Lessons Learned – Job Search StrategiesMay 24, 2012 by William Frierson
Over the past decade, I have had the privilege of working with a range of organizations, from some of the world’s largest and notable engineering firms to the smallest non-profits. Since I first entered the job market, times have changed. When I look back on my professional experiences and job hunts, I realize that in one 7 year period, I worked for 5 companies from New York City to Chicago on over $100 million in projects. I marveled at the variety of companies and projects that I had worked on as well as the resolve it had taken to secure and add value at all of them. In the end, I discovered some common threads and themes that I found worth sharing which helped me. And in this article, I have decided to share the lessons I believe any student facing graduation with or without a guaranteed position in their future would benefit from.
We’re living in rapidly shifting times. Here are some eyebrow-raising realities to consider about jobs today. The top ten in-demand jobs in 2010 did not exist in 2004! We’re currently preparing students today for jobs that don’t yet exist. The U.S. Department of Labor estimates that today’s learner will have 10-14 jobs by the age of 38. And these are just a few mind-blowing thoughts to ponder. As these trends and new ones arise, it will be important to determine what your pathway to job security is going to be. What worked last year may not work this year. With this in mind, we need to determine those timeless attitudes of mind and technical approaches that are necessary to succeed in the ever-shifting job market.
First, remember that your job hunt is your first job. START WORKING BEFORE YOU START WORKING. Approach your job search with the same level of commitment you will bring to an organization when you’re hired. The truth is that before someone at your next company begins supervising or managing you, YOU are your own supervisor and manager. And you must be willing to ask the question, “If I were my supervisor or manager right now would I be pleased with the work I’m doing?” The answer to this question will tell you whether or not you need to bring yourself and your activities to another level of intensity.
Here’s how to get serious:
1. Determine the number of interviews you want to have. 1,3,5,10…whatever number inspires you to take action. I would recommend as easy workable number like 5 for starters.
2. Decide where you really want to work. Are you sure the companies you are applying to will be the kind of companies you’ll be happy working for? Send resumes to organization presidents & HR managers whose work, vision, mission, and goals align with yours and track how many responses you get via email, hard copy letter etc. Some companies will tell you, “We’ll keep your resume on record.” Fine. Just make a note of it. (During my job searches I kept an Excel spreadsheet of all my activity so I wouldn’t fool myself about this.) If it’s a company that you truly want to work with, call them on their bluff and say, “Since you’re going to keep my resume on file for the future, I’d like to meet with you so you can get a real sense of who I am and vice versa…” This is a bold move so take whatever response they give you. Some may say yes, some may say no. It doesn’t matter. What matters most is that you generated the courage to make the request. In the end you want to begin keeping statistics on what your response rate is. This will empower you on your quest for a job.
3. Ask, do you have the right recruiting team? How many recruiters are working for you? Check your recruiter base. In other words, identify and get in touch with 5-10 recruiters & make sure they’re forwarding your resume for you so you’ll get the number of interviews you want. Follow up. Recruiters can be forgetful so it’s key to touch base and let them know you’re involved. Also, do your research on which recruiting firms will be best suited to place you based on your field of work.
4. Work your network. What events are happening that you can plug into? Create a networking schedule for yourself. Do you have enough of a pipeline of meetings or events to attend to create a buzz about yourself and your interests? Are you meeting the leaders in your field? As a self-marketing professional you have to be your own booking agent for events that will provide you with the best and most effective contacts and exposure.
5. Put your mentors to work. Are your mentors working for you? Reach out to your mentors and their contacts. How many contacts can you get from your mentors? You can be very intentional and ask your former professors, mentors, and colleagues for contacts and create a goal of how many to get. Let them know that you’re playing a game to reach out to 3 or 5 or 7 people who could be future employers, mentors, or collaborators in your job search.
6. Track your actions. How do you keep track of who you’ve met, where you met them and when you’ll be calling them next? Keep your own database of who you’ve emailed, called, met at the coff ee shop etc. Capture any conversation or interaction you have with someone about your future position somewhere you can easily reference. Again, this is what my spreadsheet was used for.
7. Be your own professional promoter. Do you have business cards on you right now? Make business cards for yourself. Although you do not have a “job,” remember your actual job at this current moment is marketing yourself. Therefore, do the work required to market yourself by having cards that have your name, field of interest or major, phone number, email and website. This lets employers and recruiters sense your seriousness about your career.
Searching for a job is part art, part science, and all tenacity. It’s a difficult job market, so you have to work harder and smarter to land a job. The good news is that when you approach your job search like a job, you will feel empowered and know that you’re exhausting all possibilities. Ultimately, the process will make you tougher and smarter—and you’ll be well prepared for the challenges of your new job.
For more information on the details on how to have all of these bases covered, please visit www.projectengineersplus.com or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
By: Nnabuihe Maduakolam
Contributor: Life After Graduation, LLC
Article courtesy of the Recruiting Blogswap, a content exchange service sponsored by CollegeRecruiter.com, a leading site for college students looking for internships and recent graduates searching for entry level jobs and other career opportunities.
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