When you’re in between jobs, it’s an overwhelming experience. There’s an overflow of too much well-intentioned advice. Everyone’s telling you what you must absolutely do to succeed in the pursuit of a new job. Your parents offer stale advice that’s 30 years old. Colleagues—who moved jobs two years ago—give unsolicited guidance, but have no idea how out of touch they are with the current Covid-19 job market. All sorts of so-called experts come out of the woodwork and weigh in—for a hefty price tag, of course.
Allow me to simplify the process, Marie Kondo-style. Here are the core basics of what you need to do in the job hunt—without all of the drama and fanfare.
Too often, people jump into a job search without seriously contemplating their next move. They lack a definitive goal and a system of actions to achieve it.
You’ll see this on LinkedIn when members post a banner with the #opentowork hashtag on their profile photo. They’ll write something like, “Hi, Covid-19 happened and I lost my job.” Then, they’ll add, “Please help me!”
I get why they do this, but it’s not terribly helpful. The job seeker hasn’t clearly stated what they’ve accomplished in their career, the type of job they want next, the reasons why they are suitable and appropriate for that type of role and the specific help they require.
Tell prospective hiring managers, recruiters, people in your network and random strangers how awesome you are and the specific role you covet. Politely ask if they could please introduce you to the appropriate hiring manager, human resources and decision-making personnel, along with a positive recommendation.
Before you jump head-first into the search, ensure that you possess the appropriate skills, background and experience. This market is too brutal and unforgiving to expect that you’ll get an interview and job offer just because you show up.
Over 60 million Americans have filed for unemployment since March. On a daily basis, we continue to see major corporations conducting massive layoffs. With all of this competition, you need to possess all of the right stuff to garner attention.
If you think you’re a smart person, can figure things out and succeed in the role, that’s not enough. No one in this environment has the time to deal with someone who isn’t a direct on-target fit. They desire a plug-and-play person who can hit the ground running from day one. There are too many other people out there for a company to settle on a less-than-perfect fit. It sounds harsh, but management feels, “Why shouldn’t we continue looking until there are applicants that meet or exceed the appropriate criteria at a cost-effective price?”
If you’re chasing an illusionary goal, you’ll waste precious time. Yes, I know. Everyone has a friend who has secured an amazing job without all of the necessary experience. That’s the exception. We are not them.
Clearly articulate the background and skill set you possess that make you a great fit for the position you’re applying to. It’s shocking how many people can’t tell and sell their own story. They stumble, fumble and go around in circles. This won’t fly. The interviewer will get frustrated with your inability to formulate a cohesive narrative and tell you that it was nice meeting with you and they have other people to see.
You must put together a marketing pitch to sell yourself. Just because you have 20 years of experience—and anyone can say that they’re at the top of their field—is not a sufficient enough reason to hire you. You have to sell them on yourself. Don’t say, “I shouldn’t have to sell myself, as my reputations and knowledge speaks for itself.” No, it doesn’t. You have to sell yourself hard. You also need to have a tight, concise pitch that tells a compelling story of your relevant background, how you’ll add value and why you’d succeed in the job. Practice until it sounds organic.
Nobody really likes networking. Unless you’re one of those gregarious, outgoing folks, it’s kind of icky. However, you must do it. Get on any and all career-related meetups online. Join all sorts of networking groups. Seek out top recruiters in your niche. Brand and market yourself on LinkedIn. Find relevant people to connect with, including human resources, talent acquisition and hiring managers. Comment on their posts and share your insights to brand yourself as a leader in your space.
The search can last for many months, which can feel like years. There will be heartaches and roller-coaster ups and downs. You’ll be depressed with brief periods of elation. People will be rude, inconsiderate and unsympathetic. You’ll lose faith in people and feel miserable.
This can’t stop you. You need to persevere forward—despite all of the hurdles and obstacles in your path. Take the rejection, pick yourself up, brush yourself off and start over again and again. Stay mentally and emotionally strong. The search may take one month or more than six months, but eventually you will get that great new job!