Here are things you can do to avoid career disasters.
Although the US economy is chugging along fueled by low interest rates that have punished savers, the world as a whole is struggling. Whereas in 2008, the US was hemorrhaging jobs, there has been mediocre but consistent job creation occurring. It is nowhere near pre-collapse levels but nonetheless jobs are being created.
Where once job boards were the primary way that people were looking for work, now positioning on LinkedIn is as important if not more so, as well as quality of your professional network.
As one of my guests said in an interview for “Job Search Radio,” 70% of all jobs are found through networking and 70% of those (or 49% of all jobs) are found based upon a relationship that didn’t exist at the beginning of your job search.
When I released my first book, “Get Yourself Hired NOW!” in 2006, branding was an alien concept to job hunters (and to some of you it may still be one) but it is incredibly easy to do given the technology tools that are now available that didn’t exist 10 years ago.
One thing remains true today as it did in 2006. If you’re like most people, you think job hunting is hard, something about as pleasant as going to the dentist or a visit from the Internal Revenue Service. But if I told you that you could earn at least $50,000 or more than you do now over the next five years, would I get your attention (Statistically, it would be easier to earn more than $70000 following a simple strategy)?
In 1972, when I was looking for my first job, I applied for a position at an employment agency. I almost didn’t apply because the ad said, “Management Trainee: Inexperienced Preferred.” In fact, I had no experience and thus was not qualified for anything else. On that day, I stumbled into the field of job hunting and have spent the subsequent years learning how the job hunting system works . . . and doesn’t work.
Since April of 1972, I have spoken to hundreds of thousands of people that I was able to document (more likely, much more), learning from their experiences, successes, and mistakes, and have successfully coached people to use these different strategies to find their next job.
After all, the next recession is on the way. Usually after blow out growth, 7 years is an extremely long period for a recovery. We have passed that threshold and are living on borrowed time.
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Here are several things to do in anticipation of a need or desire to look for work.
Write a resume update. When a good opportunity presents itself to you, you can’t wait a week to update yours and then send it to the search firm. By then, they will have gone on to other potential submissions and lock you out of the competition. Every 3-4 months update it. Write a paragraph reviewing your accomplishments during that period. In this way, updating your resume will take no more than 90 minutes instead of scratching your head to remember things.
Keep your LinkedIn profile up-to-date. Resumes are for when you are hunting for an opportunity. LinkedIn is for when you are being hunted. The person who gets ahead isn’t always the smartest or work the hardest, although those are great qualities to have. People who get ahead are the ones who remain alert to opportunity.
Cultivate your network. Networking is the most effective way of job hunting. As I said, 49% of positions are filled as a result of introductions to people you did not know at the beginning of your search and 70% all told are filled through networking, out positioning by more than 2-1 to job boards and recruiters. A network, whether in-person or online is cultivated through regular care and feeding. Start reaching out to people you know at least twice a year.
Build a “success brand.” The ability to brand is probably the biggest change that has occurred since I released my first book. There are more places to speak and write to demonstrate your subject matter expertise to audiences locally and worldwide. They require very little time and have a huge potential return.
Read the tea leaves. Every day, there is another story about workers being laid off from major and small companies throughout the world. It is stunning to me that so many of these people were surprised by job cuts. Didn’t they notice no one walking in their store, buying their employer’s products or services or were they just “wishing and hoping” that it might not happen to them?
Practice interviewing regularly. No matter how experienced someone is, interviewing is an acquired skill. The most senior people in the world make stupid mistakes on their interviews saying dumb things that prove costly. Don’t be an amateur. Practice proactively.
Make sure your wardrobe is appropriate for the position you are interviewing for and fits properly. Although this may be a bigger issue with men, both men and women arrive at interviews wearing clothes that are ill-fitting and 2-3 generations old in style, even when wearing “classic styles.” Even the classics go out of style. Even the classics don’t fit properly when you gain weight and stop doing any exercise.
Look out for yourself. Trust me. Your employer really doesn’t care if you live or die. You are hired to be “a team player.” In fact, you are disposable. One of the most accurate statements of this is in the comedy movie, “Back to School.” The last line of the movie is said by Rodney Dangerfield playing the part of the obnoxious but lovable millionaire, Thornton Mellon. He says, “It’s a jungle out there! You gotta look out for number one! Just don’t step in number 2!”
Hire a coach to help you. A relationship with a coach with whom you can sort things out, can help you succeed professionally. Great athletes and entertainers have coaches that bring out their talents and help them succeed. Why do you think you don’t need one? Don’t be a fool and think you have all the answers. Many of you don’t even have the right questions, let alone the right answers.
Jeff Altman, The Big Game Hunter is a coach who worked as a recruiter for what seems like one hundred years. His work involves life coaching, as well as executive job search coaching and leadership coaching.
JobSearchCoachingHQ.com offers great advice for job hunters—videos, my books and guides to job hunting, podcasts, articles, PLUS a community for you to ask questions of PLUS the ability to ask me questions where I function as your ally with no conflict of interest answering your questions.
You can order a copy of “Diagnosing Your Job Search Problems” for Kindle for $.99 and receive free Kindle versions of “No BS Resume Advice” and “Interview Preparation.”
Are you interested in executive job search coaching, leadership coaching or life coaching from me? Email me at [email protected] and put the word, “Coaching” in the subject line.