How To Jump Start Your Job Search With Advice From 15 Career Experts
Like millions of other Americans and people throughout the world, you may have found yourself in between jobs due the effects of Covid-19. It’s a challenging spot to be in, especially as we’re in the midst of an outbreak resurgence causing the reclosing of businesses and headline news portending doom and gloom.
Before you start your job search, take a deep breath and don’t panic. You can and will find a new job. It could be next week, next month or six months from now, but it will happen. Looking for a new job is now your full-time job. You’ll need to attack it strategically and intelligently with consistency and steely determination. Here’s some smart, helpful advice from career experts to get you started.
There’s a new trend on LinkedIn to add a banner on your photo with hashtags, such as #opentowork and #opentoopportunties. The idea is to broadcast that you are actively searching and motivated to get a new job. According to the platform, this will entice recruiters, hiring managers and others to help you. Recommended For You
There are some critics of this trend. JT O’Donnell, the CEO of WorkItDaily.com and one of the most popular career experts and Tik Tok stars, is not a fan of this hashtag. O’Donnell tells her clients, “Remove ‘actively seeking opportunities’ from your LinkedIn profile ASAP!” She says studies show recruiters have a hiring bias against people who aren’t working and may cast job seekers in a poor light and could be misread as if it “screams desperation.”
Career expert Sarah Johnston also questions its effectiveness, feeling that it somewhat lessens your brand. Johnston writes, “When an employer has a need to hire—often it’s ‘yesterday.’ They want to hire the best person for the job who will help them meet their pain points.” She then adds, “When you change your headline to ‘open to new opportunities’ or use the new LinkedIn green filter, you are differentiating yourself in a way that could make you less attractive to employers.” Her suggestion is to consider other ways that you can stand out or connect with decision makers.
Many of the recruiters I spoke with are agnostic about the hashtags. When they conduct their searches, recruiters primarily seek out candidates that possess the skills and background required by the hiring company. If someone is in between jobs, but doesn’t have the requisite skills, the recruiter will move onto the next candidate. Michael Tuller, an executive recruiter for over 20 years, says, “Candidates should offer a clear, concise description of their roles, responsibilities, achievements and what they’re looking to do next.” He points out that he’s seen hundreds of #opentowork banners with job seekers saying that they’d appreciate some help. According to Tuller, “[What’s glaringly missing] is a clear statement of what help they need and a precise description of their background, experience, skill sets and expertise, which should be immediately added.”
Kerri Twigg is a widely followed account on LinkedIn and proprietor of Career Stories Consulting. She joinedLinkedInnews editor Andrew Seaman on a recent video episode of #GetHired Live. When discussing the first step a person should take in their job search, Twigg suggested, “Think about a moment at work when you felt amazing, were in the zone and time stopped.” You left working feeling incredible.
“Look at the skills that keep popping up. These are your super skills. It’s what you can sell to prospective employers.” These are the traits, abilities and things that make you happy and will lead toward finding the right job and career.
A top Wall Street legal recruiter, Dimitri Mastrocola, shares daily intelligent motivational posts. Last week, he shared a piece, “Shift Your Mindset.” Mastrocola maintains it’s important to make the distinction between “being a victim vs. being a creator.” It’s easy to become overwhelmed and despondent—given what’s going on all around us. People can allow themselves to feel like helpless victims and complain about everything. They often waste their time and energy asking, “Why is this happening? Why me?”
Mastrocola prefers a more positive, forward-thinking and proactive “creator” mindset. These people ask, “What do I want?” Mastrocola contends that changing your mindset is the fastest way to move from feeling disempowered to feeling super empowered. He advises job seekers to think positively and visualize the awesome life and career that you can lead, as opposed to succumbing to all of the negativity surrounding us.
One of LinkedIn’s “top voices,” Bob McIntosh, believes that you must have a good LinkedIn photo. People will not “take you seriously” if you don’t. He adds that without a picture, he won’t waste his time interacting with you. It’s not that he is being harsh; there’s something off-putting to recruiters when you don’t share a photo (particularly when it’s standard for the platform). It almost feels like you’re not taking the search seriously. It’s important that you use a good, clean, clear photo that presents you in the light you want to be viewed. It makes you come across more relatable and people will feel comfortable engaging with you.
If you don’t have a photo or need some help, Donna Serdula, a LinkedIn profile writer, has an answer for you. Serdula said in a video, “This is such a wonderful opportunity, I have to share it with you: 𝗵𝗲𝗮𝗱𝘀𝗵𝗼𝘁𝗯𝗼𝗼𝗸𝗲𝗿.𝗰𝗼𝗺 is providing complimentary professional headshots to 10,000 unemployed workers in the U.S. on July 22.” She cites statistics indicating, “LinkedIn members with a photo receive: 21 times more profile views, 9 times more connection requests and 36 times more messages.”
