Everyone has their own unique style, it's what makes the world go round. But when it comes to certain things, aka job search, it's good to consider a strategic approach you can pepper with your individuality.
After all, at times we all need help getting out of our rut. Know that if the current way you are searching for a job isn't yielding the results you expect, it's time to change your strategy. If your job search consists mainly of scouring the big job boards and registering on your state's one-stop-shop website, know that there is so much more you can do to improve the odds of getting off unemployment or into your first professional gig post graduation.
Insanity: doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results. -Albert Einstein
Here is the 10 step strategic job search plan I discuss when I go out to talk to college students, job clubs and with individuals I coach on their job search.
- Identify the position you seek (be realistic or this will just be a futile exercise in fantasy and frustration). You may be open to or skilled in multiple jobs but pick the one you are most qualified for and most would like to be employed in.
- Pull up your resume on the screen and tailor it to this position. Mentally assume the position you have selected and review your resume to see that the professional you are in that role is talking. It must look, smell and feel like it's you, the Forensic Accountant, Account Executive, HR Coordinator etc. in charge and talking. Note that most people simply do not do justice to their own resume. If you cannot hire a professional resume writer then at least go to book store to the business books section and find something like Resume Magic: Trade Secrets of a Professional Resume Writer by Susan Whitcomb. And don't stop there... by all means have a couple of friends who who are managers and hire people (doesn't have to be in your field) review, proof read and critique it for you. Remember, opinions are like #$$&()^!@ -literally everyone has one - just make an informed decision based on the critiquing and edit accordingly. The last two letters in resume are ME so don't be a template be you.
- Think about 10 companies you would really like to work for - not 10 companies you 'would' work for if a carrot were dangled in front of your face. If you don't know 10 companies that hire people to do what you do then you have a huge area of opportunity for research, and you will have increased your competitive industry knowledge significantly - only to your benefit. Search on Google, LinkedIn, Hoovers if you have a subscription, etc. Check out this short instructional video for tips on How to Research Companies Online- Power Prospecting with Google Search. Yes, it is geared toward client prospecting for sales... I'm certain you can figure out how to adjust to your needs as a job seeker. You're prospecting too!
- Start a shareable spreadsheet (I love Google docs). The first tab is the summary sheet with the 10 companies on it. Then create a tab for each company. On each company sheet plot the following across the header row fields: company, contact 1, contact 2, contact 3, date resume sent, date response received, date of interview, next step, notes. Customize as you see fit but the idea is to chart a process and be deliberate not hari-kari, shot in the dark or random hit and miss.
- Contact a few people you admire professionally and who are good networkers you think could help you with intelligence on or connections into these companies. Share the spreadsheet with them and give them access to edit it. In the email to send them the link, attach your resume, let them know how much you admire their careers and value their expertise and assistance and you are asking that they be part of your personal advisory board during your job search. Ask that they help you fill out the contact information in the spreadsheet and make introductions for you via LinkedIn, email, phone, coffee, however they can. Ask them for their ideas on how you can network into these companies. Ask if they know of other companies who could use your talent. Research their suggestions and if you like them, add them to your spreadsheet.
- Spend 2 hours Monday - Friday (except holidays) researching, networking, connecting, and charting your progress daily on the spreadsheet until you A) Get a job or B) Exhaust all options with your advisory board and the companies. That means until you receive a rejection from each company and rule it out. Don't delete the row, highlight it in red and sort the row to the bottom of the list. Spend the rest of the day volunteering and taking care of and being good to yourself/family.
- Keep 10 companies on the list at all times. When one is ruled out research others to replace it. This way, you'll never run out of options until you get a job but never have more on the list than you can focus on. It's strategic, it's a plan. It's doable.
- Send a weekly progress summary in an email to your personal advisory board with the link to the spreadsheet and ask them to review your work and make suggestions. Doing this each week without fail (except if you are in a coma) keeps you and your advisory board committed. If your advisory board members all know one another then send a group email and revel in the groupthink that begins to take place. If not, ask for permission to make the introductions to one another. The advisory board members can get a lot out of this too!
- Be gracious to your advisory board members, thanking them profusely for their time and energy and be patient and kind to yourself as your network grows and you begin to get more interviews and chart progress in your job search. No more blindly surfing job boards, just calculated actionable and measurable steps to success...
- Get your job and then spend time teaching this method to others. Forward this post to other job seekers, get your personal advisory board to do a panel presentation with you at a job fair or job club, blog about your own job search and what worked and what didn't - to help others. Be a personal advisory board member for someone else, the way others did for you.
P.S. I didn't post about HOW you should network -you have to do what works for you. I suggest a combination of in-person and on-line networking - neither exclusive of the other. That means LinkedIn, Facebook, Twitter, online communities, professional mixers, job clubs, association meetings, professional community events where you live. You know, stuff like that.