Wednesday, May 21, 2008

How to: Approach the Search

Seek with great patience and persistence and ye shall find. It could take you a week, it could take you a year, but regardless of how long it takes the job search will need a combination of: planning, networking, tweaking, confidence and persistence.

If you're out of work and looking, attack the job search with equal time to the job you're looking for: full time job = 40 hours of work per week. You get the picture. When you are working full time and you're looking for the next career opportunity, it gets a little tricky. As tempting as it maybe, DO NOT SEARCH JOB BOARDS AT WORK. Do NOT use company time or property to land your digs in a new land of cubicles. Unless, of course, you were hoping to get fired or not get a quality reference in the future.

When you're gainfully employed, it's going to be necessary to carve the time out of your personal life, 10 hours a week or so. You'll decide how much time will be necessary based on how badly you want to find a change of venue (because it won't find you).

Consider the following, and time block your schedule to include a variety of activities, whether you're an active or passive job seeker:
  • Resume: It's always a work in progress. It's often best to update it when you're not looking for a job & at times when you feel good about the work you do. This will help you highlight your accomplishments. Add or edit a bullet or two to the resume after you complete a major project, training module, or after a solid annual performance review. While surfing the job boards, as tedious as it can be, tailor your resume to each position and company you're applying to. If your skill set can help a company to achieve it's core objectives, demonstrate it in your resume, aka, your foot in the door.
  • Networking: Professional and casual happy hours, job fairs, even weddings or birthdays are a time to network. If you don't have a copy of your resume on you, at least have a personal or professional business card available with your preferred contact method noted on the card.
  • Interview & Presentation: Yes, you want to find a company that will sweep you off your feet & make it impossible to accept the counteroffer from your current employer, but you need to sweep the new hiring manager off her feet, first. (Important life long tip: Always accept a breath mint when someone is offering you one.)
  • Training & Skill Set Development: If the job postings you gravitate toward don't match the skills that are currently highlighted in your resume, you're going to have to invest in yourself to make good on the pieces that are missing from your repertoire.

Over the next few days, I'll break down the bullet points above with a more indepth analysis. Stay tuned. Have a happy job search!

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