Job Search Strategies (part deux)

Time for a change? Let's start with this riddle: "How many psychiatrists does it take to change a light bulb?" Answer: "Only one but the bulb has really gotta wanna change." Whether you're considering an internal change (promotion, different department or geographic location) or an external change (new employer) the degree of your success, speed and transition will be effected by your strategy. Here are a few points to consider:

Cast a wide net...Today "net" means Internet, Intranet and networking. Your project is a multi-tiered marketing event with electronic and digital media, direct mail, schmoozing, public speaking and host of internal and external spies (read: "The Art of War" by Sun Tzu). Begin by defining exactly what you're looking for so you'll know it when you see it...but don't expect your immediate and measurable results like advertising. Think big picture, more like throw it out to the universe and see what comes back marketing.

Research rules!...Most job seekers fail because they're too focused on their needs like title, location and compensation instead of the needs of the organization and the people within it. Build the equation from left to right: 2+3(x-y) = great gig instead of great gig = 2+3(x-y). You've got to know what 2, 3, x & y are (job, location, comp, cultureand how your skills and experience apply respectively. Once you do, the equation virtually solves itself. Remember this when you're interviewing and tailor your responses to the job function of the individual you're addressing - HR folks want to hear about your ability to develop people and be part of the team, operators want to know about your consistency and ability to execute, marketers want to hear about your creativity and sales focus. Save your jokes for the CFO; they'll appreciate the diversion from the latest Sarbox rule.

Hindsight is 20-20. Don't break your neck looking over your shoulder and what could have been or mistakes you made. And it's not about the blind enthusiasm of the glass being half full instead of half empty. Think of it in a new millennium kind of way: "The glass is ½ liquid and ½ air." No judgment, always moving forward.

Referrals are righteous. It's amazing what happens when you offer to help others - whether it's a referral to someone better suited for the job or a vendor with a solution, you get what you give. But don't expect a tit for tat pay back, karma and marketing aren't that judicious. You'll work like mad and get nothing then suddenly from out of know where what you're looking for almost magically appears.

Your new job is finding a job. Get a plan, get organized and get committed. I'm reminded of what my scuba instructor taught us: "Plan your dive and dive your plan. If you're going to do anything deep, dumb or dangerous, do it first while there's still plenty of air in your tank." Set goals, dedicate time and stay balanced by getting plenty of exercise, feeding your brain and nurturing your soul. See a matinee on Tuesday afternoon.

Familiarity breeds contentment. The single most powerful answer to any interview question is: "I don't know." Assuming you follow that with "Here's how I would find out." It not only demonstrates your honesty and knowledge of your limitations (read: NO EGO) but it also gives you an opportunity to demonstrate how you work. Employers are most likely to hire someone they know because they're already familiar with their style - they're a known entity with more predictable results. Once you've demonstrated your own M.O. you're more likely to get the job - or better still less likely to get the job that you'll later regret.

Anecdotes-ALWAYS. When responding to questions with facts and figures you'll touch the interviewers mind. Tell them a story and you'll touch their heart - and once again demonstrate to them how you work to build familiarity. Be careful and avoid the impression that you're going to do what you've always done and not tweak your efforts to the employers culture, product and people.

The only stupid question is the one you didn't ask. Smart interviewers realize they can learn more from the questions you ask than the questions you answer. And if you've done your research you'll know the questions they want you to ask and the ones that are "off limits." You're selling yourself but you've got to ask your customer what they want to buy.

Know your ABC's. Always Be Closing - whether it's the next step in the interview process or simply asking for the job, every candidate has to close on the next step. You'll need to be tactful and graceful…so here's a secret I've used that helps set the stage, ask the interviewer: "What kind of impression have I made on you today?" You've dropped your guard and made yourself more vulnerable than the Swiss Navy so be prepared for their answer.

There's no magic formula for finding a new job. These are just a few highlights that hit the highlights for those of you who don't look for a job everyday like I do. Here are the big picture subjects most hiring managers want to have satisfied:

1) Initiative
2) Willingness to accept responsibility
3) Ability to grow within the job and the company
4) Ability to assume authority when required
5) Your respect for authority
6) Expertise
7) Ability to manage and lead others
8) Ability to work in a team environment
9) Courage of conviction - self confidence
10) Culture compatibility
11) Energy & enthusiasm

And remember, it's only work if you'd rather be doing something else...

  • Of course this is only my opinion, but itís one I value highly.


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