Energizing Your Spring Job Search

Spring is not just the time for cleaning your house and yard.  It can also be the perfect time to refocus and re-energize your job search.   This early in the year there is typically hiring activity going on and those calendar year companies don’t have budget freezes in place just yet.  Many companies are preparing for the college grad hiring process and that often brings some internal movement and opportunities.

Spring can be an extremely busy time for successful job searchers, so here are a few tips for making the most of this time.

Networking

The single most important thing any job searcher can do is networking.  The weather will be slowly improving so people are more willing to get out of the office for a cup of coffee and conversation.   Identify the target companies on your list.  Use your alumni database, Linked In, former colleagues, etc. to identify contacts in those target companies.  Request an informational interview to learn more about the company, but do not ask for a job.  Rather, ask how the company hires, what skills are required for success, and how the function you are interested in fits in that organization.

Set specific networking goals for the spring and hold yourself accountable.  Meet people for coffee, lunch, a quick meeting or even a walk outside.  Take advantage of this time of year to make as many connections as possible.  Always ask your networking contact who else they think you should be talking to, given your career interests.  Ask what professional association meetings you should be attending.  Take advantage of these opportunities to meet others in your chosen field.

Have a Plan

You wouldn’t plan your vacation without a destination in mind and at least a rough plan of how you are going to get there.  Your job search deserves at least that much attention – if not more.  It is hard to get where you want to be without a clear sense of where you are going, so create and follow a specific job search plan.

Identify the type of position you seek and the target companies where you most want to work.  Develop a networking strategy and list of contacts for each company.  Have a plan to make new networking contacts every week.  Always thank your networking contacts for their time, preferably in person and follow it up with a written note.  Thank them again if they refer you to a valuable connection.  Keep your network posted on your progress.

Stay Positive

No one wants to hire a complainer or a “Negative Nellie.”  Stay positive and stay focused.  Enjoy the networking along the way; you may just surprise yourself with how rewarding it is to make new connections, learn new things and expand your personal and professional networks!

Reflect on the interesting people you meet and draw inspiration from their career journeys.  Be positive about yourself and the skills you bring to the table.  Demonstrate that you have a vision for what you want to do in your career.  Show appreciation for their time and enthusiasm for additional contacts or activities they recommend.  It is hard to sell yourself to others if you are not confident in your own abilities.

Also, be open and accepting of feedback.  You may not want to hear it but, you need to hear it in order to grow and get to the next level.  Learn from others who have more experience.  At least seriously consider the advice they offer.  Be willing to learn and to try new things.  Remember, you can’t fix it if you don’t know it’s broken.

Use that burst of spring energy to ramp up your job search and to increase your likelihood of success.

 

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2016 How You Leave  a Job Matters

How you leave a job makes a lasting impression with those you worked for and with at the company.  Since you will likely need a reference from that job at some point in the future,  you want to leave on as positive a note as possible.  It is also an amazingly small world these days and you could easily cross paths with those former colleagues in the future.  Best policy is to NEVER burn any bridges.

How do you tell your manager and colleagues you are leaving?

  • Be sure to tell your manager before telling anyone else.  Give your manager the courtesy of letting him/her know first.
  • Be honest without being overly negative or critical.  Tell them a bit about the exciting new opportunity and what you will be doing.  Give them highlights of what caused you to consider other alternatives.
  • Once you have notified your manager, submit an official resignation letter for HR.  State that you are leaving and share the date, not the reasons.
  • If required, schedule a formal exit interview with HR.
  • Thank you manager for the opportunity you have had there and what you have learned.  Ask if he/she would be a reference in the future.
  • Ask how you can best spend your last two weeks – suggest documenting processes and procedures, documenting outstanding projects, training others on the team.
  • Always give at least two weeks notice. If you are higher in the organization and have been there many years, you should give a one month notice.
  • Ask your manager if it is ok to tell your colleagues.
  • When telling your colleagues, stay as positive as possible.  There is little be gained by bashing the manager or the company and it could seriously hurt you in the future.

How should you spend your last weeks on the job?

