Trying to make any kind of career shift can be incredibly frustrating, and through my current search I’ve found there are some dirty little secrets most people just don’t talk about when it comes to job hunting. Here are 7 unconventional, and helpful, things I’ve learned:
1. Everything is your resume (& other resume thoughts)
Your website, your emails, your email signatures, your business cards, your blog, your social media profiles… make them all consistent and flattering. You never know who might be looking at what. (Of course, taking full advantage of social media channels is an “understood” part of this tip.)
About “real” resumes, my biggest finding is this: don’t spend too much time sending resumes. Do you need an amazing two-page resume? Yes, to play the game (see #7), but that is really its only purpose. More than likely it will be a connection (see #6) that will actually catalyze the movement to get you an interview. But you will need a great resume to get there.
2. Have a target = “know thyself”
Know your strengths and know what you want. Have an elevator speech prepared to answer the question, “What do you want to do?” because you will get it. A lot. How can you hit a target if you don’t know what you’re aiming for?
How to do this? First, there’s a huge amount of information on the idea of personal branding online to research (download the two best articles I’ve ever read on personal branding here). Second, I’ve written extensively about strengths, and you can see my “elevator homepage” here.
3. Make it easy for people to help you
When emailing your “inside connections,” always include your latest resume so they don’t have to go digging for it. Also, develop a list of 3 target industries (and then a few company examples within those) for where you’d like to land. Counterintuitive as it sounds, making your desires more specific is what makes it easier for people to think of connections.
4. Set up search agents
Most large companies have web systems in place to create a profile and to search their open positions. Many of these also allow you to set up a “search agent” which will automatically email you new openings that fit your exact criteria as soon as they are posted. Love it.
5. Approach it all from a consulting perspective
Consultants come from the position of helping the company, which is the exact right perspective to have when trying to land a job. Hiring managers want to know what you can do to help them. To this end, ask the recruiter “What are the 3 key things you are looking for in this position?” so you can strategically tailor your interview prep.
The other benefit of this mentality is that consultants (ideally) take the jobs/projects they want — this is a tremendously helpful frame of mind to maintain through the grueling self-esteem “beatdown” that can accompany a job search. We’ve all heard it, but remember, try to interview them as much as they are you.
6. Say yes!
Meet with everyone, make new friends, join professional organizations, expand your circle and be a part of new groups. Search meetup.com for affiliations that make sense for you. Be nice to everyone, say thank you — A LOT — and always offer to help them. Don’t ask for a job, just be friendly, helpful, and ready to tell a very positive version of your story when asked.
7. Be ready to play the game
Whether you like it or not, getting a job at most companies is a complete game. You have to know the rules — and yes, some of them are outdated, nonsensical, or completely ridiculous — and you have to be willing to play by them.
My thoughts? Just make a note of what was most annoying to you… once you’re on the inside maybe you can help make it better, adding value to your new company!
What would you like to see changed about the way companies find, recruit, and hire people?
Any other tips you’ve come across that I missed?
Jargon is everywhere. Just like countries, every industry has its own language with terminology, slang, and catch phrases. Some of this is fine, maybe even good — it can help people within the tribe connect to each other and speak more quickly and accurately about things.
But in many groups these days, we have gone ridiculously overboard with our jargon, to the point where it is not helping anything, especially not our communication.
Take my field of Organizational Development / Human Resources (OD/HR), for example. Here’s a list of jargon I pulled from an email I received today:
All from one email.
Here’s the problem: outside of my field (hell, even INSIDE my field in many cases), to many folks this would be meaningless gibberish. And even for those “in the know,” my question is… does it have to be so complicated? Why can’t we just say what we need to without hiding behind a bunch of terminology?
Personally, too much jargon makes me wonder if folks really know what they’re even talking about.
As boundaries between industries continue to break down in the new economy, internal vocabularies across the board need to be simplified.
Take the iPad. Releasing this coming Saturday, this is a device that will obliterate even more barriers between technology and the news industry, and unlike the Kindle, also incorporates elements of traditional business (word processing) and entertainment (movie viewing and music listening) capability as well.
You’ll notice Apple NEVER uses complicated jargon to describe what the iPad does, or any of its other products for that matter. And they are in the technology business; one of the most complicated fields out there.
Making our communication simpler makes it more meaningful to more people. We should make it our goal to kill some jargon.
This morning, one of my regular check-in sites, Mashable.com, posted a link for a movie promo partnership they initiated with Cinemanow.com. They were giving away free digital copies of Terminator: Salvation. I’d never gotten a chance to see the movie, and I’m always curious about new streaming movie technology, so I thought I’d give it a shot.
If you’re not aware, I’m a tech savvy guy. A master programmer I’m not, but anyone who knows me will tell you I’m an honorary member of the Nerd Herd, and generally the go-to guy for computer issues. Well, from the moment I set foot on Cinemanow.com, this “simple movie download” was anything but simple.
First, I click the download button. It doesn’t work. So I think “browser problem” and move from Safari to Firefox, which gives me the following insightful error: “You must use Explorer or Firefox.” Um, really? Pretty sure I just did that. Back to Safari. The internet gods smile upon me and the button magically works this time, but now leads me to a “Download this software” page. It starts to download an .exe file — as worthless to my Mac as a clock in a DMV office. At this point I’m strongly considering giving up. Then I recall reading somewhere that you can use DivX, so I install DivX and reload the page. It now gives me an option to actually download the movie, which I consider to be a helpful step in the right direction of actually watching the movie. Unfortunately the DIvX player is clunky and flaky on my machine, but it seems to be working. I’m in business!
But is this a success? I’m not sure.
For any organization, this is the downside of the new economy: choices. Consumers have a nearly obscene number of options for places they can go to get whatever it is you do/sell/provide. I don’t really care what it is you do/sell/provide, with Google on the side of the customer, they can always find somebody else.
We don’t get many chances to get it right anymore. Most people will click the link to your free movie and when it doesn’t work, move on with their day and forget all about you.
Best to get it right the first time.