I was the guest speaker for the annual Student Night program of an accounting association. It was a privilege to present to the membership organization and local students from the University of Maryland, NOVA, Marymount, and George Mason.
Asked to address the group on a career-related topic, I decided a relevant subject would be “Jump Starting Your Job Search.” My presentation was just over an hour long, but the questions afterward could have gone on for hours. For those of you who have recently conducted your own job search, I’m sure that doesn’t come as a big surprise. A new career opportunity sounds exciting, but when it comes down to it, the task of looking for a new job is time-consuming and often frustrating.
For some of the job seekers in the audience, the first strategy was to post their resume to a job board – or other online career sites. But in today’s market, it takes more than a passive search approach. So, where to start? For experienced professionals or new-to-the-working-world graduates, here are five steps to steer you in the right direction.
Lay the Groundwork
1. Get organized
Put your goals in writing. Take a step back and organize your thoughts. Do you know what you want to do (next)? What type of company are you interested in – large/small, profit /nonprofit, fast-paced/work-life balance? Do you have the skills and credentials to get the (dream) job you want or do you need additional experience, education, or certifications? In what industries are your talents most transferrable? Have you reviewed online salary guidelines and job postings so that you are prepared for the realities of the job search? Make sure you have a basic understanding of benefits – the “hidden compensation” (Remember generous benefits packages can be equal to 30% or more of salary). What’s the competition like? Do your research upfront and have a plan of action.
2. Gather your tools
This includes your resume, cover letter, LinkedIn profile, and your personal/professional references and endorsements. Your resume should be succinct – two pages or less listing major highlights, not a laundry list of skills and accomplishments. And, always triple-check for typos. Also, your resume and LinkedIn profile should be in sync – and don’t forget to check your privacy settings on LinkedIn, Facebook, Instagram, TikTok, and X (Twitter) accounts. You want to be in control of your public persona. A professional image is always a solid job search strategy.
3. Make Connections
There’s truth in the adage -“it’s not what you know, it’s who you know.” Many great jobs are circulated by word of mouth (or through personal email). Make a list of family, friends, former colleagues, and other trusted personal/business colleagues to let them know of your interest in exploring new opportunities. Circulate your resume and be very specific about what you are looking for. The more definitive you are the easier it will be for your network to think of you when an opportunity presents itself. Studies show that you are 10 times more likely to get an interview if you have a connection within the prospective company.
4. Consider working with a professional career Recruiter
Why? Well, for starters, the Hidden Job Market. Professional recruiters hold the hidden jewels of the job market – undisclosed jobs. Often companies choose not to post senior professional-level positions. Instead, they turn to their trusted search firm to expand their cadre of potential candidates.
Another reason to work with a professional recruiter is connections. An experienced search professional will have a relationship with hiring managers and senior-level executives – something the average job seeker may not have. Recruiters can not only get you in the door, but they can also get you feedback. Lastly, you can benefit from their expertise. Questions about the state of the job market and what companies/industries are growing can be answered. Are your salary expectations in line? Are you ready for advancement and if so, are your technical and/or managerial skills in line with the market? Their guidance can help you make an informed decision when it comes to strategic career planning. From resume review to interview coaching to helping with salary negotiations – a talented Search Consultant can be an invaluable resource.
If you are working with a professional Recruiter remember:
- Have your interview tools prepared in advance
- Take the interview with the Recruiter seriously – they are judging your ability to interview well with their client companies
- Make it easy to work with you – be responsive, accept coaching, be committed to the job search, keep the lines of communication open
- Be fully transparent- your relationship with the recruiter needs to be built on trust
5. Build Your Brand
With every document and personal interaction involved in the job search, remember that you are building your brand. Perception is important, so take care of your brand. You should have a well-thought-out “information statement.” This will come in handy during an interview when asked “tell me about you.” Think of this as your 30-second professional “elevator speech” – which includes a short feature/benefit statement that will gain the interest of the person listening.
- Who I am?
- What I do (feature) & want
- How I set myself apart
- The benefit to my employer
Here’s my example:
“I’m Beth Monroe, a highly experienced financial search and consulting specialist. I’m searching for my next career opportunity as a leader in a top recruiting firm. I’ve won national awards for the quality of my work based on client feedback – which means I will be putting my expertise and connections to work for my next employer – so they, too, can be an award winner.”
I hope this short tutorial will help you improve your job-searching skills! Good luck!
At JustinBradley, we’re ready to talk with talented business professionals – and the companies who are recruiting expertise for their organizations – about the job market for 2024.