What is Going on Out There?
It’s been a while since I have written a blog. It hasn’t been intentional, as I have had many ideas surface. But the thoughts get sucked away as soon as I get buried again. The business of getting people to work requires immediate attention, and the blog goes to the back burner. When I finally was able to stick with my plan for writing the blog today, I realized I couldn’t recall every idea that had surfaced over the past few weeks, but there was a thread or theme for much of what has been going. So I am going to tackle that and hope I cover everything.
First, the most important news to share is that there are jobs out there. Yes, there is work that needs to get done and organizations needing someone to do it. There is also work that has yet to be completely defined, but the need is there. Each day I am inundated with announcements, either directly or through the many lists I am subscribed to. (By the way, I don’t mean Monster or Career Builder announcements. I am referring to specific industry related postings from local professionals regarding local jobs.) On any given day, I receive one or two postings that are exact fits for one of my clients. It’s been happening with greater intensity this month.
You may be asking, what that means to you? It means it is necessary to seize opportunities the minute they surface. Sometimes, following up within a few hours may even be too late. So, what are we doing to make things happen?
We hurry up and tailor a resume, design a strategy for how to present it and prepare an introduction to get the ball rolling, sometimes within two hours of learning about an opening. We carefully think through what the opportunity means and what it can lead to. Then we begin preparing for the interview, set a time for debriefing the interview and plan for following up with the employer. Snap. Offer extended, compensation negotiated. Snap. It really isn’t rocket science, and it is amazing how predictable it can be. It is also pretty amazing how delays, lack of preparation, or outright blunders in the interview make all the difference between winning or not.
Here are the basic themes consistently connecting the winners from the less fortunate: (and by the way, none of this is new.. you just have to do it!)
Get busy. There does seem to be some level of entitlement permeating the attitudes and actions (or lack of) by many people in job search mode. Whatever you were doing is in the past, and you are only going to be measured by what you can offer now. No one is going to be beating a path to your door while you are out jet skiing and rollerblading, if you haven’t laid some ground work. An effective job search requires dedication, consistency, and yes, some work. It also requires a concentration on building fruitful relationships that take time to develop. Tagging new contacts doesn’t lead to a job.
Check yourself. How are you presenting yourself to others? Are you acting like you are ready for work? Are you someone people would be proud to refer? Are you demonstrating your skills, reliability, and integrity in everything you do? Are you contributing anywhere or are you known for being on the receiving end of relationships? Are you acting like you are doing what it takes to get to work or are you acting like you are expecting others to do it for you? (Think about it: would you feel comfortable referring someone you don’t know or don’t trust?)
Target your search. Stop chasing job announcements. Get out of reaction mode and start proactively researching and identifying target companies. Learn about them from top to bottom, inside out before you find yourself needing to respond to a posting. Optimally, you will get in ahead of when a need is publicized with a job description. But if you cannot, then it is much more efficient to have researched the company and all the players in advance of responding to a posting.
Get your act together. Your ‘master’ resume should be ready for editing at a drop of a pin. There is simply no excuse for not having downloaded the info you need for an effective, tailored resume before it is called for. Get it out of your head. Develop it as you research and discover points you hadn’t thought of. It should be ready and available to copy and paste into a tightly crafted resume to suit every position. This process might take an hour, but having to do it from scratch can take 4 hours or more.
Prepare for the interviews. Let’s return to the notion of entitlement. Nothing is a given. A winning smile and an inflated resume are not going to cover for you when you are asked the tough questions. Proceed with confidence, not arrogance. Don’t get me wrong – saying there is work out there doesn’t mean you will have access to it, unless you are prepared and highly competitive.
Follow up. If you are interviewing, then it is important to be prepared to follow up within 24 hours. The longer you wait to send a thank you, the less impact it has. Make sure to set touch back times so you can follow up to learn about the status of the process. Don’t be left hanging because you failed to confirm a follow up date.
Money isn’t everything. Be cognizant of what the value of the role you are currently interviewing for could be to you to your future. Your next position may seem like it is for survival, but it also needs to be about positioning. The economy may flatten this year, but jobs are not expected to increase for at least another year. It is better to be in the game than on the bench, but you need to be in the right playing field, headed in the right direction.
Take control of your future. Know what you need out of this role, and where you expect to take it. Tough times mean growth isn’t going to happen overnight. Plan out what needs to happen next. Set goals. Work the plan. Work on developing long term relationships from your new role, not just contacts. This situation could lead you to where you want to be two to three years down the road when the market is anticipated to be in better shape. But the bus can’t get there without a driver.
If you have worked these objectives, it would be great to hear where you are now. If you have had difficulty, then please share where you have gotten stuck.