First things first….get out the trusty GPS. Plug in your destination and let it map the route. Pretty simple, right? Then hit the road. If only your career path could be laid out the same way. Oh wait! It pretty much can.
Decide on your destination. Don’t have a clear idea of where you want to go? Take a poll. Ask those who know you best…friends, family, mentors….what three talents they see, that you possess. If they needed help with “this”, you would be the go-to person they would call. Many times, we sell ourselves short and don’t realize the value of things we do naturally. Then ask these same people which jobs they can envision you as … decorator, salesperson, teacher. They have a different perspective because they have witnessed your joy while displaying your natural talent in various situations. Their judgement isn’t clouded by your self-imposed limitations or fears or preconceived notions.
Next, embrace their insights, seriously consider their suggestions; ask them the “why” to get an idea of how you missed all that they see. These people love and support you. They want you to be happy. Trust them. Trust their judgement.
Once you decide on a destination, you can map the route. You see, without knowing your destination, you have no way to know if you are heading in the right direction or getting any closer to where you want to be. The saying, “Every journey begins with a single step.” is so true.
Step 1: Compose a resume that showcases your achievements, highlights your skills, and conveys your personality.
Step 2: Avoid being overwhelmed by searching for job postings of interest, then tailor your resume to address the needs outlined in the post. Do not fall into the trap of detailing your current job description. Your audience is not interested in your current employer’s business needs. This is your chance to toot your own horn. Detail improvements you initiated, projects you lead, results realized, teams you built. Let your reader know all you can deliver.
Step 3: Go back to your supporters. Ask them to look over your resume. Do you feel confident when you read it? Would YOU hire you? If you can’t see yourself getting the interview, your reader won’t likely either. The resume is to intrigue and impress the reader enough to want to meet the person behind it.
Step 4: Back to my last post about appearances. Your online appearance should match the image you are sending forth into the job market. Update your LinkedIn account. Upload your current resume. Be creative with the headline and your profile. Take a risk, make it memorable.
Next, update your other social media accounts; adjust your privacy settings, clean up anything questionable, remove any potentially offensive posts.
I know an employer who searches Amazon for book reviews that candidates post. He says this allows him to see what they are reading or even IF they are reading. Maybe a connection will arise from a mutual love of historic biopics or you will impress with your continued pursuit of learning, based on your career development type reads.
Step 5: The cover letter…do NOT send a standardized, “Enclosed herewith, please find my resume…” letter. Personalize it to the job post you are answering. Connect the dots for the reader by detailing how your expertise specifically addresses the job requirements. This however, does not mean that you repeat verbatim, what is on your resume. Think elevator pitch.
Step 6: Job hunting is a numbers game. The more you send your resume out there to “mingle”, the better your odds of meeting someone interesting or being spotted by the perfect employer. This applies to you as well. Get out and mingle. Join professional associations for your industry. Most have monthly events that you can attend as a visitor at least once, to see if the group is a good fit for you. Talk to people. How will you be remembered? WILL you be remembered? Print up calling cards to hand out. You certainly don’t want to hand out your current employer’s business card with your work email. You never know who knows who, and if you are “open to new opportunities”, you won’t want that getting back to your manager.
Step 7: We have all heard the platitudes, “Dress for success.” or “Dress for the job you want.” Keep this in mind when you are out and about. You never know who you may bump into while going about your everyday life. I am not saying that you need to grocery shop wearing a suit; just do your best to look approachable and not homeless.
Ready? You are in the driver’s seat, GPS programmed, have a tank filled with the gas you need; fasten your seat-belt, and let’s start this journey!