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Job Search Derailed: Lacking a Focused Plan of Action

Bourbonnais train accident, 1999
Bourbonnais train accident, 1999 (Public Domain)

“I haven’t failed. I’ve just found ten thousand ways that don’t work” ~Thomas Edison

In yesterday’s job search, when we needed a job we simply applied through one of the volumes of newspaper ads. With the birth of the internet we applied through the myriad job posting websites. If we didn’t get the first job applied for, we weren’t too concerned; we simply applied for another. And if we didn’t get the next job, still we weren’t overly alarmed; we were sure to get the next one. (That’s how it was back then, remember?) There were plenty of jobs and not much competition.

Those days are gone. Today we live in the environment of the “buyer’s market.” The supply of jobs compared to the number of unemployed has dramatically shifted. Consequently, the job search process has morphed in response to – and because of – the changed environment.

Have you considered that with the advertising of a job, the company is, in fact, shopping? With the glut of other job-seeker ‘products’ on the market, what will make the hiring manager pluck you off the shelf and place you into the job? Knowing that the company might receive upwards of 200, 300, 400 resumes, you quickly realize that simply applying for jobs doesn’t cut it. Your job search requires a strategy.

Following are three essential tools for inclusion in your job search arsenal:

“Tell-Me-About-Yourself” Statement

Whether you’re chatting with a trusted colleague, attending a random networking event or talking to a company decision-maker, you need a cohesive message that conveys in a compelling way who you are and what you have to offer professionally. Also referred to as the 30/60/90-second commercial, it needs to be crafted as a Brand message presenting who you are professionally. What do you do especially well? What are you known for? What differentiates you from the pack? What's your Wow! factor?

Strategic Networking Connections

Applying for jobs should never take precedence over identifying warm body connections, preferably within targeted companies, with whom you can have conversations. The resistance to the idea of networking is fortified by the myths associated with it. For example, networking is not:

  • asking for a job
  • groveling
  • ingratiating yourself
  • (the dreaded) schmoozing

Networking is all about building relationships through the medium of information exchange. Do not be intimidated by the deceptively grand notion of N-E-T-W-O-R-K-I-N-G. Think of it instead as talking to folks. You’re simply talking to folks! There are powerful benefits of these informal conversations with strategic connections:

  1. Provides leverage with advertised jobs
  2. Uncovers opportunities in the hidden job market (unadvertised jobs)
  3. Enhances your credibility
  4. Puts you in less competitive circumstances

Target Company List

Rather than following a system of finding jobs and applying, start first with creating a list of target companies. This list should be based on your defined criteria such as industry, functionality, location, size or culture. You now have a focused resource for researching potential Employers and seeking out folks with whom to have conversations. Eliminating this step will bring stagnation into your job search, for sure.

Those who incorporate these indispensable steps into their search have the most timely success towards getting their next job. Keep this in mind: The odds are against you that you’re going to find your next job in your computer.

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