Some people job search like it’s 1999:
- They act like it will only take a few weeks – after all, they’ve always been recruited away from their prior jobs. How hard can this be?
- They rely on a resume, a pile of recruiter contacts, and a fistful of hope that it will be enough this time around.
Well, the truth (the new normal) is that job search requires a whole new level of sophistication.
I’m sure that’s not what you wanted to hear.
Today’s job search requires a powerful network that includes a recruiter network (yes) but requires, more importantly, a well honed set of industry and community relationships.
And if you don’t have those relationships, you will need to dedicate a big portion of your first few weeks (at least) to rebuilding them. And by adding new strategic relationships as soon as possible.
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“Relationships, not resumes or recruiters, are the key to finding jobs.”
So it’s hard work and focus that win the race. And, like no other period in the job market, it’s about having a clear and highly actionable strategy.
That strategy includes five key elements:
1. Clear job search objectives
When someone asks you “what are you looking for,” your answer needs to offer specifics (including target companies). This allows for the possibility of immediate engagement and, more importantly, the offer of an introduction to a company or person. Isn’t that what you want anyway?
2. A strong and differentiated personal brand
You need to clearly demonstrate and communicate your unique value to friends, family, recruiters, HR folks, and hiring managers. What are your strengths and work philosophy. Can you position yourself against others going for the same job? What are you telling people on LinkedIn or Twitter? In short, “why you?”
3. Well written marketing materials
Your résumé, cover letter, elevator pitch, bio, and business card are key places to carve out your spot in the industry. You need to integrate your brand message and value into all of these materials. And make sure that message is consistent no matter where people find you. Are they consistent today?
4. A purposeful use of your network
If you have clear job search objectives (see point 1), you can establish a very early and purposeful use of your network. Instead of bouncing around the job boards or picking up business cards at random networking events, you can set your sights on specific events and online platforms where your networking targets are likely to be found.
5. The development of powerful themes and stories
This is especially true for interviews when someone with “the power to hire” is looking for a reason to hire you! So what’s a good reason? Here’s one: when you are able to retell your accomplishment stories in such a vivid way that the interviewer gets all caught up and starts to imagine you already in the job.
Job search is hard work these days — partly because it requires such a broad array of skills and efforts. It’s no longer about a few well-placed phone calls and a well-distributed resume.
It’s about having a strategy.