You’ve been down this road before – looking for a new job. Whether it’s been years or fairly recent that you’ve looked for a job, you think you have it covered – updated resume, cover letter, and executive bio (check), refreshed online profiles (check) and reconnected with priority individuals in your network (check). But there’s that little uncertainty, almost panic in the back of your mind that you are missing something in your job search strategies. And maybe the thought of going through a job search once again is overwhelming. Don’t get stuck and look at that wall in front of you as an insurmountable climb.
- Just take the first step. Executives are known for making sure the plan is in place for a particular project and all involved are onboard with the process. However, when it comes to job search for themselves, they can be hindered by the many details involved in the job hunt and think they often forget that they have a support team to turn to for help.
Professional resources can take the pain out of writing or updating your career collaterals. Quit agonizing over the font to use on the resume, how many pages it should be, or what should and shouldn’t be included; let the experts handle it. A career coach can help you create your career action plan that sets out step-by-step strategies. It’s almost a no-brainer.
- Help your network help you. When you reach out to your network, tell them exactly what they can do to help you. The more specific you are the better your results. People are busy. If your approach is, “Let me know if you hear of any opportunities,” it’s too hard for people to figure out what you want exactly. Most will not take the time to carefully read your resume to identify your target—nor do they have the expertise to do that for you.
Clearly list the specifics of your goal such as title, types of companies you are interested in, location if that’s important, and what you would like the person in the network to do exactly—i.e. who do they know who could introduce you to someone at your target company, or suggest companies that may be hiring people in your position. The more helpful you can be to your network, the easier it will be for them to help you.
- Customize your resume. I know you don’t want to hear that tweaking the resume every time you send it out is the norm, and in fact, your resume may be perfectly fine to send to every opportunity you are interested in. But please consider these few points:
Applicant Tracking Systems (ATS) are used by many companies and recruiting firms and these programs scan your resume for keywords. If you hit 8 out of 10 of the criteria, you may get read by a human. You also may be the best candidate for the job, but not be considered if your resume doesn’t include the right keywords. Here is one example: the position you are seeking has global responsibilities. If your resume just says “worldwide” or “international,” you may lose out on the “global” keyword.
Read the job description carefully. You can incorporate some of the keywords from the job description into your resume in a few minutes to help the ATS and recruiter see you as a good match.
- List your non-negotiables and stick to them! There may be many reasons why you are looking outside your current job for something different. Look at those reasons carefully—don’t accept anything just to get out of your current situation (unless money is an overwhelming factor at the time). You won’t be happy in the long run.
Focus on positions that include at least 80% of skills that motivate you and 20% or less of skills that create burnout. Determine the most important non-negotiables—location, size of company, foreign or domestic company, products or services of the company, etc.
For example, I have a client who is a stellar sales executive and went to work for a leading manufacturer of products that led to lots of jokes. While he loved sales management, he tired of the quips and innuendos people made of the product, and he soon realized he would not move up within the organization because he was working for an overseas organization that did not promote their US employees. When this client started his new job search, these were two of his non-negotiables. He is much happier in his position with a new company.
- The power of banishing negativity. Job search can wear down even the most positive executive. Rejection (for whatever reason) is hard to take for anyone. In Don Miguel Ruiz’ book “The Four Agreements” one of the statements he talks about is “don’t take it personally.” So many times after an interview or failure to receive a job offer, an executive usually has negative thoughts around the failure to get the job. What did I do wrong? What could I have done better? Why didn’t I get the job? You may never know the reason; move on and don’t beat yourself up over it.
Keep more positive thoughts during job search and reframe your thinking. For instance, if you don’t get the job offer, reframe your negative thoughts: “It’s okay, I know I am a better match for another position.” Rekindle your excitement to find just the right position. By turning around your energy, it’s uncanny how quickly new opportunities are available.