The number one mistake I see people make when job searching is lack of focus. The late George Harrison said it best, “If you don't know where you're going, any road will get you there.” Besides being a catchy tune, it’s a significant point in the world of careers.
So where are you going?
If the answer to the question is, “anywhere,” you’re probably already there.
If the answer to the question is, “I don’t know,” let me suggest a few key tips to help navigate your search in the right direction.
First: Discover the destination
In order to find the most fulfilling work, it’s imperative to concentrate on finding the RIGHT career — not just “any career.” Begin by thinking about what makes you, you!
Essential factors to consider include:
- a role that leverages your unique talents
- a culture fitting to your personality
- working in an industry that piques your interest
- a location that makes sense for your lifestyle
- a company with the potential for growth
Throughout my 15+ years working in HR and as a career coach, here’s what I’ve come to realize: too many people, all too often find themselves feeling stifled in a career that just doesn’t fit.
Whether it’s from forcing themselves into an uncomfortable pair of shoes and a stiff pantsuit because it portrays a particular image…
Or dragging themselves into a regimented, dull office that stifles creativity…
Or feeling paralyzed from staring at a computer screen until 6 pm every night because it’s taboo to leave before their boss…
Or from the guilt that weighs on their heart from leaving their puppy home alone for 10+ hours each day…
Or from the constant judgment of their work results displayed on a red—yellow—green colored scorecard at each team meeting…
Or…..you get the point…
I get it. I’ve seen it, felt it — and heard it all.
To me, working in a career that doesn’t fit is like a princess working on Wall Street. Can you picture Cinderella working on the floor of the New York Stock Exchange — her blue and white gown, perfectly applied makeup, puffy blond hairstyle and overall presence among all the dark blue pantsuits?! Yeah, me neither.
I’m not saying careers are all about magically going from scrubbing factory floors to dancing in fancy corporate boardrooms...although I do believe there are practical ways to move toward a career path that fits perfectly, like Cinderella’s glass slipper.
It breaks my heart when clients share stories of applying to hundreds of jobs without ever receiving a response. The online job market is saturated. Stop wasting your time and energy applying to hundreds of jobs as your applications fall into a deep black void.
Use your valuable time to explore companies that could be a great fit.
- Leverage LinkedIn to follow influential leaders and learn about what they stand for — can you relate to them? Do you agree with their messages? This is critical data to gather when job searching
- Search Glassdoor to discover potential companies and read authentic employee reviews
- Seek out an industry expert and set up an informational interview. You’d be surprised at how much you can learn from an expert through a strategically planned informational interview
- Bonus! As you explore, you’re building your community and making new connections. This could lead to a referral when applying for a job which is the BEST way to get your foot in the door with a new company
Use this crucial data to investigate prospective paths and ultimately narrow your search to the TOP 3-5 companies that match you and your career aspirations.
Third: Create a roadmap
It’s easy to get thrown off course by blockades and dead ends. A daily practice can make the path much more drivable. Craft a methodology and process that works for you.
- Daily planning — commit at least 1-hour a day to your search
- Dedicated space — where do you do your best work? Find a comfortable and enjoyable space
- Tools — leverage technology to your advantage by creating a tracking tool to measure progress
- Accountability — what systems can you put in place to hold yourself accountable and meet your goals?
Fourth: Establish your brand
Make it as easy as possible for the recruiter to know you’re the perfect person for the job.
- Refresh your resume and online profiles to illustrate how you want to be perceived
- Not sure how to start? Spoiler alert — job descriptions have ALL the answers!
- What problems does the company need you to solve? Share your experience, enthusiasm, and energy to solve them
- Use language from the job description in your resume and cover letter
- Reflect the tone of the company — is it a modern, hip start-up? Or a more established and conservative organization?
If your resume indicates you’re a UX designer and a project manager and a marketing leader, these are all fabulous skills and transferable in certain instances....although a recruiter will be perplexed.
*Special note to all you multipotentialities out there — I hear you — you have several prospective career paths, but trust me on this one: when applying to jobs, pick one to focus on!
Lastly: Don’t be afraid to stop and ask for directions
You don’t have to go it alone. You likely pay a contractor to paint your house, or hire a tour guide when exploring a foreign region, why wouldn’t you invest in professional help with your job search? Career coaches provide objective guidance, help to articulate your value, and provide a proven structure to keep you on course.
Most people spend more time planning a vacation than planning a job search. And you need a map to get you there, once you know where “there” is. So, focus on finding the right destination, explore and plan accordingly, ask for help and you’re more likely to land comfortably in your next best job — and avoid those costly and disappointing U-turns.
“If you aim at nothing, you’ll hit it every time.”
–Zig Ziglar, noted motivational speaker
Jenn gets what companies are looking for when hiring top talent, it’s what she does. As a former talent acquisition and HR leader whose experience spans more than 15 years across multiple industries – including Fortune 200 companies – she has recruited, coached, and hired hundreds of early-career professionals into positions ranging from human resources, finance, and engineering, to IT, sales, and operations.
And now we are thrilled to have Jenn join us at team Viviano Media Co.! She is going to channel her incredible skills for the women within Recruit the Employer alongside Jena. We couldn’t be more excited about this opportunity to serve each of our clients more deeply with the addition of Jenn to the team! Jenn is a career crusader on a mission to support early and mid-career professionals navigate the new world of work by resetting boundaries and igniting action to live their happiest, healthiest lives. You can find out more about Jenn at Flourish Careers.
How to Keep Focused and Stay Motivated During Your Job Search
March 26, 2020