Someone loses his job and the first bit of advise he is usually given is, “Bring your resume up to date”. The second bit of advice is, “Start networking”. Both are good advice but all too often the new job seeker will do exactly that without taking a step back to consider what, exactly, his resume should say, and who, exactly, he should be networking with.
The first bit of advice I give jobseekers is this: think strategically. Before beginning the actual process of looking for a job, which means preparing resumes, networking, having a presence in social media, even applying for an open position, jobseekers need to have a plan. That way all of the various components of the search fit together seamlessly and complement each other.
Here’s what I mean: jobseekers need to do some hard homework before beginning their search. They need to make an honest appraisal of their skills. They need to survey the market to see what kinds of positions are available for people with those skills, and how they stack up against the competition. For example, an individual in the technology field needs to be aware of the potential employers who are in the geographic area where the search is being conducted. He needs to see how his skills compare to others who are looking for similar positions, and how those skills match up to the skills which may be listed on job postings.
Jobhunters need to think of themselves as products and do a competitive analysis of themselves compared to others seeking similar positions. Then they need to determine what their key differentiators are—especially those differentiators that will resonate positively with potential employers.
A job search today can take a long time, so I encourage my clients to be realistic about this. My experience is that job hunters who expect their search to be lengthy are better able to keep positive and keep energized throughout the process.
A lengthy job search can also be costly, so one of the first things I suggest to clients is that they develop a budget for their search. Budgets can include a wide variety of expenses: coaching and resume development, clothing and personal grooming, and networking expenses, including travel, conference fees and business lunches.
Once a jobsearcher has completed these tasks, he’s ready to begin the hunt; he’s ready to begin preparing his resume and he’s ready to start networking because he has a plan: he knows what he needs to say in his resume that will be important to prospective employers; he knows who he should be networking with, so he can develop a plan to find those contacts; and he’s aware of the fact that the process may take some time, so he knows that he needs to pace himself accordingly.
A job search that is planned strategically can be faster and more effective and, in my experience, the jobhunter is more likely to find a position that matches his search criteria.
For more information on how to create and implement a strategic job search, check out my website, www.stanleywitkow.com.