It’s just different these days.
Gone are the 30-year careers with one company followed by the party and the gold watch. The world of work is changing now, if it hasn’t already. Today – many more professionals are consultants, contractors, or entrepreneurs by choice. This may seem risky and unstable to some, but layoffs in the 90’s and 2000’s have shattered the myth of stable and long term employment. In turn; the world of job search has changed.
It used to be that you got ticked off at your boss, got laid off or fired, posted your resume and started looking for your next gig. It’s a pretty reactionary strategy that doesn’t work so well today.
Today it’s not about job search. It’s about career management. The savvy professional constantly makes new connections and evaluates opportunity. It’s not a resume. It’s a career profile. Looks similar, but the difference in approach and methodology is everything. These subtle shifts are critical to those who successfully navigate a successful career.
I’ve worked with hundreds if not thousands of job seekers over the years. It’s fun, challenging, and at times, outright frustrating. I’ve learned a lot along the way and here are a few recommendations based on experience:
linkedin profile: Spend 10 minutes a week on Linkedin. Update your profile, review potential connections, and join relevant groups to expand your network. It’s free, easy, and increasingly more important. There are tons of online help and resources to help guide you so no need to spend money to have someone develop your profile. Best of all… It’s 10 minutes a week!
Job boards: Yep – they’re a dinosaur. Yaa… online apply sucks. Take it for what it is and turn it to your advantage. Job aggregators like indeed.com and simplyhired.com (among others) can provide a wealth of info on who’s got active roles open. This is great but take it a step further. Signing up for job alerts is free and easy. It’s a great way to stay in tune with what the market (your industry) is doing. Look at new jobs within competitor companies, or companies you’d like to one day work for. The time per day to review your auto email is maybe 30 seconds. Small price to pay for career and industry knowledge. I have a number of alerts set up, and it’s a great way to get intel without a lot of work.
Be social: Make yourself visible online. Your job search will be considerably more robust if you are easy to find. There are ton’s of recruiters out there – make yourself visible. Online is a great way to connect with peers and professionals around the world who may one day have an impact on your career. This can be an extremely powerful way of making connections but connections are not enough. Connections are not relationships and relationships are where it’s at. Which brings me to the next, dreaded, point…
Be social (The other kind): This is hard, scary, and takes an investment of time. You have to meet people – For real! This is where a connection moves to a relationship. Quite simply, the deeper the relationship you have with someone, the more likely you are to go the extra mile for that person. We’re all busy, and have to manage our time, but I regularly take brief coffee meetings to meet common connections or referrals. I’m selective of course, but sometimes opportunity comes from the most unexpected places. Sometimes it’s great, sometimes it’s a bust, but… it’s always worthwhile. Too aggressive?? Start with local peer meetings or organizations – If nothing else you usually walk away with knowledge and it’s a pretty safe environment if you’re hesitant to dive into person-to-person networking.
Know a Recruiter: Or better yet – know a few! How do you know the good ones? Good question! It’s based on referral, reputation, intuition, and a little luck. I’m not looking for a job – I like what I do, but I have regularly engaged peer recruiters every time I’ve thought about making a change in career direction or strategy. I find real value in these relationships and by being challenged by peers, have sidestepped a few potentially career landmines. If you view the relationship as a career resource vs. a means to get a job when you are on the hunt – your relationship will be enhanced.
There are many more strategies and resources to enhance career management, but this should get you started! So all in all it’s a shift from reactive job search to proactive career management. The world of work continues to change and we all need to adapt. With some minimal, but consistent, attention to your career, you’ll be surprised where it can take you!