It seems that more and more often, I encounter numerous clients, friends and associates who have been laid off or fired and many others who for one reason or another are out of work and looking for a job. If you are in this group of individuals and looking for employment, it can be a tremendously stressful time as you try and figure out what you are going to do to survive and pay your bills. It becomes even more worrisome to balance survival with the lengthy processes companies implement in their hiring practices.
If funds are low a job loss can be devastating to every aspect of your life, so it is important to understand how to quickly get another job. Notice I didn’t say career — you may need to find a job first, that will cover your living expenses and then look for a career.
Career development takes many forms, depending on your stage in life and the state of your career. If, however, you are in a season of transition, career development becomes less philosophical, less theoretical, and all about action and results.
If this is you, then getting a job becomes your full-time job. Many times, we make the mistake of treating the job search like an activity that will take care of itself: update resumes, networking with individuals to see if they know of a position and then waiting for interviews and hopefully an offer. Unfortunately, the job search process is more complex and competitive than ever before; the “bench” is full of talented, creative, pedigreed, and hungry candidates all competing for the same position you are. Let me share some thoughts from a longtime corporate leader and friend, Justin Fuller who provides three ideas on how to prepare to secure your next job.
So, how can you prepare to secure the next job of your dreams? Consider these three steps:
1. Develop a new mind set. Getting a new job is a J-O-B. Getting that next job is all about having the right conviction. It is a process, not an event. It requires daily effort, daily activity, and daily accountability. It is about having a well-thought out, disciplined and actionable strategy that you can execute each day. Like a job, commit yourself to a certain number of working hours. Develop a routine that works for you: start at a certain time, take scheduled breaks, and review your progress at the end of each “work” day. Develop a system of follow-up and follow-through that allows you to review past activities, phone conversations, new connections made, resumes submitted, and meetings held. After a few weeks, you will have enough activity that if there is no way to keep it organized, opportunities will fall through the cracks. Oftentimes, it is perseverance and timing that wins the day, and losing track of what you did yesterday limits tomorrow’s opportunities.
2. “Hire” a support team. Bring in one or two key friends or mentors who can help keep you encouraged throughout the process (which can sometimes be a long one). You will need encouragement and emotional support along the way, and trying to do the job search “in a vacuum” can become frustrating, lonely, and even discouraging. A trusted job search “team” can hold you accountable, keep you encouraged when you feel down, be “thinking partners” as you consider offers, pros/cons, and help prepare you for mock interviews.
3. Don’t just update your resume; get in touch with “your story.” Merely updating your resume is too passive, lacks purpose, and often misses the mark when it comes to actually capturing the essence of your candidacy to future employers. Obviously, your resume should be current, accurate, properly structured and proofed by a professional, but that is only the beginning- not the end. Instead, consider “updating your story and experiences.” Your story is not just what you look like on paper; it is who you are as a whole person: your strengths, qualifications, accomplishments, values, desires, hopes, aspirations, and unique skills sets. It is the collection of all those things that truly make you shine, set you apart, and captivate the attention of potential employers. Your resume gets you a seat at the table, but your story should be memorable, captivate the imagination, and leave your potential employer wanting more. Your story comes alive when you get in touch with who you are, what you have done, and how you have done it. In order to maximize your story, work with your support team to craft a living narrative based upon your most significant accomplishments and your unique attributes. Be sure to practice, practice, and practice. Your story and examples live out loud, not on paper. Make sure it feels true to you, is colorful, succinct, and compelling to those who hear it. Your support team will be your sounding board as you practice telling your story in preparation for upcoming interviews.
There is no recipe for the perfect dish of new employment, and no guarantee of instant success. However, if you follow the suggestions above, you will become excellent at the job search process, more confident and engaging as a candidate, and significantly more prepared than your competition. Remember it is your career!
• A consultant, author, PhD, triathlete, father, and resident of Gilbert, Dr. CK Bray is a career and organizational development expert who has worked with numerous organizations — ranging from Fortune 500 companies to emerging start-ups. He can be reached at ck@DrCKBray.com or find his blog and more at www.DrCKBray.com.