Monday, November 4, 2013

What I Have Learned about Searching for Employment

Ok, so you just got fired, laid off, let go, canned or simply quit you job.  What now?

First,  take a couple of days off mentally before you begin your job search.  You need a rest.  You have a lot of emotions that you need to deal with.  Take some time and seriously ponder what you want to do.  This is a great time for you to re-invent yourself.  What do you want to become?  Go on a long walk.  Have discussions with your spouse/significant other and your trusted mentors about the new direction you want to take in your life.  Decide on a course of action and prepare yourself to pursue it with all of your energy.

Make two lists.  On list #1 write down all of the ways that your previous employer screwed you over and made your life miserable.  Make sure you write down all the bad things you can think of about all the people you used to work with, particularly your boss.  Now, make list #2 and include all the things you learned from you past employment.  Include the job skills you obtained, the continuing education you were provided, the ways your life was better because of working with them.  Now set both lists on the table and make sure they are complete.  Put list #2 in your job search binder, add to it and review it before your interviews. Take list #1 review it carefully to make sure you have included all of your gripes and grievances, then find a match and BURN THE LIST!!!  Never ever, ever speak of it again to anyone no matter how much you want to.  You only come off as petty and shallow.  No one cares, and speaking of it will only harm your potential opportunities.  

Energize your network ASAP.  Everyone you know needs to know you are looking for work and what kind of work you are looking for.  It is amazing how many people genuinely want to help you.  Many have been in the same situation you are in and want to pay back some of the help they received.  Make sure they know specifically what you are looking for.  A broad statement isn't helpful. For example, "I'm looking for a Project Manager job".  Better is, "I'm looking for a contact at Northrop-Grumman who would know about future project manager openings in their company."

Get organized.  Make a job search binder.  Keep track of what jobs you applied for (print out the ad). Make notes from you interviews and contacts.  Add profiles from your target companies.  Keep a daily log of who you contacted and the results.  Include in the binder all of the information about your past employment, education, and professional certifications.  You will need this information over and over again as you apply for jobs.  Having it in one location will save you a lot of time.

Get help on your resume.  Take a resume class (free ones are easy to find).  You need lots of people to review it.  As you ask your friends and mentors for help.  You will get conflicting advice, so take the advice, determine how you want to be perceived, and go with your instincts.

Take a career workshop class.  I went to the one at the LDS employment center  (www.ldsjobs.org).  There are other free ones.  Find a good one and go.

Finding a job is a full time job.  Treat it like one.  Get up, get dressed, make a plan, execute your plan.

Exercise every day.  Even if it is just going for a walk with the dog.  Whatever happens, don't break this commitment to yourself.   Also, check your diet.  Now is not the time to indulge in Cheetos and Diet Dr. Pepper.  Eat less, exercise more.  Decrease your sugar, salt and fat intake.   Add more vegetables, fruits, and whole grains to your diet.  Use this break as an opportunity to lose a couple of pounds and add a bit of muscle.  You will feel better, and have more energy.

Start immediately looking for networking groups.  There are lots of them on-line, but the better thing is to go to the groups that meet regularly in person.  Go to the networking group with the attitude that you are there to help others.  When speaking with people you meet, ask first, "What can I do to help you find employment?"  There are way too many selfish people at networking meetings, don't be one of them.  If you help others, then others will help you.

Make sure your Linkedin profile is outstanding.  Take a Linkedin class.  Get a professional picture posted.  However, even a picture cropped out of your latest family photo is better than no picture at all. When I see a Linkedin profile without a picture, I immediately think that this person doesn't care.   Have several people review your profile and give you feedback (just like your resume).  Your future employer will look at your profile so make sure it tells the story that you want told.   Check your permissions so the information that is public is what you intended to show.  There should be enough to tell your story, but you may not want all of your information visible to the general public.  Finally, post something on Linkedin a couple of times a day.  You need to generate interest in your  profile.   One of the best ways for you to get people to look at your profile is to post something interesting on the timeline.  Keep it professional and relevant.

