The Ultimate Guide to a Job Search
Here is a collected personal experience of job hunting throughout the years. This guide is to help those in need of finding a job and how to come out on top.
After being out of a job for an allotted time of almost 2 years throughout my career and since the economy is slowly starting to come back (SLOWLY!), I thought this would be a great time to offer tips and tricks on how to actually perform a job search.
After finding out the first time that I was laid off, I was completely devastated and upset with myself. I started thinking that everything I did was for naught. Not so!
- Don't take it personally, it's just business.
When working for someone, keep in mind that they have an agenda and a business to run. I know, I know, they let a lot of talented people go and it's a bitter pill to swallow, but they are doing it for the better of the company. Remember, They can't take your experience away from you.
- Do NOT burn any bridges!
I have talked to a number of managers who at one point had to release a consultant/employee and it was out of their control. The manager felt horrible about letting that person go...until that person opened their mouth. Needless to say, the consultant was extremely upset and took it personally. The consultant made it abundantly clear that he would never work for them again.
The manager calmly agreed.
- Dust off your resume!
In your career, your resume is your secret weapon. Have it ready at all times, including on-line. You never know who you'll be talking to next. I currently have my resume on Google Docs. The great thing about Google Docs is that they can download it in PDF, MS Word, or any other format.
NOTE: Make sure you have a text version of your resume and cover letter for email deliveries.
It's all about choices!
Now, stand up, dust yourself off, hold your head high, and get ready to make your next move. You have two choices:
- Work for someone, or
- Work for yourself
I won't go too much into the working-for-yourself aspect since I already talked about this in a previous post (5 ways to turn your layoff into an opportunity).
If you have enough money in your account to sustain a lifestyle for a 3-6 month period of time, by all means, go for it!
If not, well...continue reading. :-)
Create your resume portfolio.
Let's focus on your resume. As I said, your resume is your greatest weapon when looking for an opportunity so you need to make your resume look outstanding.
- "Blah" Resumes
Don't just print out an updated resume on plain ink-jet paper and hand it to someone. Not a good thing to do. Again, THIS IS A JOB. I can't stress that enough. Your image should shine through when you hand them your resume. Look for example resumes on the Internet and tailor them to fit your personality or image.
- Make a trip to Staples, OfficeMax, or Office Depot
Purchase the following items for your resume:
- Exceptional Resume Paper
- 10" x 13" Clasp Envelopes
- GOLD Paper clips
- Portfolio-Style folders with two pockets on the inside.
These are your tools to create a solid resume that looks professional. The gold paper clips are for your multiple attachments (I go with gold because they look better and are more attractive than the silver paper clips).
How to organize your "resume portfolio."
Include recommendation letters, actual photo or graphic images (if applicable for design work), and cover letters (placing your cover letter first) on the left-hand side of the portfolio and place your resume on the right-hand side.
Then place each "resume portfolio" into the 10x13 Clasp Envelope.
You are now ready to start marketing yourself!
Network, Network, Network!
Let's get cracking! You have to find a job!
- Prepare your Job Search Journal/Log
Open Microsoft Word or OpenOffice Writer and save a blank document as Job Search Journal - 2009. Your Job Search Journal should look like this.
8:00p - Contacted Mrs. Doe from recruiting company @ 999-999-9999 regarding position at Marketing, Inc.
9:30p - Received call from Jeff about an interview for Friday
* Found a new job posting on Indeed.com for a CIO position.
I know this sounds like a pain in the @$$, but trust me, your contact list is very valuable.
- Make yourself visible to recruiters
One thing that recruiters look for are people who show some initiative and are in constant contact with them. As my father used to say, "the squeaky wheel gets the grease."
My job search site of choice is LinkedIn.com. Over the years, I have accumulated a large number of recruiters in my address book so this was a great place to start.
LinkedIn.com makes this a VERY simple process. Since you can tag all of your contacts with a particular keyword, I've tagged certain contacts with the "recruiter" keyword and sent an email to all of them with the click of a button.
After sending out an email to these recruiters, 80% of the recruiters wrote back within 30 minutes telling me about opportunities and wanted to schedule an interview to get a better "feel" for my skills. This entry would be added to my Job Search Journal as:
- Sent emails out to my list of recruiters from LinkedIn.com
- Joe at blah blah
- Phil at blah, blah
- Sent emails out to my list of recruiters from LinkedIn.com
- No vacation time on this job.
Just because it's called "Job Search" doesn't mean you stop now and wait for people to call you. It should be called the Job Search "Job."
Understand that this is a JOB in itself. You wake up in the morning, you sit at your computer, (or go out) and you start networking through email, phone, and setting up interviews.
