There are many stressful events in a person’s life and they all can have a significant impact on a person’s life and wellbeing. One of these major events is working through a search for a new job opportunity. According to the 2016 Bureau of Labor Statistics employee tenure was generally higher among older workers than younger ones. The median tenure of workers ages 55 to 64 (10.1 years) was more than three times that of workers ages 25 to 34 years (2.8 years). This means if the average person works 40 years they will transition jobs somewhere between 4 – 14 times throughout their career. If career transition is stressful for you like most this article is intended to minimize your worries.
One of my favorite parables is called Cherokee Wisdom – The Story of Two Wolves.
An old Cherokee chief was teaching his grandson about life...
“A fight is going on inside me,” he said to the boy.
“It is a terrible fight and it is between two wolves.”
“One is evil - he is anger, envy, sorrow, regret, greed, arrogance, self-pity, guilt, resentment, inferiority, lies, false pride, superiority, self-doubt, and ego.
“The other is good - he is joy, peace, love, hope, serenity, humility, kindness, benevolence, empathy, generosity, truth, compassion, and faith.
“This same fight is going on inside you - and inside every other person, too.”
The grandson thought about it for a minute and then asked his grandfather,
“Which wolf will win?”
The old chief simply replied,
“The one you feed.”
During your job transition it is easy to feed the bad wolf. It is easy to make excuses. It is easy to feel sorry for yourself. It is easy to lose belief in yourself. Once you let go of your confidence it will feel like a never-ending spiral. So, don’t let it happen. Feed the good wolf and use these guidelines to stay focused and on a pathway to finding the best opportunity that meets your professional and personal goals. Remember – while you are the one being interviewed by prospective employers, you are also interviewing the employers. They’re evaluating whether your skills and abilities align to the job description and company culture, but you also need to make sure you feel comfortable and that it is going to be the right job for you.
1. Define Your Goals. Answering the following questions with as much detail as possible will help you internalize what your needs are and articulate those to recruiters and potential employers.
• Who do you (and don’t) want to work for? This can mean companies, manager styles, etc.
• What kind/type of job are you seeking?
• When do you want to work (schedule, shift, full-time, part-time, etc)?
• Where do you want to work?
• How long are you willing to search to find the perfect job?
2. Update Your Resume. Don’t go the lazy route and just throw your last job on top of the list of your past work experience. Do some research on the latest trends with resumes and what the latest best practices are for resumes specific to the industry and job role you’re wanting to land. Rely on your network of friends, former colleagues and other industry peers to review your resume draft. It’s always good to have multiple “eyes” give it a look.
3. Write Your Cover Letter. Don’t go with a generic cover letter that you find after a Google search. Be proactive by researching the job you’re applying for and document the requirements. Take some time to craft a well thought out communication that highlights how your skills and experience align to the requirements of the job description. Investing the time to create a laser-focused, polished cover letter will help differentiate you from the applicants that just gloss over this part of the application process.
4. Optimize Your LinkedIn Profile. Social media has become a critical part of the job search process, and LinkedIn continues to be the go-to channel for hiring managers who research candidates as part of the preliminary screening process. There are numerous “how to” articles out there about optimizing your LinkedIn profile. This means going beyond the basics, such as having a professional-looking headshot and making sure your work experience is current. Your LinkedIn profile is your digital resume, so take the time to leverage all of the different ways you can showcase the work you’ve done, the certifications and/or projects you’ve completed.
5. Screen Your Social Media. I once heard that a good rule of thumb for social media was to only share information and images that you would share with your grandmother. If you’re going through an interview process, exercise caution. Use the appropriate privacy settings and lock down as much as you can.
6. Work Your Network. I’ve already mentioned how you can solicit help from your former colleagues and industry peers to provide feedback on your resume and LinkedIn profile, but there are many ways your network can deliver a wealth of resources during your job search.
7. Create a “Search Schedule.” Building a methodology for your self is one of the best ways to keep track of how you’re progressing. Set goals on how many jobs you apply for and strive to reach those targets. Consistency and tenacity are key to landing that right job opportunity.
• Monday: Search / apply for new jobs.
• Tuesday: Network within companies where you have applied the past 2 weeks.
• Wednesday: Review and edit my resume and cover letter, as needed.
• Thursday: Search / apply for new jobs.
• Friday-Sunday: Rest and reflect.
8. Document and track your search. Take notes, create browser bookmarks, build a repository of great articles. Build a system that works for you that helps you keep track of the jobs you’ve applied for and the activities related to interviews and/or other types of activities.
9. Interview Preparation & Research. Taking time to properly research the job descriptions for your cover letter and resume will give you a head start for preparation and research. Search for potential interview questions, research LinkedIn groups for interview experiences similar to the role you’re applying for, and ask friends and family to help you with mock interviews. The more you can “talk out” your personal brand, the better your delivery will be when you’re interviewing.
10. Follow-up and thank you letters. Remember the interview isn’t over once you leave the interview room. Thinking that follow up and thank you notes aren’t important is a very common mistake. It is essential to help “close the loop” on your interview process. Send an email to thank your interviewers in a timely manner (this means on the same day you interviewed). Handwritten thank you notes are a nice touch as well, but emails are essential.
11. Negotiation. Congrats! You’ve been extended an offer, but where do you go from here? It is important to keep this part of the hiring process extremely positive and without any unnecessary strife. Be transparent, thorough and flexible.