Clean up your on-line presence.   Google your name and look for anything that might give a negative impression of you.  Delete old accounts and information.  Clean up your Facebook account.  Stop posting stupid stuff like pictures of what you ate for dinner.  During your job search, only post professional information that might be helpful to others.  Avoid on-line political or religious debates during your job search.  Assume that your future hiring manager is going to review all of your posts. Think seriously about the impression you are giving by posting a picture of cats dressed up as Santa's elves.  (unless you are looking for a job designing cat clothing)

Set a goal for how many jobs you will apply for each week.  You need to apply for a lot of jobs, but don't waste your time applying for jobs you are not qualified for, or absolutely do not want to do. However, you should apply for as many jobs as you find that are within your commuting distance (or relocation area), you are qualified for, and you might be willing to work for.  You are trying to get your name out there and you never know what opportunities might open up if the right person sees your resume. I would suggest the absolute minimum goal would be to apply for 5 new jobs per week.  Do it early in the week so you can spend the rest of the week doing activities (networking) that are more productive  and will yield better results.  Also, set limits on your on-line job searching time.  It will save you from wasting hours surfing the net pretending you are looking for a job.

When you are searching for jobs, particularly on job search boards like www.indeed.com, don't limit your search to just your specific job title.  Be creative with your search criteria.  As you search job boards, and you see companies that are hiring, go to their web site and look directly at their postings.  If you don't find a match, then bookmark the page and check back at least once a week.

Cut your expenses and outflow of money early.  Be prepared for the long haul.  This job search could take a while.  Figure out ways to minimize how much money you spend each month and then stick to the plan.  You can live without cable TV for a few months.  Keep the internet and your cell phone, you will need them, but perhaps you can reduce your bill by selecting a less expensive plan.  One of the great things you can learn during your unemployment is that it is you can come to understand how little money you really need to live on.  This information will be valuable later.   Put off almost all purchases and you will be surprised that many of those things, that you were sure you needed, never get purchased.

Read a book.  I would suggest a few:

  • How to Win Friends and Influence People (An absolutely MUST READ)
  • What color is your Parachute?
  • 7 Habits of Highly Effective People
  • The Greatest Salesman in the World
  • Think and Grow Rich
  • Purple Squirrel
  • 4 Hour Work Week

Do some professional development.  Get some continuing education.  There is a lot of free training on-line.  Better yet go to the local chapter meetings for the professional organization you belong or would like to belong to.  Always look for networking opportunities.

Start working on ways to make some part-time income or generate some passive income.  Sometimes volunteer opportunities can work into paid positions.  Even though finding a job is your job, set aside a few hours a week to work on that great idea that you have had rattling around in your brain.  Who knows, maybe this time away from a structured job is exactly what you need to start that business, write that book, or explore that invention you have always wanted to work on.

Last but not least here are a couple of tips:
1.  Follow up, follow up, follow up.  Oh, and follow up.
2.  Good=Applying for work on-line
     Better=Making a phone call
     Best=Making an in-person visit

Here is a list of the most useful web sites I have found (not a comprehensive list and I would expect that you would have several dozen sites bookmarked in the first week):
- www.indeed.com
- www.linkedin.com
- www.ldsjobs.org
- www.glassdoor.com
- www.dice.com

Since many of you have been in this same situation, I would welcome your comments as well as lessons you have learned from your job search.

On a personal note, I found this quote and posted it next to my computer.  I review it every day.  Maybe it will be helpful to some of you.


"We may need and pray for help to find suitable employment. Eyes and ears of faith (see Ether 12:19) are needed, however, to recognize the spiritual gift of enhanced discernment that can empower us to identify job opportunities that many other people might overlook—or the blessing of greater personal determination to search harder and longer for a position than other people may be able or willing to do. We might want and expect a job offer, but the blessing that comes to us through heavenly windows may be greater capacity to act and change our own circumstances rather than expecting our circumstances to be changed by someone or something else." David A. Bednar 

2 comments:

  1. David L. Gordon, PhDNovember 5, 2013 at 9:41 AM

    Congrats Layne. Your thoughts are spot on and relevant since it seems the only job security today is your ability to go get or make a new job. Best to you, David L. Gordon, PhD.

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  2. You have alot of great ideas and suggestions. I have found that networking meetings or gatherings have been a wast of time. Everyone wants help finding a job or other alternatives but nobody ever is willing to introduce you to a hiring manager.
    I have found the most efective way to get an interview is through a personal introduction to a contact of an employee or hiring manager of the job itself and not just an Introduction to their website.
    The best way to get an interview is to find ways to get past the "HR Bramuta triangle", is to get names and numbers of the hiring manager, or a personal introduction. If you get referred just to the website to apply online chances are your resume will never get past on to the hiring manager.
    Carlos Garcia, MBA

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