DECISION TIME! The shoe dropped, you are now in JOB SEARCH mode | CareerAlley

What lies behind us and what lies before us are tiny matters compared to what lies within us.” – Ralph Waldo Emerson

Author Byline:  Ron Cottick, CPC, CHRM
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Regardless of the reason, when the shoe drops and you lose your job, its Job Search time. Whether this just happened or you have been in the job search mode for awhile, you need to be thinking ahead. Maybe the shoe has not dropped and you have more control or are taking more control over your career. You should still stay ahead in your job search and be thinking ahead.

There are generally three mind sets that people in the search mode have; “People who wait for things to happen, People who make things happen and People who wonder what happened”. You can chose anyone of the three you wish to be, however, get yourself out in front of your search by getting out there and “make things happen”.

With the calamity, the trauma and stress of losing your job, or, the job search in general, you may be wondering where to start. That is a reasonable reaction and many times people are not sure where to start their campaign. Although you can do things in any sequence you want, you will be much better off if you have a PLANNED campaign you can effectively manage. Anyone who gets involved in projects or does project management knows that the most successful outcome to any project starts with a plan. And, did you know that “Proper Planning Prevents Poor Performance”? It does, so, let’s talk about putting together a PLAN!

First, what do you want to do? I know this may sound like an unnecessary question but now is the time for you to have an answer for that question. At this point you are very early in your planning but you do need to identify what you want to do. Call this your OBJECTIVE. You can put it down as an objective on your resume but I am talking more about you knowing what you want to do! You may be a Project Manager that wants to stay a Project Manager or you may be a Project Manager wanting an opportunity to grow into an Account Manager position. Maybe you want to hire into an Account Manager position. Whatever it is you do or want to do, without having the answer to that question, you are limiting the success you will have with your job search. You need to be focused and decisive. Avoid being too generic. Being generic does not give an answer to the question that Hiring Managers are asking, “What are you looking to do in your career”?

So, decide what you want to do and make that your OBJECTIVE. Define it, all its tangible parts, make the decision and plan around it. This will be your reference or anchor point, a place for you to rally around in your job search.

Second, now that you know what you want to do, who do you know want to do it with? If you enjoy what you do in the industry you are doing it in, this would be your starting point for research. You know who you worked for; do you know who the competitors are? That is what research will do for you. You will need to identify your targets and research those targets.

“Direct” competitors would be companies that do what your company does. Let’s use automobile manufacturers for example. Not all parts used in an automobile are manufactured by automobile manufacturers. That’s where “indirect” companies come in. Many times they are called OEM’s, original equipment manufacturers. They manufacture various parts in support of the direct manufacturers of the core product but they do not manufacture the core product themselves. Develop targets in the OEM’s for more possibilities.

You can use this analogy with any industry and can even call the structure tier I, tier 2 or tier 3 companies. The concept is the same. The point is that you could fit a position in a direct competitor of your current or previous company or an indirect company that supports the industry your company services. And, do not forget the growth industries you would like to work in and be a fit for. There could be opportunities in those growth industries you could be a fit for. To find targets in the growth industries, use the same concept. Pick your first choice company you would like to work for and find its competitors. These would be the direct competitors. Then look at the OEM support companies and develop your indirect targets.

Recognizing the need to do some research, where do you start doing your research? To find your direct competitors and companies doing a like business or manufacturing the same products, go to Thomas Registry, Hoovers (a Dunn & Bradstreet company) and Reference USA. These are three of the best sources for company information out there. Many times you will find contacts you can target within the companies. A great place to do the research where you will likely have greater access to the information contained in the databases is your local library. Many libraries subscribe to one or more of these databases and usually provide more comprehensive information because of being subscribed. If your library is too small to subscribe to a business database go to the nearest larger library that does. You may have to get a library card to have access to the database but the cost of a library card is very inexpensive compared to the value of the information you will find.

Once you have all this information, visit the target company web sites to find out what is going on with them, exactly what they do, are they hiring and do not forget about news releases which can provide some valuable information. This kind of information will help you be more knowledgeable about the companies and help you when you contact the companies.

Third, what marketing material should your job search campaign have and what should it look like? Your marketing material should be your cover letter, career summary (profile) and your resume. Make sure your resume is accurate and up to date. It should match your cover letter and profile in content and chronology. Each time you go to send out your resume you should be thinking about sending out your marketing package; the cover letter, profile and resume, positioned in that order. I suggest you have your material written with KIS (keep it simple) in mind and always be targeted to the job description and your audience. Try to have in mind what the targeted person would want to see and have in mind. You want to make that great first impression and as they say, “you only have one chance to make a great first impression”. Think marketing when you are presenting (sending out information) yourself to prospective employers. You are doing yourself a disservice if you do not.

How should these three documents look to provide the greatest impact?

