The person who landed a job quickly had a degree in English literature. She looked at jobs in PR, technical writing, fundraising, journalism, the health industry.
Recently a friend of mine was the victim of “downsizing.” Her position was eliminated and she had a short window of severance. Within a month, she had a new exciting job and never missed a paycheck.
Another acquaintance lost his job on Wall Street as a result of the economy. He has been searching for almost 18 months and continues looking.
Both people had terrific resumes, great skills, good GPAs, advanced degrees, and excellent references. So why did one friend get hired so quickly while the other is still looking? Some might say it is luck, and certainly there is an element of that. However, in the job hunting market, you have to make your own luck. How? Here are 3 important elements to landing another job.
1. Immediately start treating the job hunt like a job:
The sooner you start looking the better (especially if you can do it while you hold a position and suspect you may be victim of downsizing or reorganization). In our two cases, the first individual started hunting immediately. She not only checked every want ad and internet service for jobs in her target location, but she also checked into places where she felt she could make a difference that had no jobs advertised. (targeted searches on employment engines and reading company websites). She spent eight hours each day on the hunt, turning over every stone to find new opportunities, especially since she was unable to relocate.
The second job hunter had a reasonable severance package and decided to take some time off. During that time he “dabbled” in job hunting but really didn’t give it his all. When he felt he was ready to go back to work, he had to explain why he had not been working (for the interviews he got. Who knows how many hiring managers looked at the time lapse and decided he was not as desirable). If you are in a similar category and haven’t been working for a while, find something to make positive use of your time. Take a class, teach a class, or volunteer. All of these efforts indicate that you are not sitting around being lazy, but rather improving yourself and your abilities during your search.
2. Willingness to look beyond your immediate skill
The individual who had worked on Wall Street wanted to continue working in trading and was initially unwilling to look at more diverse job options. He had a degree in finance which could have been applied to many different types of positions but by the time he opened himself up to those options, many additional months had elapsed.
The person who landed a job quickly had a degree in English literature. She looked at jobs in PR, technical writing, fundraising, journalism, even the health industry. She focused on how she could apply her skills to the various targeted companies, allowing them to see just how she could fit in.
As soon as the first individual knew her job was at risk, she engaged her network. Phone calls, social and professional networking sites, prior employers, friends, parents of friends, friends of friends and just about everyone she knew who might provide a connection to an opportunity. She called or emailed each one personally, even those she didn’t know well with a short note, a copy of her resumé, and a request for any leads or connections.
The second acquaintance networked within the financial, social and professional internet communities, and friends. Beyond that, he asked people he knew to ask others if they knew of any openings instead of making the connections personally. Working through someone as opposed to making a direct connection greatly reduces the impact. Request that your contacts introduce you to their contacts. Then, reach out yourself – the more personal the contact, the better. This shows the person you contact that you take charge and are not afraid to move out of your comfort zone.
Of course, a powerful resume and a positive attitude all play a part in getting a job but most job hunters have that. Quickly treating the job hunt as a job, opening your vistas and truly tapping into your network are three things you should consider if your job hunt has stalled.
Photo: Ed Yourdon