I have had the good fortune to work with many hundreds of individuals who have experienced job loss and who are then engaged in job search. This has given me the opportunity to discern some of the key qualities that ensure a productive, and ultimately successful, job search.
- 1. Be teachable and receptive to new (or different) ideas for job search – You may know a lot about Finance or manufacturing or some other esoteric corporate arena, but when you work with a (good) career coach, they are specialists in resumes, interview skills, networking and online job search among other things. Listen to what they have to say, process it and try it. If you disagree with something, don’t dismiss it out of hand, but rather mull over it, try it and if it works (which it usually will), great! In the same context, I also find a little humility goes a long way as well.
- Be active – Don’t just sit in front of your computer applying for jobs online and dealing with a few recruiters. You need to do this, but the key focus of your search is to get into your network…Talk to people! Tell them what you’ve done and what you’d like to do and if you don’t know, be inquisitive about what they do in their company or industry. Create additional options beyond the obvious ones for your next role. The majority of jobs are not advertised, so if you are not networking you are not giving yourself the best chance to land another great role in a suitable period of time.
- Find balance – Many career coaches will say that ‘Job search is a full-time job’. I completely disagree and assume that these folks have never been unemployed and have had to find a new job. You certainly need to devote sufficient time to job search, but with the additional emotional load of being ‘between jobs‘, you need to balance this with time with friends and family and most importantly time for yourself. Indulge in something you want to do – a hobby, a sport or a pastime – which helps take your mind off the travails of job search. Be thankful for the many things you have, not what you don’t have (a job).
- Be prepared – Just like the old boy scout motto! This covers all your collateral like resume and LinkedIn profiles, but particularly when attending networking meetings and interviews. Having interviewed thousands of people over the years, the one key element that ensures a ‘thanks but no thanks’ after an interview is a lack of preparation. Fundamentally, know how you fit the requirements of the stated job and be prepared to illustrate with specific examples of where you’ve used those skills. I also find that ‘practice interviews’ are extremely valuable, such that you actually have to verbalise responses to typical questions, as well as give examples that illustrate your skills (versus contemplating things in your mind and jotting down notes!).
- Be contemporary – Ensure you are on LinkedIn and using it! Similarly with other relevant social media such at Twitter and Google +. Stay up to date with developments in your industry and profession and use technology such as tablets and smartphones to demonstrate your savviness. Don’t be stuck in 1985!
- Be enthusiastic – This does not mean doing cartwheels down the hallway or high-fiving the receptionist when you arrive for an interview, it simply means that when you meet people you are genuinely interested in them, their organisation and any role they may have available. As per point 4 above, it’s also about being prepared and quietly confident.
- Be confident – Don’t let things like age, gender, ethnicity and the like be self-imposed barriers to your job search. You will encounter people in your job search who will have a different view of the world than your own and on that basis alone they won’t call you in for an interview or place you in a job. Don’t fret about this. Just do your best, stick with it and you will eventually find a receptive audience who will value your background and the value you bring.
This is by no means an exhaustive list, but hopefully, one that can assist you if you find yourself searching for a new role.
Of course, luck also plays a part, but I often say that job-seekers who demonstrate most (if not all) of the above traits create their own good luck!