  1. COVER LETTER; your cover letter should always be personalized to the position and company you are sending it to. You do not want to have a generic cover letter to address a specific position or company. You should keep it to about ½ to ¾ pages long and address how your experience fits the position you are addressing with it. You also want to add some accomplishments that are relative to the position and how your experience and skills will fit what the company is looking for. The cover letter objective is to interest the reader and draw them into looking at the other material.
  2. PROFILE; another term for profile is career summary. Your summary can/should address the job description as the cover letter. It will be more specific than the cover letter though. The profile should address the key components of what the company is looking for. Be sure your profile has relevant experience (to the job description), your strengths (functional relative to the hard skills such as a particular technology, not something like team player) and your accomplishments (what the issue was, what your role was, how you accomplished the task and what the benefit was). You may want to provide responses to the following question: “What would your previous manager(s) say are your greatest attributes”? You can do that by saying something like “my managers would tell you my best attributes are”. This is not a reference, just a brief testimonial of what others who know you professionally would say.
  3. RESUME; your resume should be accurate, up to date and appeal to your experience relative to what you are looking for. It needs to be conclusive. When you illustrate the responsibilities for your position(s) be sure to state what you did as much as the scope of responsibility you have/had. The more important issue is what you did in the position. Do not forget accomplishments that illustrate the success you had with what you were doing. List the benefits of the accomplishment such as increased revenue, increased market share, reduced time getting product to the market, reducing warranty issues, etc. An accomplishment in your career is always worthy of presenting in your resume. As for the look of your resume, use a bullet format. Bullet formats are an easier read and the reader can more easily see what they are looking for. Paragraph formats are not as reader friendly. This is particularly true if there is a large amount of content. The reader of a resume written in a paragraph format has a harder time finding what they are looking for in a paragraph format. The analogy in getting attention on the resume is similar to a speaking engagement. If you can not get the attention of the reader in the first 15 to 20 seconds of the read, you will likely lose the readers interest and they will move on to the next resume. You want to get their attention, keep them interested and get them to read the entire resume. A well written resume will do that for you. And, if you need two pages for a resume, have two pages. The argument over resume length is just that, an argument. If you have a solid and extensive background that needs to be told, do it. You do not want to explain how to build a watch when you are only telling someone the time but you do need to introduce yourself completely. Two pages of well written, concise and informative content that keeps the readers attention is OK. With three, you are probably starting to tell your reader how to build a watch.

Now that you have decided what you want to do, who you want to do it with (your targets), researched the targets and put together your marketing material, where do you start in your marketing strategy? Start by posting your resume to the resume databases. The better known sites are Monster, CareerBuilder and Hot Jobs. A good technically oriented site is Dice. Look at Niche resume database sites as well. There are many of them. You also want to be sure to maintain your resumes where they are posted as well. Typically, the most recently posted resumes show up at the top of the results when a recruiter is doing a resume search. If you leave your resume unattended after posting it, it will gradually fall to the bottom of any results a recruiter will see. The bottom is not the best position to be in. You should update your resume weekly. Something very slight will repost the resume with a new date taking it to the top. The change can be something as simple as how your phone number is displayed, whether you use your full name with middle initial or without or whether you spell out your state of residence or abbreviate. Whatever you do to your resume to constitute a change or revision, do it to keep you at or near the top of returned results.

After you put yourself out there on the various resume databases you should do searches on the job sites. Again, you can look on Monster, CareerBuilder, Hot Jobs, Dice and niche sites. Look at the aggregate job sites as well. Aggregate job sites are sites that draw their information on jobs from many sources on the internet. Those can be company web sites, job sites and newspapers. They are a good source of information. And, on each of these sites you should set up a search wizard that will work for you to alert you on jobs that come open that fit the parameters you set up in your search wizard.

When you are setting up the key words for your search look at the tips offered up on Boolean search methods. The tips you learn will help you when you are actively searching and work well with your search wizards. Do not be afraid to change them up from time to time either.

Online social networking is becoming more prevalent as well as important. You can make some good connections and get some good information through social networking. The most widely used site is Linkedin. Linkedin will become more valuable when referring to your researched company information. Consider the research capability to find key contacts on Linkedin as well. You could easily find the right contacts in your companies of choice as they are likely using Linkedin. Finding them and having a means to connect with them could be invaluable. Facebook is becoming more popular as social networking site as well. Get yourself out there through social networking. It does not require a lot of time to set up or manage but can provide some great rewards if you use it.

In your research you may have found the names of department managers who you can send your resume too. The best thing to do is attempt to reach out to them. Call the company and ask for the person. If you can not reach the person ask for the department Administrative Assistant. They can be a valuable resource and very informative. What you want to do is find out who you can send your presentation to that will get it into the department and into the department manager’s hands. If you can not get it through to the Manager or Administrative Assistant, ask the operator who is the best person you can send it to and can you talk to them. You want to try and get an email address of someone you can send you information to. People generally check email multiple times a day but snail mail can stack up and collect dust. Out of sight becomes out of mind.

You have done all the planning for your campaign and are now in implementation mode. The last thing you want to happen is lose track of where you are at, who you talked to or who you sent your resume too. The last part of your campaign is to track your campaign’s activity. When sending out many presentations and talking to many people, it is easy to lose track of your activity. If someone calls you from XYZ company, you want to be able to know what you sent them, when and what it was for. You will sound much more prepared and more together if you are not caught off guard. This will support your ability to know what you are doing. An Excel spreadsheet works great to track your progress. You can set it up any way that works best for you but the minimum should be Company, Contact, Phone Number, Date, Reason for Contact and Notes. In the Notes you could put what you did and the time for your next action.

Searching for a new job is a full time job itself. It is not something people look forward to. It takes time, patience, tenacity and faith. If someone tells you no, it does not mean they do not like you. Do not take anything personally, get disillusioned or give up. Remember the steps:

  1. Determining what you want to do
  2. Who you want to do it with
  3. Searching your targets
  4. Putting together your cover letter, profile and resume
  5. Posting your resume
  6. Conducting searches and creating your search wizard
  7. Initiate your social networking
  8. Reach out to your targets
  9. Track your efforts

They are intended to get you started. Taking and following these steps gives you a roadmap. Discipline yourself to get started and have the momentum to keep you going.


Article courtesy of the Recruiting Blogswap, a content exchange service sponsored by, a leading site for college students looking for internships and recent graduates searching for entry level jobs and other career opportunities.

Good luck in your search.

Posted via email from AndyWergedal