  • If your current responsibilities are not already well documented, prepare as much documentation as possible.
  • Compile a list of any outstanding projects or issues.
  • Provide a list of where to find critical files on the computer.
  • Organize and label for your files so others can find what they need easily.
  • Work with your manager to identify any training you need to do with colleagues to provide coverage.
  • Coordinate with your manager how you should notify customers or vendors you work with to ensure that they know who to contact once you leave.
  • Don’t leave any personal items in your desk or your office.  Leave your work space clean and well organized.
  • Participate in an HR exit interview if requested.
  • Clarify how you want to be contacted if there are questions once you leave – home email?  Phone?

What do you do your last day?

  • Ensure that everything above has been completed.
  • Turn in any keys, ID tags, passwords, etc.
  • Update your voicemail and email with appropriate contact information for whoever will be covering.
  • Address any outstanding questions with your manager and colleagues.
  • Graciously say goodbye and thank you for the experience.

Unprofessional exits are remembered long after the person leaves the company.  It is a small world, and you will likely need references someday.  Resist the urge to let them know what you really think and exit in a professional manner.  You will be glad you did down the road.

Energizing Your Summer Job Search

As you anticipate the lazy, hazy days of summer, that usual discipline and focus with which you approach your job search may begin to wax and wane.  But despite the mellower mood, resist the urge to play hooky from your job search this season.  Take a prolonged vacation from it, and you’ll miss out on what could be one of the most productive time of the year to take the next step in your career.

Just because business slows down and people go on vacation doesn’t mean that all will be quiet on the job front over the summer.  In reality, these next few months can be an extremely busy time for successful job searchers, so here are a few tips for making the most of this time.

Networking

The single most important thing any job searcher can do is networking.  This can be easier to do in the summer when people have a bit more flexibility in their schedules or a least a more relaxed attitude.  Identify the target companies on your list.  Use your alumni database, Linked In, former colleagues, etc. to identify contacts in those target companies.  Request an informational interview to learn more about the company, but do not ask for a job.  Rather, ask how the company hires, what skills are required for success, and how the function you are interested in fits in that organization.

Set specific networking goals for the summer and hold yourself accountable.  Meet people for coffee, lunch, a quick meeting or even a walk outside.  Take advantage of this time of year to make as many connections as possible.  Always ask your networking contact who else they think you should be talking to, given your career interests.  Ask what professional association meetings you should be attending.  Many professional associations continue to meet over the summer but often have less formal meetings.  Take advantage of these opportunities to meet others in your chosen field.

Have a Plan

You wouldn’t plan your vacation without a destination in mind and at least a rough plan of how you are going to get there.  Your job search deserves at least that much attention – if not more.  It is hard to get where you want to be without a clear sense of where you are going, so create and follow a specific job search plan.

Identify the type of position you seek and the target companies where you most want to work.  Develop a networking strategy and list of contacts for each company.  Have a plan to make new networking contacts every week.  Always thank your networking contacts for their time, preferably in person and follow it up with a written note.  Thank them again if they refer you to a valuable connection.  Keep your network posted on your progress.

Stay Positive

No one wants to hire a complainer or a “Negative Nellie.”  Stay positive and stay focused.  Enjoy the networking along the way; you may just surprise yourself with how rewarding it is to make new connections, learn new things and expand your personal and professional networks!

Reflect on the interesting people you meet and draw inspiration from their career journeys.  Be positive about yourself and the skills you bring to the table.  Demonstrate that you have a vision for what you want to do in your career.  Show appreciation for their time and enthusiasm for additional contacts or activities they recommend.

Also, be open and accepting of feedback.  You may not want to hear it but, you need to hear it in order to grow and get to the next level.  Learn from others who have more experience.  At least seriously consider the advice they offer.  Be willing to learn and to try new things.  Remember, you can’t fix it if you don’t know it’s broken.

It may be summer, but companies definitely don’t take a “school’s out” attitude, and neither should you. They still have business needs to be met, positions to be filled and some hiring managers have more time to focus on hiring at this time of year, so take advantage of it. Don’t take a vacation from your job search – instead, step up your efforts and set a goal of getting your network in good shape for fall.

