With what seems like a daily barrage of news about job changes, highly competitive recruiting and rapidly escalating compensation, you may be considering a career move. Or perhaps you’ve found yourself hitting a promotion wall and realizing that the key to advancement was looking outside your current employer. Alternatively, you might not intend to leave your current job but want to test the waters and validate that your skillset and how you present it are relevant and valuable in the open market.
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Whatever the case, finding a new job can be a stew of mixed emotions, ranging from validation that your skills are in demand to stressful days waiting for a response after an interview. I recently went through this process, ultimately landing a job that I’m excited about, with a great team, in a new and growing industry. Here are some tips that I found helpful during my journey, targeted at tech leaders and other knowledge workers.
Consider yourself a product
It might sound crass or even a bit dehumanizing, but think of yourself like a product that’s competing with dozens or even hundreds of similar products. What are your features and benefits? How will you market them? Who would be most interested in buying what you have to offer?
This thought process should inform your key marketing materials, mainly your resume and LinkedIn profile. For the former, I replaced a four-page wall of text that recounted everything I’ve done over my 20-year career in painstaking detail with a professionally designed, visually appealing one-page resume that was designed to hook the reader and make them want to find out more. Similarly, I used my LinkedIn profile as a teaser rather than a micro-novel about everything I’ve ever done.
Try to suppress your natural vested interest in your welfare and regard all your external marketing tools like a recruiter or an interviewer might. Would you put your resume in the callback pile after a 20-second glance or quickly put it in the no bin? After reading your LinkedIn profile, do you want to find out more, or did you lose interest after the first sentence?
One frequent bit of advice given to job seekers is to diligently study the company and job description and tailor your interviews and interactions to what you believe the company is seeking. I believe this is precisely the wrong advice for people later in their careers.
Consider what this approach entails: presenting yourself and your skills as something different than what they are in reality. Most of us can modify our personalities and tweak how we show our experience to fit a mold and land a job, but in the long run, you’ve essentially landed in a position that’s not a natural fit. This square-peg-in-a-round-role effect may pay the rent, but it’s not a recipe for long-term success and satisfaction with your job.
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Instead, be the professional version of your true self. This will ensure that the company knows exactly what it’s getting and ensures there’s a good fit between you and the organization, versus both parties feeling buyer’s remorse down the line when everyone realizes you forced yourself into the wrong role.
Nos are your metric of progress
No one likes being told no, but this is the crucial measure of your progress in your job search. If you receive a dozen nos, you’re a dozen steps closer to a yes. If you’re not getting told no, then you’re not actively searching and applying enough diligence to the effort to get to the point where someone is making a decision. It’s hard, but try to celebrate each no as a marker of progress toward your ideal yes.
Find your networking style
Everyone tells you to network as part of your job search because it’s one of the most effective ways to connect to a potential job. However, there are different ways to network that can be adapted to your unique style and personality.
I have a friend who speaks to hundreds of people each month, with a “production-grade” approach to networking that involves dedicated time slots and rigorous tracking. This approach works perfectly for him but is untenable and a recipe for burnout for me. Instead, I regard networking conversations as an excuse to catch up with old friends and colleagues, and I might have 3 or 4 meaningful conversations each week.
Do what’s comfortable for you, but do ensure you’re speaking with friends and former colleagues, updating them on your latest experience, and letting them know you’re looking to make a change. In the worst case, you’ll catch up with an old friend and get their take on the job market. In the ideal case, you’ll find new connections or even a potential job.
Make job searching your job
Successfully landing a great new job is not easy, even in the current hot job market. Be prepared for three to six months of diligent effort, with several hours each week invested in networking, applying, interviewing and dealing with the highs and lows that a job search entails.
Consider the investment commiserate with the goal—you’re attempting to find a role where you’ll be spending most of your waking hours, potentially for several years.
With some minor shifts in thinking and some good old-fashioned hard work, you can likely find a new role that fits your personality, skills and interests and is financially rewarding.