If you’re like me, you appreciate a clean slate, a fresh start and a new list of goals for the New Year (notice, I do not call them resolutions because for some reason I can never stick to something if it is labeled a “resolution”).
But, if you’re like me, you plunge enthusiastically into your objectives with the vigor of the Energizer Bunny, only to feel the batteries quickly drain after bumping up against obstacles. Last year, for example, I tried drinking protein shakes for breakfast every day. I had to get up extra early to make time prior to work so I could create my shake masterpieces, which ultimately only lasted me until 9am when I started getting shaky and hungry again. After just one week, my Magic Bullet found itself lonely once more.
Working with job seekers, I often see this same pattern: you start out the search with a positive outlook, roll up your sleeves and dive head-first into the job market. But, after a number of obstacles, like un-returned email from potential employers, the wind slowly leaks out of the sails and the search comes to a slow, grinding halt. Just like my Magic Bullet.
To get your New Year and job search off to a solid start, I offer up some Search Shake ingredients that will truly satisfy, keep you going and revive your energy for the challenges of an effective search:
Go “Job Shopping”. Just like after-Christmas sales, employers often reset their inventory and post jobs. After the New Year, people are back from holiday vacations and we typically see some turnover in the job market after the 1st of the year. Get ready to see a greater number of postings and get job shopping! “Job shopping” is great because it allows you the opportunity to take a look, browse and see what’s appealing without any commitment. Use simple search engines, like Monster, LinkedIn, CareerBuilder , Indeed or even Google/Bing to explore. Hone in on keywords (more about this later) that are meaningful to you and just window-shop. No pressure!
Make Your Shopping List. Once you’ve collected a few items in your job search basket, use that highlighter Santa gave you in your stocking to emphasize the language of the jobs that appeal to you. Be specific and highlight things that are particular to that type if job. For example, you are looking for a marketing role, highlight SEO, metrics, measurement, audience, focus groups. These are words you will continue to use in your posting search + in all tools for your search, including your resume. The idea here is that you want to speak the language of the marketplace.
Add Ingredients. Once you’ve created your shopping list of key words, take a look at your current resume and consider how you talk about your qualifications. Do you include those words? Are you highlighting what employers are looking for? Do you show measurable results? They’ve given you the recipe. Now it’s up to you to tell them whether you have the right “ingredients” and how well your past recipes have turned out!
Learn to Love LinkedIn: the Epicurious/Big Oven/Bon Appetit of Job Search. I know that for years you’ve been accepting invitations from current colleagues, past colleagues, friends and acquaintances to connect via LinkedIn. But, you have no idea how it can be valuable for your search. You can maintain and create more and quicker connections through this forum in ways that you rarely can with traditional means.
I conduct LinkedIn workshops and my favorite way to explain how LinkedIn works is this: each one of us has the opportunity to tell our professional story to the world via LinkedIn. How do you tell your story? Is it sparse and meaningless, just a laundry list of jobs? Or is it robust and intriguing? How do you measure up to the thousands of recruiters looking for someone just like you?
Your resume is a simple template for creating an initial LinkedIn profile easily. Don’t forget those key words, and remember – your profile is a living site and your connections should always be growing.
Declare Your Intent. I read somewhere that dieters who tell others that they are on the path to weight loss are more successful then those who keep their Weight Watchers meetings a secret. I can see how making it known to others that you want to succeed, creates a cheerleading section for you and keeps you honest on your quest to shed pounds.
The same is true of job search: if you tell others that you are looking, you help create a cheering section – more eyes and ears in the marketplace – who will be looking out for you. It is unlikely you will get a job offer from a friend within your inner circle, but it is very likely that the friend will know someone who does know of a job that will interest you.
While keeping quiet does keep your current employer from knowing about your search, it doesn’t let the marketplace know that you’re available. Use your trusted network. Former colleagues are great for this because they left at some point and can appreciate discretion.
If no one knows you’re looking, how can you be found?
Also, if you declare your intent, it is likely that you’ll follow through on the search!
Falling Off the Wagon…Stops and starts in job search are highly likely. Know that now and get comfortable with the idea that you will enjoy times of “full-speed-ahead” and moments of frustration. Falling off the wagon doesn’t mean you cannot get back on, but it helps to know that you are taking the right steps forward. To this day, I find myself making protein, kale, banana, frozen strawberry and almond milk smoothies at least twice a week. I may not be dropping entire dress sizes, but I am proud of the notion that I am doing something. Who knows…in 2014 I may make use of that Magic Bullet more often!