
- Accountability and the ability to stick to your schedule and execute the most important job search activities
- A system for tracking your progress and activities so that you don’t lose track of valuable leads, application status or follow up timelines
If you have lost steam in your job search or find that your “strategy” consists of looking for jobs on job boards, submitting applications, and waiting for responses – you are in need of serious organization help! The Job Search Jumpstarter Coaching program was designed for you. The Job Search Jumpstarter Coaching program is also good for people feeling “stuck” in the job search as well as for people feeling like they are losing confidence and hope. The key to successfully finding and landing a job comes down to accountability and sticking with it during the tough times (which is most of the job search). Having a career coach to partner with can be great for the accountability but also for re-installing any lack of confidence due to application rejections or losing steam in the search. The Job Search Accelerator Coaching program is also a great program that helps address search organization for clients who have already received resume and branding optimization support.
SEARCH ONLINE & OFFLINE
Now that your search is organized you’re ready for the actual search (YAY)! Since the online job search can lead to a quick drop in motivation and energy, I recommend employing a number of different job search tactics.
For a ridiculously effective online job search:
- Linkedin is GREAT for the job search and is my number one favorite tool for everything job search and career-related! You’ll want to use Linkedin in a variety of ways – career path research, identifying opportunities, identifying and engaging strategic contacts to name a few. If you’re lacking in Linkedin know-how, you’ll want to get Linkedin coaching help ASAP
- I also have my favorite online job boards. My favorite job boards provide the most thorough listing of jobs on the web so that you can spend less time trolling hundreds of boards, and more time using a variety of tools in the effective job seeker’s toolkit!
To really ramp up your job search and uncover the hidden job market:
- One of the most important (and most effective) tools in the job search is in-person networking. Even though technology continues to evolve, there will never be a substitute for personal connections because people hire people they like, therefore, networking should be your #1 job search activity! Informational Interviewing is a great way to spend your time in the job search.
- Recruiter outreach is another critical networking activity. Love ‘em or not, recruiters are the gatekeepers for many jobs and they are people who can help you if approached in the right way. Fortunately, I understand how to work with recruiters from my background in Executive Recruiting. You’ll want to access my Recruiter outreach module for all sorts of helpful goodies to teach you how to navigate recruiter networking.
WRITE THE PERFECT RESUME
Once you’ve started searching and collecting your market research, you’re ready to write the perfect resume. You may be wondering why I wait so late in the game to focus on the resume. The resume can be one of those job search black holes that people tend to write, re-write, tweak, etc. as a reaction to rejection emails or non-response from applications. This only leads to a dead-end of writing and rewriting, creating a HUGE time-waster for your job search. You want to focus on perfecting your resume ONCE and then doing minor resume tailoring for each job application. You also want to use the insights gathered from your online and offline searching to drive your resume branding. Only after you’ve reviewed job descriptions, talked with strategic networking contacts and analyzed the market for your target job, are you ready to write your resume.
Resume writing must include:
- Understanding resume writing best practices
- Creating a master resume so you are able to quickly tailor and grab the most relevant information for each application
- Creating your working resume using a fully formatted resume template. You’ll need something modern and on trend with the latest and greatest in resume writing
- Keyword optimization so you can make it past the 6-second eye-scan and ATS scan
- ATS Optimization so that you can make it past the online application black holes (70% of companies use ATS’s to screen out job candidates so you DEFINITELY need to be ATS optimized)
Resume writing is a skill that most people haven’t mastered. Creating the perfect resume has become even more challenging with the latest in ATS technology designed to scan, parse information and screen out the non-optimized resume. That’s why we recommend at least once in your career, employing the help of professional resume services. Most professionals will have multiple jobs throughout their careers and investing in a one-time Resume Makeover can help you build upon your resume with ease for every career move to come. If you know you need a total branding boost, I would recommend our most popular branding service The Works (which kills 3 birds with one stone and a bundle discount).
Our resume services incorporate best practices, trends, keyword strategy, ATS optimization, AND recruiter/hiring manager strategy. Our resume services are also designed with your future benefit in mind. Your writer will empower you by teaching you how to tailor your resume and make resume updates for years to come.
SUBMIT ONLINE APPLICATIONS
After your resume is finalized, comes the easy part – applying! The best-case scenario for submitting a job application is through a networking contact. However, there are times where you will not have a contact to help you get a foot in the door. The online application process consists of:
Resume tailoring or creating a UNIQUE resume for every job application. You want to show potential employers that you have the most relevant work experience compared to the hundreds of other applicants competing for the same job.
In order to submit a perfectly tailored resume, you’ll need to understand the hiring manager’s mindset. Careful analysis should be conducted.
Most online applications will also request a Cover Letter. Just like your resume, the cover letter requires ATS optimization. It also requires tailoring and keyword strategy. Check out our cover letter templates and how to guides for guidance or hire a professional resume writer to write your cover letter.
ACE YOUR INTERVIEW
If you’ve followed all of the steps above, you’re probably well on your way to landing job interviews. Landing interviews are proof that your resume is working! The end goal of the interview is to receive a job offer. It’s important to be as prepared as possible for every interview.
Here are several interview tips you can use to prepare and maximize your chances of landing a job offer:
- Follow a preparation checklist so that you leave nothing to chance during your interview. You can access my checklist here.
- Prepare answers for all of the questions you may receive. This includes standard interview questions as well as behavioral interview questions.
- Practice, Practice Practice! Part of walking into an interview feeling confident is knowing how to answer anything the job interviewer throws your way. Practice is the only way to increase your confidence and comfort level. Also, make sure to be conscious of your body language and your tone and voice volume
- Prepare an interview presentation to stand out from the crowd and take control of the conversation
- Be sure to follow-up using best practices (send a personalized thank you note/email to everyone you met with).
- Prepare some negotiation basics in order to increase your chances of increasing your initial offer.
If you are interviewing but not landing offers, you may need additional support. Working with an Interview Coach may help to pinpoint red flags in your interview process and correct them. Interview Coaching is also a great way to ensure you are as prepared and as confident as possible.