It’s always a great day when a client of mine lands a new job — and it’s an even better day when a “graduate” of my firm steps up, thinks reciprocally, and offers to share a few words of wisdom with their fellow professionals who are still out there, in transition!
On this note, I’m very appreciative to Dan E. for letting me post some thoughts he recently shared with me, following his successful landing of an exciting new opportunity within city government. Dan, like many senior-level professionals, had been “on the hunt” for a while and had been taking careful notes (it appears) about what he was learning along the way and the series of habits/approaches/techniques that seemed to be most important in terms of generating results. So without further ado, here’s the “Top 10” list of pointers he compiled for other folks who are still on the prowl for their next assignment. We’ll count them down from #10 to #1, Letterman-style…
#10. Keep your spouse informed
Job hunting led to times of self-doubt and defensiveness, but I found that when I was honest with my wife about the challenges I was facing, she became much more of a partner and was able to be a great help in the process.
#9. Work while you look
It turned out to be important to my self-esteem and confidence to have other things – e.g. volunteer jobs, housekeeping jobs, consulting jobs, educational goals – that provided me with an ongoing sense of accomplishment. They also provided structure to my day and an escape from my employment situation.
#8. Exercise regularly
A good sweat is always good for you, but it proved especially effective at helping me relax and sleep during this time of tension. I also found that by joining a basketball league, I met many good networking contacts!
#7. Hire Matt Youngquist (Editor’s Note: I SWEAR I didn’t put him up to this!)
Put simply, being an intelligent person and a highly competent employee DOES NOT prepare you to be an effective job hunter. Matt is a true value-added professional and he offered a variety of methods and tools that energized my job hunt and helped me land a job.
#6. Create a variety of marketing materials in order to better personalize your approach
Over time, I created the following documents, many of which I would send along with each application:
— A one-page “Dan’s a solid business person” resume
— A two-page “Dan’s worked in a variety of marketing positions” resume
— A three-page “Dan’s an accomplished project manager” resume
— A one-page biography written in prose rather than in resume-speak
— A one-page list of about a dozen LinkedIn reference quotes
— A one-page list of completed real estate projects
— A consulting marketing brochure
— A website for my company
— A list of consultants I’ve worked closely with in the real estate industry (people loved this . . . it is similar to LinkedIn in that people feel closer to you if you share a friend in common)
— A beefy LinkedIn profile (the link to which was on each email & resume)
#5. Once you see a position you really want, invest one to three days (yes – I mean 8 to 24 hours) researching the company
This was especially important for me as I was trying to jump industries. I had to prove that I was a “quick study” by quickly studying! And even though you might research companies that do not end up offering a job, as the Proverbs state, “All hard work brings a profit.” You’ll find that your research gives you a better sense of yourself, of the job market, and of how to digest a great deal of unfamiliar jargon. An added bonus is that once you get a job, you’ll be very prepared for your first day!
#4. Uncover insider information
Part of your research should include information that shows an unusual level of understanding about the organization and its needs. In my case, this was acquired by tracking down and interviewing a person that actually held the position I was pursuing a couple years ago; he had moved on to another company, but still had a great deal of relevant information. My scheduled 30-minute interview with him turned into a three-hour conversation that included helpful follow-up emails and coaching through interviews. As he stated, “I would have shared this information with anyone who contacted me, but you were the only one who did.”
#3. Look into a mirror during phone interviews
I don’t much care for phone interviews, but I’m afraid they didn’t ask me whether or not I’d cared for them! Looking into a mirror while talking, though, generated expressive facial expressions that I’m sure helped with my delivery.
#2. Don’t talk too much in the interview
I almost blew it when I went in for my panel interview on Friday afternoon. I learned later that I had – at least in the opinion of some of the panel – talked too much (was it me? Was it Friday afternoon?). My guess is that this was a natural byproduct of having invested days in researching the company and wanting to “show off” my knowledge. That said, I warn you: it only takes one or two nay-sayers on a panel to derail the whole thing, so keep your answers succinct!
#1. Develop a network of advisors
I put this last, because this is the ultimate serendipity of my unemployment which I hope to continue to develop. By going through my contact list and writing personalized emails to each appropriate person, I not only generated a great deal of helpful contacts (one of which led to my job), but I also generated a team of key people who I realize now will continue to pull for my success.
Thanks again for letting me share this list with my blog readership at large, Dan, and for the very kind words you expressed in item #7! I couldn’t agree more with the points you raised above and hope these insights benefit others out there who are still on the hunt…