Michael Bunch is unique in that he is both a job seeker advocate and searching for a role himself. He recommends staying “persistent and roll with the punches.” Bunch acknowledges, “Many of you are doing everything right in your job search. You’re optimizing your résumé and LinkedIn, you’re networking your tail off, you’re interviewing well. But still, you’re getting regular punches to the gut with rejections.”
He recommends, “You have to respond to each rejection with even more positivity and gusto.” Bunch offers his personal experience, “When I’m rejected by a company, I have a quick venting session with a few trusted friends, then I turn the page and intensify my research on the next company on my list. I also like to upskill or study something new to keep my mind engaged and sharpened.”
This sentiment is echoed by career advisor Kirsty Bonner. She says that every time a hiring manager rejects you, you are actually one step closer to a job. It’s the law of large numbers and probabilities. The more shots on goal you take (even if you miss a lot of them), there’s a greater likelihood of you eventually scoring. Sometimes, not getting the job or interview is a blessing in disguise. Bonner states, “Rejection means that you’re in the game, but being redirected.” This may be for a good reason as a better, more appropriate job with a great boss and wonderful colleagues is out there waiting for you.
Shelly Elsliger, a globally recognized LinkedIn trainer, speaker and career specialist, says, “I would also like to forget the ‘buffet style approach to finding a job. Take a customized approach and always put quality over quantity. When it comes to applying for a job, treat each and every potential opportunity differently—it will beat out the ‘buffet-style’ anytime!”
Many people take an undisciplined approach toward applying for opportunities. For instance, they’ll send résumés to 10 different jobs at the same company. The human resources person or internal recruiter will question their true interests in the jobs applied for. They’ll also feel the person is just throwing things against the wall to see if it sticks. They’ll believe the candidate must be desperate, doesn’t really care about working for this specific company and is most likely doing the same thing with a host of other places too.
Career coach Phyllis Mufson says, “Job seekers can draw from a wealth of information online and seek out career coaches, résumé writers and other knowledgeable professionals. Don’t assume you know all you need to know to job search effectively right now.” Mufson advises, “If you’re not able to work with a career professional privately, there are many free and low-cost resources to help you. LinkedIn is offering its library of high-quality videos about job search for free. Nonprofit career centers offer help on a sliding scale and sometimes for free. Job search support groups are meeting on Zoom (no cost). You can find many listed on Meetup. Many colleges are offering the services of their career offices to alums at no charge.”
Sabrina Woods, a holistic career coach, wants you to pay attention to your overall well-being and practice self-care during the interview process. “What I would say to job seekers is to take their mental health really seriously. Put together a wellness strategy by focusing on these four areas ‘movement/exercise, social/emotional, nutrition and sleep.’” Sit down and think about what small goals you can set in each of these areas. The better you feel physically, emotionally and mentally, the better you’ll be able to perform in the job search, Woods champions.
Virginia Franco, executive storyteller, résumé & LinkedIn writer, says, “Expanding your network beyond immediate friends and family will yield huge [return on investment]. You never know who might know someone! Think about that person that used to stand next to you at your kid’s soccer game, that friend of a friend’s sister that you heard your friend mention in passing and consider expanding your network to include them.”
Career coach Gloria Monick refers to these folks as “weak ties.” Monick shares, “Examples of a weak tie might be someone in your field you may not talk with on a regular basis, someone you met at a professional conference, but rarely see, or someone who knows you who would be surprised (in a good way) to hear from you. Weak ties have access to information, ideas and #CareerOpportunities that we—and our strong ties—may not know of because our weak ties are likely functioning in many different circles. Besides that, weak ties bring fresh energy and perspective to our lives.”
Franco and Monick’s advice taps into the “hidden” job market. Many jobs aren’t posted online. A great way to find them is through tapping into your network of “weak ties” and the network you’ve built and continue to cultivate. These will be your allies who will give you a head’s up about a nonpublished juicy job that not many other people know about.
You want to respectfully tap into your network for help with your search. Madeline Mann, a talent development and human resources professional, suggests, “Get specific about the job you want.” Then, she advises to create a list of potential targets that you have a relationship with and customize an email letting them know about your job search, interests and if they can point you to the right person at the companies you’d like to work with.
Adrienne Tom, an award-winning executive résumé writer, LinkedIn profile writer and job search coach, tells her clients, “Your résumé tells your career story. It documents your career history, achievements and strengths. However, your résumé is not about you; it is about the company that is hiring.” She wants you to consider the client. “The number one thing you need to know when crafting a résumé is who will be reading it.”
Tom advises, “Just like any marketing collateral, you need a deep understanding of the target audience’s needs (employer) before you start to compile. Then, you must align offerings with needs–very precisely–for content to resonate.” She adds, “Every bullet point and statement on your résumé must be valuable to the reader—not just valuable to you. Yes, the résumé may be all about you, but it isn’t meant for you.” Her advice can be summed up as, “Read and understand the job posting. Customize your résumé to the industry and the position. Focus on the quality of the content and cut out unrelated content.”
Good luck with your search!