August 6, 2010
How to get a job in today's market
In my last two posts, I've discussed some of the reasons why it's so hard to find a job today and the top mistakes job seekers make that are keeping them from finding employment. Here are some tips you can use today to shorten your job search.
Be strategic. There are only so many hours in the day. You can't meet everyone, apply to every opening or attend all networking events. Ask yourself "what is my goal?" Be specific. Make sure the goal is realistic and has a deadline. (Example: "By Oct. I5, I will be working as an HR Manager at one of my top 10 targeted companies.")
Create a one-page marketing plan. Now that you've set your goal, target at least 10 companies for whom you'd like to work. Use sources such as Glassdoor.com to research the culture of your prospective companies to make sure they share the same values you do. Use tools such as LinkedIn to create a target list of contacts who work at these companies and see if you know anyone who might serve as a referral to the hiring manager. (In a future post, I'll cover more specifics of how to create your marketing plan.)
Start with your own network. Make a list of your top 10 to 25 contacts who would be most influential in helping you with your search. These can be friends, old bosses, colleagues, mentors or successful executives. "Unless you've been living in a deserted area, you have a network," says Dan Schawbel, author of "Me 2.0: Build a Powerful Brand to Achieve Career Success." It might not be as a fruitful as you've hoped, but it's something to get started with.
Engage your connections. Once you've created a list of contacts, reach out to them to set up breakfast and coffee meetings. Show them your marketing plan and ask them if they know anyone who can help you get closer to your goal.
Maximize your meetings. Prior to setting up meetings with your connection's referrals, research the company and the individual you're meeting with so you have a good understanding of how to tailor your value proposition. Be careful, however, not to "elevator pitch" -- the 30-second commercial that talks all about YOU. Treat these referrals with special care and remember to think about the long term; these people can refer you to additional people inside their companies.
Work on your personal brand. Dan Schawbel also suggests working on your "product" -- what you offer to the marketplace. Do you need more education? Is there a book you have to read or do you need to get a certification? Can you gain certain experience quickly by strategically volunteering on a project? You then have to show your expertise and communicate your achievements to the world, or no one will know about them. Blogs, Twitter, Facebook, whitepapers and speaking engagements are good places to start to build your online and offline reputation.
To make a dramatic shift in the length of your unemployment, you need a good brand, a good support network and a focused plan. If you have good tips on what's worked for you lately, I'd love to hear them in the comments below.
Karen Burns is the author of The Amazing Adventures of Working Girl, a career guide based on her 59 jobs over 40 years in 22 cities.
Kristen Fife is a senior recruiter, career mentor, blogger and resume consultant based in the Seattle area.
Lisa Quast is a certified career coach, mentor, business consultant, former corporate executive and author based in the Seattle area.
Randy Woods writes about job-search tools, networking techniques and other tips to help you land your dream job.
Matt Youngquist is the president of Career Horizons, a career counseling firm.
Natalie Singer is a Seattle writer, editor and small-business owner.
Michelle Goodman is the author of "My So-Called Freelance Life" and "The Anti 9-to-5 Guide."
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