I just completed a five month job search. I found that looking for a job today is very different from when I started my career 25 years ago. Through reflecting on my own experiences, talking with people in my professional network and working with a career coach, I came up with this process to get me from the job I had to a job that I love.
1. Took time to reflect. I spent time thinking about what I really wanted in my next job. This is so basic but really important. YOU need to know what you want. Otherwise, no one will be able to help you. I thought I had this one nailed, but for the first month of my search after people would ask what I was looking for and I gave my answer, almost universally I got the response, “Well, let me know when you have a better idea what you are looking for.” I spent more time defining what I wanted, and it was well worth the effort.
2. Wrote a pitch. I defined what I wanted in a short written “pitch.” This gave me a mental script for talking with people, text for posts on job seeker boards, content for emails to contacts, material for cover letters, and more.
3. Kept a log. I documented what I did for my search each day. I wrote down items to follow-up on, jobs applied for and the sources, and takeaways from conversations.
4. Tapped my network.I worked to build my professional connections on LinkedIn and then used the email function there to send messages about my job search. I created a “job search” category within my connections to track the people who I thought could help with my search. I only sent connections a few messages and only when I thought I had something concrete to ask for.I was not able to predict who would help, but many people did. I think the key is really giving your contacts something to grab onto. Ask them for something specific, such as passing along relevant job posts, endorsing your skills, or writing a recommendation. I found that many people were willing to help as long as I let them know specifically what to do.
5. Got out there. I joined several online and local networking groups and attended their events. (I saved costs in some cases by volunteering at the events.) I networked with fellow professionals as well as with people from industries where I hoped to work. I was active on all my social sites sharing professional news and information. I showed my ongoing investment in my profession.
6. Worked with a career coach. One of the big changes from my last job search was the proliferation of career coaches. I was not interested in online services that offered review my resume or provide canned interview tips. But, I decided that some one-on-one time with a coach could help me make sure that my job search efforts were in line with the expectations and needs of today’s hiring manager. This proved to be very helpful, validating some of my approaches and giving me new ideas.
Jill Kurtz is director of public relations for American Public University System. She has more than 25 years of experience in strategic communications and public relations. She holds the Accredited in Public Relations (APR) professional credential and earned a B.A. in Communication from the State University of New York at Buffalo.
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