- Don't forget the Job Classifieds section
Your job search should also include newspaper classifieds. Even though we live in a digital world, that doesn't mean that we need to disconnect ourselves from people.
At one point on a Sunday, I gathered all of the possible jobs that fit my skills from the Sunday paper. I looked through my contacts and tried to find any name that was inside that company (here is where LinkedIn.com comes in handy) and wrote a personalized cover letter to that particular person and included it with the resume portfolio. I woke up the next morning and went out with a stack of "resume portfolios" and MapQuest maps. I went the quickest route to hit all of the companies on my list, walked into the company, and handed my resume to the person responsible for hiring individuals.
Yeah, I hear you, "Oh, that is soooooo old school."
I say, "The street ain't that harsh."
The funny thing about doing this, half of the people I met that day remembered me and kept me in mind for future positions or opportunities. They noticed I got off my @$$ and wanted to make an effort of helping them to fill positions instead of projecting an image that I was at home waiting for people to come to me.
And of course, each company I stopped at would be entered into your Job Search Journal/Log.
The Digital Job Search
Of course, we couldn't have a complete job search without Internet activities. Here are some possibilities for a thorough job search on the Internet:
- Internet Job Sites
- LinkedIn (http://www.linkedin.com/)
- CareerBuilder (http://www.careerbuilder.com/) (My favorite)
- Indeed (http://www.indeed.com/)
Another one of my personal favorites. Indeed.com has the ability to create a search agent in the form of an RSS feed. So every morning you can check your feed reader for positions that meet your criteria.
- Monster.com (http://www.monster.com/)
- The Ladders (http://www.theladders.com/) (Subscription-based job board: $30/month)
- Dice (http://www.dice.com/)
I'm sorry, but I have to mention this. One other quick note about LinkedIn.com, they have a utility offered on their site called the Jobs insider.
This extension is absolutely amazing. It's offered as either an Internet Explorer or Firefox extension. It's free, so download and install it.
Let me give you an example of how it works.
I was on a job site looking through a list of jobs and found one that was really interesting. I clicked on it for additional details.
Immediately, the LinkedIn.com Jobs insider Sidebar appeared and notified me that the company on the job detail page that I was looking at had 6 contacts connected to that job and they could help me get that particular position. I clicked on the number 6 and it immediately took me to LinkedIn.com's web site with people I could contact to help me with this position. Amazing!
Job Search Schedule
Now that you have a general understanding of how a REAL job search works, here is an overview of my schedule that I wrote while looking back over my Job Search Journal:
- Wake up and check the Sunday newspaper. Look over the classifieds and cut out what interests you.
- Research the companies and see if you have any contacts from those companies who could help you out with a name or recommendation.
- Spend the rest of the day printing out resumes for those particular job positions. If you got a contact or name, print out a cover letter with the contact name and include it in your resume.
- Monday, Wednesday, and Friday.
- Mornings were analog activities
- Distribute my resume portfolio's to the companies that I was interested in by driving to their locations. This had an additional benefit of getting the "stink blown off of me" during the week (translation: it got me out of the house and moving).
- Afternoons were digital activities
- Check my email for possible opportunities
- Check the job boards for positions that fit my skills and submit resume's as well.
- Even though it's analog, return any phone calls or start calling recruiters to find out the status of jobs mentioned previously.
- Since Friday is heading into the weekend, most recruiters will or won't call back after 3:00p or 4:00p.
- Mornings were analog activities
- Tuesday and Thursday
- According to a number of job recruiting places, Tuesday and Thursdays are the best times to schedule interviews, so it's best to keep these days open. The best thing to do if no interviews are scheduled is to proceed with the digital activities in the afternoon as discussed above.
- Review your Job Search Journal
- Schedule activities for next week.
- Get more resume supplies. :-)
I've covered everything in this guide from initially knowing about losing your job to making an actual job out of it. In this economy, you need to have a creative side of finding work, whether it's freelance or full-time.
Two other pieces of advice I have to offer. One is a product. A book actually. A book called What Color is Your Parachute? This book is definitely the handbook for determining what you want to do with your life, whether it's working for someone or working for yourself (an entire chapter is dedicated to that). By all means, pick up a copy to expand your job search abilities.
The other piece of advice I have is don't be hard on yourself and don't wallow in self-pity. You literally have a job to do. Start networking and prepare yourself for a career, regardless of what you decide. You control your life. No one else does.
I hope this guide gave you an idea of how much work goes into a job search. This guide was primarily for people who are out of a job for the first time and need some guidance and help. I hope I've provided that assistance.
If anyone has other suggestions for other job seekers out there, please post them in the comments below.