In late 2015 after a two-year break from the corporate world, I began a job search. My time-off left me “rusty” and companies were wary about whether I was ready to work again. I started my job search reluctantly.
Job-hunting is both time-consuming and inefficient. Searching for a new job can be a job in itself. The job is not finished until you receive the offer of employment. The time between search and success can be really frustrating. From my past experience, I remembered the frustration of applying for jobs and never getting a response as well as the debilitating series of “NOs” you got once you began interviewing. As a past hiring manager, I remembered posting a job, then the painstaking work of sifting through 200 applications to candidates who were qualified for the role. I️ also recalled dedicating 1–2 days/week to “smiling and dialing” for additional candidates. It’s a frustrating process on both sides of the equation.
Below, I outline my approach to finding that new job, or, more precisely, establishing and extending your network in ways that your next opportunity will discover you. The three keys to success are:
1.) Figure Out What You Want and Seek
Half the battle in job-hunting is figuring out what you seek. Few people spend enough time identifying their passion, purpose and ideal role in a company.
I started by creating a list of companies that interested me then searched for themes within the list to help identify my interests.
2.) Make the Jobs Come to You,
It’s tough to let go of the “apply and see what happens” mindset learned from your early academic careers. Finding the right school was simple: we applied to lots of schools then chose among those that said “yes.”
In job-hunting, this mindset causes frustration. You apply for a job, get no response, then hear lots of “NOs” when you finally land an interview. And unlike school applications, few of the job opportunities pop up at the same time — it’s hard to line up choices in parallel. For all these reasons, finding your new job requires both a different mindset and approach.
While finding and applying for jobs, continually extending your network to set up an active perimeter where you will receive alerts when high potential roles are triggered on your network. Instead of applying for jobs, push yourself to set up two high-quality conversations each day. In doing so, you make the search an optimization problem. Each week you could sit down and think about all the people you need to meet in the next few weeks, then begin the outreach to schedule meetings with them.
Over time, you will discover more and more job opportunities before they become public. And through these many conversations, you will also develop insight into companies and roles and could communicate your passion for them. From time to time you can apply for jobs, but you also need to maintain low expectations and always make an effort to connect with the hiring manager through your growing network.
3.) Be Patient and Realistic About Timing
While searching of new jobs, just like many others, you can be impatient and become easily frustrated. As a result is settling for roles that aren’t a great fit. Therefore, you should remain patient and outline what you think is a realistic time frame for getting the job that you want, such as: 4–8 months to find a job. Normally, it would take time to figure out what you want and for the right role to open up. Don’t forget to take care of yourself! Engage in activities you enjoy to help maintain your patience and confidence.
Beyond two conversations/day, you also need to do a few things to improve the odds of finding a job. Giving “tiny updates” every 4–6 weeks to your expanding network. While your network want to be helpful, there’s a substantial “out of sight, out of mind” phenomenon, so it’s important to remind folks what you seek. There are many pretenses for these reminders — “Here’s an interesting article you might like,” or “Congratulations on last quarter’s results” or similar tactics. The important communication was the reminder that, “I️ am looking for “this job role” in your network.”
These job-hunting techniques will give you a degree of control as you will face the inevitable peaks and valleys of your job hunt. Hopefully, in the end, they will help your next new job to discover you.
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