Jumpstart Your Next Job Search in 3 Steps

Jumpstart Your Next Job Search in 3 Steps

Have you been laid off or fear you might be? Are you wanting to prepare yourself in the event of an economic downturn, including the one that experts say is likely coming in late 2019 or in 2020? Start now to limit the length of your unemployment, shorten your next job hunt, and realize the job search outcomes you want and need. This job search jumpstart works for job seekers at all steps of the career ladder, from entry-level workers to senior executives, and will guide you to roadmap the best possible job hunt for yourself.

Define Your Job Search Strategies

  • Define your target market. Before you can structure your job search you have to define what kinds of positions you will search for – the titles, levels of roles, industries, and types of companies you will pursue. At this stage you should also be defining your preferred geographic areas and commute ranges.
  • Clarify your search goals and timeline. When do you hope to land your new role? Is your expectation realistic and achievable? If you want to generate one or more job offers by a specific date it will be imperative to plan backward to ensure your search is generating enough contacts and opportunities to make that happen. Job searching is a bit like farming, in that you have to “plant” your career brand within a given window of time in order to produce a “harvest” of interviews and offers.
  • Determine if the market you’re targeting aligns with your goals and timeline. On average it takes 7 job interviews to produce one job offer and 200-300 targeted opportunities to generate those 7 interviews. This means that you need to have a minimum of 200-300 prospects to pursue in your search to be likely to catalyze interview invitations.
  • Choose and prioritize your job search methodologies. There are 5 primary job search methodologies to leverage in your search. Which of them best match your career goals, personality, target industries, and available search time?
    • Networking has long been the #1 way to find and land new jobs at all levels of hiring spectrum ~ it produces interviews about 85% of the time when employed in the right way. Leveraging this tactic fully means having a networking strategy that you implement methodically throughout your search. This is different than simply sending out random emails to people you know who you think may know about open jobs.
    • Direct outreach to targeted employers is an often-overlooked search methodology, yet it’s an excellent way to penetrate the Hidden Job Market (the 85% of jobs that are never advertised outside the hiring companies). By combining strategic networking and LinkedIn tactics you can find and get your foot in the door with companies in almost any industry in almost any location.
    • LinkedIn-driven networking can supercharge your entire search. Once your profile is optimized and complete, craft a strategy for how to utilize LinkedIn to penetrate target organizations, gain influential contacts in key industries, and attract the attention of executive recruiters.
    • External recruiting firms are an option for some job seekers and enable them to access open positions in the Visible Job Market (available jobs advertised outside the company). You’ll need a strategy to get your candidacy noticed and to determine if you should target retained or contingency recruiters.
    • Online job boards rely on the advertising of openings in the Visible Job Market. Sites like Indeed.com, SimplyHired.com, and the LinkedIn.com job board (which is actually SimplyHired.com) collect and enable you to search open positions in one or more industries. While job boards appear seductively simple, note that you have maximum competition as you apply for open positions. Also note that when you do so your resume is parsed and analyzed by an Applicant Tracking System, which means that key word usage and age-proofing quickly become critical issues. These are some of the reasons that this job search strategy only produces interviews about 15% to 20% of the time.
  • Map your chosen methodologies to your available search time without disrupting your life balance. Once your plan is in place it is imperative to map it to your schedule. Most of us are so busy that the least addition to our to do list will throw our life balance out of whack. The problem is that job seekers need that balance to help them sustain wellness, focus, and interview-readiness throughout a search that can last for months or even longer. If you plan to add a job hunt to your list of to-dos, you may need to first identify pockets of available time or activities you can temporarily suspend in order to make time for your search.

Build Your Career Communications Portfolio

  • Select your career communications tools based on your job search strategy. Once your job search methodologies are clarified, you’re ready to choose the career communications tools you will need. A new resume (why a resume isn’t an effective networking tool) and LinkedIn profile are practically must-haves, but you may also need a bio or marketing brief for networking, one or more cover letters, or supplementary tools such as an interview PowerPoint presentation or case study.
  • Define your career brand. In today’s tight global economy your career brand is more important than ever before. Detail yours and share it appropriately in each career communications tool you use in your search. Make sure you adapt your brand for usage in each tool in different ways ~ the goal is to highlight your brand in different language, so you emphasize it without repeating it ad nauseum.
  • Delineate and quantify your career achievements. Achievements are a necessity in resumes; without them your document is incomplete. Remember that achievements are best highlighted in specific ways that detail the situation or problem you faced, the actions you took to resolve the situation, and the quantifiable results you achieved in doing so. Link your accomplishments to the specific jobs in which you achieved them and include the highest number of them for your current or most recent role.
  • Determine which keywords to infuse in your career communications tools. Keywords vary from industry to industry and role to role. As a result, you must tailor your resume for each new position you pursue with relevant keywords. Additionally, your LinkedIn profile must be infused with keywords. Keep in mind, though, that you can have too few or too many keywords and that you can use keywords in the wrong density, document locations, or formats.
  • Choose visual branding in alignment with your target market and career goals. Your personal brand can and should be conveyed in your career communications tools in words, but don’t overlook visual elements as well. Visual branding refers to the use of color, formatting, and images, graphics, charts, or graphs in your resume that makes it unique.

Implement Your Job Search Strategy

  • Create a weekly job search implementation plan with metrics. An effective job search plan needs clear metrics to help drive week-over-week achievement.  If you’re approaching the 200-300 targets suggested above, consider breaking that total down into weekly sub-goals that will allow you to exhaust your list in 2 to 4 months.
  • Craft a weekly LinkedIn action plan with metrics. May I suggest doing the same thing with LinkedIn? It’s easy to overlook such features as company targeting, group discussion posts, and status updates, but each of these options can help supercharge your search when leveraged fully and consistently. Set specific goals and measure them weekly to help you incorporate LinkedIn best practices into your job hunt.
  • Analyze your job search implementation monthly and revamp as needed. By setting metrics to pursue in your search you can evaluate how it’s unfolding. Without metrics you won’t know how to analyze your progress or identify aspects of your search that need improvement. Check in on the health of your job hunt at least once a month. Are you achieving your metrics? If not, why not? Have you noticed any areas at which you consistently under-perform? If so, what can you change? Are you doing everything that experts say you should do, but your search still isn’t working? If so, get help.

Perhaps most importantly, a job search plan such as this one helps you to ensure you’re doing the right things in the right ways at the right times.

With which of the above strategies and action steps do you possess the most experience? The least? About which steps do you need more information or help? How do you plan to get the help you need?

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About Cheryl Lynch Simpson

Cheryl is a Career, Job Search & LinkedIn Coach and Master Resume Writer. She has helped clients in >35 industries on 6 continents and has earned 24 global resume writing nominations and awards.

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