Friday, February 6, 2009

Jump-Start Your Job Search (Part-1)

Thirty of my coworkers just lost their job. After searching the Internet for advice related to job hunting and career change, I became very discouraged. There is a lot of fear and dread in the job market these days. Spoiler: This is not your normal advice on job search. I’ve been through enough job transition to qualify for my own wiki. As I told some of my coworkers, if I’d lost as many wives as jobs, my marriage counselor would say something like, “after that many, the problem isn’t with the wives!”

What To Do If You’ve Lost Your Job: 25 Steps To Jump-Start The Job Search

Part 1 – Get Your Wheels In Motion

These are your top priority. They get you and your system working for you. Follow these actions as quickly as possible. The biggest obstacle to finding a job is not having one. The inertia of inactivity should be your biggest concern, but these 10 steps get you going. Remember finding a job IS YOUR JOB. Get going.

1. Decide you won't be afraid. "Courage is being scared to death... and saddling up anyway." John Wayne. Several other great quotes are listed here: Regardless of the fear, keep moving. You’ve got to show up, keep moving and persist. In times like this, opportunity exists.

2. Keep your standard routine. If you got up at 5, keep doing it. If you worked out in the mornings, keep doing it. Spend your job time looking for a job or building your business. Don’t get lazy and don’t overwork. Here’s an article on the daily routines of several prominent top executives from 2007. Don’t give in to the desire to just lie around and whatever you do, stay away from the TV and the refrigerator.

3. Clean up and update your contact list. This is an activity you just have to do first and keep doing. Be diligent. Get your contacts in one place and evaluate each one. Prioritize them in the order of who you need to contact, who you would like to contact, and those you really shouldn’t contact. If you’re like me, you have some contacts that you don’t know well enough to discuss your situation. Get them out of the way. Don’t spend too much time on them right now. You can always come back to them later. The “need” group gets top priority and energy. Get the information on them in one place and make sure that’s the only place you go to update. Check out Plaxo, Google contacts (which for some reason, can't sync with Outlook) or Yahoo Addresses.

4. Evaluate your strengths. One way to do this is to write a few short stories about events in your life. The stories need to be three to five paragraphs in length. If they were negative, include what you learned. (If you didn't learn anything and they were negative, don't include those.) Then go back through the paragraphs and highlight or underline the verbs. These verbs become the foundation for your transferable skills, or skills that can transfer across industries. Much more depth on this issue can be found where I first heard this, in the book, What Color Is Your Parachute by Richard Bolles or on their site The Jobhunters Bible. Other tools are Now, Discover Your Strengths and Strengthsfinder 2.0. A link to every book mentioned in this article is here.

5. Make a list of your desired outcomes or goals. There is a lot written about goals. Much of it costs money. Don’t pay any money you don’t have to (developed further in step 15.) Simply sit down with a piece of paper and write in detail what you’d like to happen. Write as much as you can. Keep writing until you can’t write any more and then take a break. After a while of doing something else, review the list and add anything that comes to mind. The key is the list. Once you have it, you are ahead of the bulk of people in the world. When your thoughts run dry, group and rank the outcomes. By group I mean associate any goals that are not mutually exclusive. If your goal is to buy a new car and you have another goal to be out of debt, you need to rank the two. One must be more important than the other. But if your goals are to buy a new car and build a website, those don’t necessarily compete with one another. The “group” you’re most interested in though are the goals directly related to job hunting and your career. The more thought you put in, the more prepared you will be when you receive an offer.

6. Update your resume. Consider creating versions aimed at the people who can select you for your desired outcome. The plan here is not to misrepresent yourself. Never be dishonest. But certain hiring managers want to know different things. If you desire a job as a manager, emphasize your management skills and show how you managed your peers, reports, supervisors, customers, pets, anything about management. If you also pursue a job as a contributor, emphasize your contributions in previous positions, even possibly in volunteer organizations or other industries. Put yourself in the position of the hiring manager and write your resume and cover letter in a way that shows you to be just the person they need. If you’re planning on making some money in your next job, this is where you can spend some money. Get some professional help. Take a look through the stuff on

7. Prioritize your contact efforts. Spend some time thinking about who you will contact and when. You’re planning your sales cycle. You would do no less if you were selling a product for a company. The better you do this, the more effective you will be. Don’t compromise or talk yourself out of contacting some people either. You’re family (and the taxpaying public) is counting on you. Contact the people most likely to either hire you, or know someone who might hire you.

8. Create an elevator speech. Did you notice that the step after prioritizing your contacts isn’t to start calling? You need to know what you’re going to say. Please don’t waste your contact’s time. They are busier now than ever because people are probably being laid off where they work too. You need to prepare what you’re going to say. An elevator speech is a short description of who you are and what you're looking for. Most people will help you if you know what you want and you make it easy for them to help. The best advice I ever read on this topic was in the book Rites Of Passage by John Lucht. The author points out that the quality of your elevator speech helps you avoid dead ends in your networking. Even a lackluster elevator speech helps you avoid awkward situations with your friends. Rather than asking them to hire you or if their company can hire you, you state who you are and what you’re looking for. Then you can ask your friend if they know anyone who might use a person like you to do exactly what you’re looking for. The result is your friend now is helping you. Rites has a whole chapter dedicated to this. Check it out.

9. Create professional LinkedIn and Twitter profiles. Include the elevator pitch in the description. Put in relevant experience and education. Don’t exaggerate. This profile can be a very easy to use electronic version of your resume and you’ll be using it as such. While you’re at it, join some groups in the industries you plan to search and set up searches for the jobs you’re looking for. Check out this article: or or Search for other articles and help on LinkedIn primarily. Just don’t spend too much time looking here because the money’s in the next step.

10. Start connecting with your contacts. The point is to ask them if they know anyone who could use someone with your strengths and goals. You elevator speech will help the flow of this conversation. After the introductory conversational exchange with your friend, get right to the point. “I don’t want to waste your time, but I’m looking for a new opportunity. My experience and background have helped me to become a [who I am from my elevator speech] and I’m looking for [whatever you’re looking for from your elevator speech]. Do you know anyone who is in that situation?” As time goes on, you’ll begin to get some names. Make sure to follow up with the person who gave you the name, thanking them and letting them know how the introduction went. Note: This approach is explained in much greater depth in many places, but I first read about it in Rites of Passage at $100,000 to $1 Million + by John Lucht. His book, the companion workbook and their website RiteSite contain much more information. If you’re salary is in this price range, invest the money and buy the book.

So, embrace the future and get going. Your new life is waiting. Part 2 will contain some things to do while you're working and in Part 3, we'll discuss new technologies enabled by Web 2.0.

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