You graduated in the summer or maybe the year before. It was a sunny day, your family and friends shared the enjoyment of your success and that sense of achievement mixed with relief left you on a high. Now the leaves are falling, the days are shorter and the gloom is closing in. That job you hoped to leap into has not materialised, you took something low-level and short-term or the job you have is turning out to be less than you thought. It’s time to fire up your job and career search, but how?
Searching for a job and exploring career options are time-consuming. So you might as well give them the attention they deserve if you want things to change. Think of it as a six months project complete with milestones, activities and indicators of your progress. You are unlikely to be starting from scratch and can start by mapping in what you already have in place.
Here are 5 strategies for firing up your job search if it’s faltering:
Be more visible
- Who knows you are looking? Tell people what you are looking for or interested in and make yourself memorable.
- Map out your network and identify your raving fans who would do anything for you. Some of your friends may already be in great organisations – they can refer you! A hiring manager hearing ‘you’ve got to see, Emma, because she’d be perfect for…!’ is a whole lot warmer than a job board.
- Speak to alumni from your university in roles, sectors or industries that interest you.
- Ensure your social proof online is up to date (recommendations, portfolio, presentations).
- Go to events. For example, I recently attended a professional development event at a university for the local branch of the Chartered Institute of Marketing where 200 people turned up – a mix of undergraduates, recent graduates, CIM members, academics, and employers. You’ll learn something new and maybe have a chance meeting that sparks an exciting idea or opportunity to follow.
- Do a talk at your local networking group, for example, Junior Chamber International or give something back at your university.
Be more Social
You leave a digital footprint wherever you tread online. Make it count by putting your best foot forward. Set up a personal website like about.me. Start blogging. Interview someone in a job relating to an area that interests you. Promote it in a podcast or a blog. Get talking more on LinkedIn, Twitter, Facebook etc. Clean up your digital dirt because employers do look.
Be more curious
- I can’t stress enough the importance of doing your research. Find out what technical skills specific employers require and fill that skills gap if you have one. That might mean nightschool once a week, an online course or some volunteering. Get better at something that matters to you!
- Be an investigative reporter and get clued up on relevant organisations and sectors so you are prepared when the opportunity arises. Keep up to date on topical and sector-specific news.
- If you are not sure what you want, consider mixing and matching your interests with paid work under one umbrella. For example, you might be someone who has fundraising skills and experience with a keen interest in nutrition or studied accountancy and love sport. What options would open up if you combine the two? Think about transferable skills and transdisciplinary combinations. Be a problem-solver – what business need or problem is out there where your unique profile would be a great match? Could you provide it as a freelancer or set up a business yourself?
Be more HD
Differentiate yourself from the crowd at job interviews by reflecting on your strongly-held beliefs about common workplace requirements, for example, working in a team. Don’t just trot out the usual stuff about what you did in a team. Be seen in higher definition rather than two-dimensions and say what’s important to you about great teamworking (such as contributing to the success of your teammates). Say what you have learned from experience about teamworking to show your commitment to personal development.
Be more confident in your value
- I met a recent graduate who was applying unsuccessfully for non-graduate jobs and getting feedback from the employer that a non-graduate candidate was a better fit. Getting into an organisation somewhere is OK because being in work is infinitely better than no work. There is always value in every step of your working life, even if it doesn’t feel like it at the time. However, don’t let that stop you from continuing to apply for positions at a more appropriate level that is a better fit for your abilities and potential.
- See the situation you find yourself in as a temporary staging post along the way to finding who you want to be. Look for experiences rather than job titles. Carve out the time to create the focus that will drive your actions.
- Keep your interests up – Picasso never set out to be famous, he just kept painting for himself and created more than 50,000 works of art in his lifetime. Valuing yourself is as important as your value to an employer.
Your working life is a marathon, not a sprint. You wouldn’t run 26 miles without getting fit and it’s the same with the job and career search.
Don’t settle for less, keep putting the effort in and get fired up! And if you want someone to be alongside to help you succeed, please get in touch.