by Steve Burdan, Featured Contributor
[su_dropcap style=”flat”]P[/su_dropcap]ICTURE THE JOB SEARCH as a nice country landscape with jobseekers spreading out and looking for that next great job discovery. Unfortunately, too often the fields look like the surface of the Moon – deep craters with the wreckage of failed search efforts as far as the eye can see!
Of course, I say this all tongue-in-cheek – but only by a little bit! Having worked closely with thousands of clients over the decades, I have seen a lot of accidents and self-destructive behavior – all preventable!
Naturally, no sane person starts with the goal of making the transition process harder than it ever needs to be. Nonetheless, this is what happens – and people are perplexed when they don’t get any traction.
This habit of cratering a job search arises from many factors. I have chosen four specific examples to highlight – covering both the error and the answer. The mistakes can be corrected and jobseekers can get back on track, but it will take a better way of thinking and acting on search dynamics. The ultimate goal is success – finding the next position that will deliver proper compensation and potential for advancement.
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- Wrong Tools: This is actually the easiest issue to fix! Everyone knows how the tool must fit the task. Spoon for soup, not fork or knife; hammer for nail, not saw or wrench; and baseball bat for baseball, not golf club or tennis racket. Just so with the job search – Resume, LinkedIn Profile, Bio, Cover Letter and other collateral documents. Problems start with a resume that is too thin or thick, Profile over-packed and unreadable. These tools don’t do what they are designed for – package and showcase you to potential employers.
- The answer lies in making the investment to work with a qualified professional who will create the kind of documents that are flexible and coherent. Since the stakes are so high in a career transition, this should be a no-brainer. There is no reason to crater your search once you get the right tools!
- Wrong Elevator Pitch: This resource is also neglected by jobseekers. If they have one, it tends to be way too general and canned in content, and again it only serves to undersell them. The listener, either network contact or potential employer, senses the lack of focus and preparation. The moment of specific opportunity passes and usually does return.
- I suggest to my clients that they put together a list of 10-12 specific skills or expertise areas, memorize it and then click together 2-4 to mirror the requirements of the opportunity at hand. This approach will produce several positives – impress the listener with your focus, showcase your flexibility and build more confidence for the next time.
- Wrong Process: Jobseekers also sabotage themselves by not having a job search campaign or process to follow. Networking becomes haphazard and lead prospecting slows to a stop. Such a lack of organization will quickly sap your energy and guarantee stress, frustration and disappointment. Without steps in a plan, jobseekers will consistently miss opportunities drifting by – just out of reach.
- Instead, even a minimum search campaign will help: listing and prioritizing potential and existing contacts, proactively building a network, setting and tracking daily activity goals – and being accountable to friends, family and colleagues for follow-up.
- Wrong Expectations: Jobseekers must learn to manage their expectations – this is probably the most insidious threat to face. Hard reality shows that interviews won’t follow from every resume sent out. Employers look for different things, so some will find your resume attractive and what they’re looking for, others will not. Many of my clients will swing between the extremes of trying to read employer minds and setting unrealistic expectations. They complain about not getting interviews or callbacks after sending out X number of resumes. Or they indulge in the “paralysis of analysis and try to guess the magical “key word” lottery.
- I always encourage my clients to avoid setting arbitrary benchmarks and focus their attention and energy on executing an actual campaign with all its moving pieces. Of course, there will be many distractions, but your accountability “board” will keep your feet planted in common sense.[/message]
These suggestions are not absolute cure-alls, but even minor adjustments in choices and perspectives can make a big difference, both in terms of personal stress levels and actual forward movement. Having the right tools, elevator pitch, job search campaigns and manageable expectations will only be a big plus! You will have more confidence, peace of mind and sustainable motivation. The basic goal is to prepare for a Marathon and hope for a Sprint in your career transition.