Make the Most of Your Current Job

People often put more time and energy into landing the job than they do in remaining engaged, productive, satisfied and happy once they have the job.  With a bit of planning and focus, you can enrich the job you have by focusing on the positives.  To succeed in your current job and to position yourself for future opportunities you need to stay positive and focused, and make networking and learning part of your normal routine.  With a little practice and discipline it is entirely possible.

Stay Positive and Focused

Every job has peaks and valleys but if you only focus on the valleys, you miss all the peaks.

  • Avoid being sucked into the negative talk at the office.  Some people just have to have something to complain about and will always find a new grievance to air to anyone who will listen.  Don’t fuel their fire.  Don’t have more contact with them than absolutely necessary.
  • Focus on your goals.  What do you need to be successful in this position?  What do you need to do to advance?  Make sure you do something every day to help you move closer to your goals.
  • Do your job.  Deliver on-time accurate results.  Meet or exceed expectations.  Build a reputation as someone to turn to in a pinch.  Be willing to take on an extra project or assignment.  Demonstrate your ability as well as your “can do” attitude.  Maybe that extra assignment is a perfect trial for additional responsibilities.
  • Choose to be happy.  Stay positive and find the good in people and situations.  You spend too many hours at work to be miserable.
  • Do a monthly review of what you accomplished in the last month, what your plans are for the coming month and assess the progress you are making toward your longer-term goals.  Even just a few minutes of reflection each month can help keep you focused and moving in the right direction.  Don’t wait until a year has passed to realize you need some slight adjustments to the plan.

Networking

Even while you are successfully employed, networking it critical to your professional development and learning.  Maintain the network you have and continue to build your professional network.  Successful networking does not require large blocks of time, a few strategic minutes here and there makes a difference.

  • Network within the company – learn what other departments do and how that influences your work, learn what skills enable people to advance in their careers, be interested and interesting, meet someone for coffee or schedule a lunch.  Set goals to keep yourself focused on networking
  • Leverage Linked In – keep your profile up to date, seek recommendations, post updates, review your skills list, use Linked In to find former managers to stay in touch for future references, find former colleagues and reconnect, identify alumni connections in key companies of interest, keep expanding your network. Learn more about Targeted Networking through LinkedIn.
Image Courtesy of LinkedIn

Image Courtesy of LinkedIn

  • Networking beyond your current employer – participate in relevant professional association meetings and conferences, learn best practices from others, build your network in companies of interest, identify people you can learn from
  • Mentor – identify a professional mentor, gain insight from someone who will tell you the truth and help you learn and grow in your career.  Consider mentoring someone junior in your field.
  • Give Back – host informational interviews with people more junior in their careers who wish to learn from your experience, you may learn something too while you are helping them
  • Set goals and hold yourself accountable so networking doesn’t fall to the bottom of your growing to do list

Professional Development

You need to be continuously learning to grow professionally.  Be creative in identifying different ways to accomplish that.

  • Internal Training – identify relevant internal training sessions, build your technical skills, managerial skills, learn something new, work with your manager to identify relevant training and make it a priority
  • Professional Organizations – identify at least one relevant professional organization, attend meetings, meet other members, volunteer to work on a committee, get involved, your learn something from those you work with in these groups. Learn about using volunteer experience to enhance your resume.
  • Professional Conferences – if budget allows, take advantage of these opportunities, learn from the sessions but also from other attendees,  if budget doesn’t allow, review the presentations online after the conference, follow up with relevant presenters
  • Take on New Projects – volunteer to work on a project or with a team that forces you outside your comfort zone, force yourself to learn something new, let your manager know the type of skills you seek to hone and look to identify a project assignment which is relevant, consider a cross functional project to expose you to other parts of the organization
  • Read – stay current on relevant industry and business periodicals, read while waiting for meetings or while commuting if you take public transportation, always have something relevant to read in case you have unexpected downtown, make it a habit to review the key publications on a regular basis, be well-informed