Looking for a job is indeed a full-time job. You need to define a plan and hold yourself accountable to following the plan to ensure your success. Resist the temptation to put it off for another day. Do something every day to support your search. Working full time on your search does not mean sitting behind your computer all day searching job boards and submitting online applications. What can a job seeker do to increase their success?
Define a Plan – You can’t get there if you don’t know where you are going. Identify the type of work you wish to do, the types of jobs you are interested in and qualified for, the types of companies you want to work for, define your geographic parameters, etc. Be honest and realistic about your skills and qualifications. If you are considering a career change, carefully identify your transferrable skills.
Identify and Research a Target List – Identify companies that are likely to offer the types of positions you are interested in. Brainstorm based on your industry preferences and geographic limitations to identify all possible companies. Then do some research on the companies. Who has been hiring in the field that interests you? Which company has been having success vs major problems? Which companies employ people you know or alums of your school? Once you have done more research, prioritize your list based on where you are likely to be most successful.
Prepare Your Tools – Ensure that you have a professional resume ready to go. Have several people proofread it to be sure there are no errors. Practice writing cover letters focused on specific positions and ask for feedback. Think about who you can identify as references and ask them their willingness to be a reference and confirm their current contact information. Update your profile on Linked In. Be sure to include key words relevant to the positions you seek.
Network Like Crazy – Identify networking contacts at each of your target companies. Ask family and friends who they know in those companies. Check out Linked In to see where you can ask for introductions. Review your alumni database to identify alums in those companies. Request informational interviews to learn more about the company, the functional areas of interest and their general hiring practices. You are not asking for a job. Capture your learnings. Keep your network updated on your progress. Always ask each contact for additional connections you can talk to. Set weekly goals for the number of networking meetings. Always research the company and the person in advance so you can make the most of your time together and ask insightful questions.
Say Thank You – Always say thank you to anyone who meets with you or conducts an interview with you. It helps them remember you positively.
Prepare for Every Meeting – Whether an interview or an informational meeting, preparation will set you apart. Research the company and the person in advance. Have questions prepared. Anticipate questions they will ask you and think about how you will answer. Be clear about what you want them to remember about you and be sure to convey that message. Listen attentively – you can learn a great deal. Have stories ready to address behavioral questions. Be prepared to articulate what you are seeking when having informational sessions. They will remember someone who was well prepared.
Daily Task List – Once the Initial Research and Target List Have Been Completed
Preparing for Upcoming Meetings
- Prepare for meetings schedule the next day, do all your research on company and individual, prepare your questions
- Be sure your suit is clean and ready and shoes are polished
- Consider questions you will asked and mentally review your answers
Follow-up from Prior Meetings
- Send handwritten thank you notes for meetings the day before
- Reach out to new contacts identified in your meetings, try to schedule meetings with the new contacts
Schedule New Networking Meetings
- Using your target list, reach out to contacts to schedule networking meetings for next week
- Keep notes of your networking meetings, what did you learn about the company, the functional area, the type of role, etc.
- Keep track of your outreach and meetings and who referred you to each contact
- Based on what you learn, update your target list as needed. You may need to take off a company with a hiring freeze and find a new company to add to your list
Review New Opportunities
- If you have 30 companies on your target list, identify six per each day of the week. On that day each week, check the company website to see if any jobs have posted in your area of interest
- If you see an appropriate position, prepare a customized cover letter and have someone review it for you. Apply to the position online with your resume and cover letter
- Reach out to your contact within the company, let them know you applied for the specific position, share your resume and cover letter and ask them to share it with the appropriate contact
Diligently working this process will significantly increase your likelihood of success