4 Tips for the 2010 Job Search
There’s a lot of talk about jobs these days. Unemployment near 10% means everyone has either been impacted him- or herself by this down economy or knows someone well who’s lost a job. With this in mind, I have a few tips to share from my own very recent job search.
I should start by saying I got lucky. This is not to say I didn’t work hard to land my new gig as Global Employee Communications Manager with Burlington, MA-based Nuance Communications. But I got lucky in that there just happened to be a handful of attractive job opportunities in my very specific line of work at the exact same time I began my job search. Serendipity at work.
So, I began my job search in earnest in mid-February, and had 26 interviews over the following month. Yes, 26, I’m not kidding. With all that under my belt, I felt compelled to share a few key learnings and observations for those of you facing a layoff - or just looking to make a change.
Here are my top tips for you, fellow job-seeker:
- Revamp the ol’ resume. There’s plenty of info online on exactly HOW to do this, but one great tip I received from a recruiter friend was to drop the “Summary of Qualifications” paragraph at the top. I replaced mine with a “Notable Accomplishments” section just under the resume header, and there I pulled out the three achievements I really wanted potential employers to see. Make every word of your resume meaningful and important.
- LinkedIn is where it’s at. It’s been around for several years, but I know many still struggle to understand just how useful this tool is in the job search process. Hear me when I say it’s simply indispensable.
After I updated my resume in Word, I simply cut and pasted it, section by section, into LinkedIn to ensure I was lookin’ good in both places. Then, I did something that was not easy, but OH, was it fruitful: I swallowed my pride and humbly sent a request to a few dozen of my closest colleagues, asking for recommendations of my work. It was a low-pressure plea, but I ended up getting about a dozen recommendations of my recent work. I can’t tell you how much these helped me.
Suddenly, I was contacted by all sorts of people on LinkedIn who saw, through the site’s update feeds, that there had been a flurry of activity on my profile. Former colleagues, as well as hiring managers and recruiters, began reaching out to me to alert me to opportunities in my line of work. In many cases, these opportunities were not yet posted on any of the popular job board sites I’d been using, so I wouldn’t have discovered them without this viral activity on LinkedIn.
- indeed.com proved to be the most useful job board for my search. First, though, I had to figure out, all the myriad terms that can be used to refer to my line of work: not just “employee communications” as we’d used at Sun Microsystems, but also “executive communications”, “corporate communications” and “internal communications”. I also searched under subject areas (“social media”) and related jobs (“community manager”) that interested me.
indeed.com allows you to set search parameters beyond just the title, to include location, and even salary. I created two or three daily job alerts and received notice of new jobs in my areas of interest every day. When I came across jobs that looked interesting, but not quite right for me for one reason or another, I shared them. I did this by posting them to alumni groups for former colleagues, posting them to my Facebook profile - I’m sure there are many other places one could post such things. Spreading this kind of information in this economy is just the right thing to do, and it’s good karma.
- The behavioral interview was not the norm in my experience. A few years back, I feel like that style of interviewing was all you heard about when looking for a job. You know the type, with questions that start like “Tell me about a time where…” or “Please give me a specific example of when you had to…” Well, out of my 26 interviews, I would say that less than five were behavior-based interviews (but it may be worth noting that all five of those were final-round interviews). The good thing was that I’d prepared myself to answer behavioral-type questions, so in most cases, I felt as though I was over-prepared to answer questions that came my way. Truth is, most of my interviewers were much less formal and conducted the interview more as a conversation, as though they actually wanted to get a sense for who I was as a person, both inside and outside of work. This was great, because it allowed me to steer the conversation in a way that highlighted my strengths and major accomplishments, rather than sitting there like a deer in the headlights.
So, it seems I’ve had a happy ending, as I’m excited to start my next professional adventure in a couple weeks. My hope is that by sharing this information, others out there can get a leg up on their own job searches…one step closer to a satisfying next step, whether or not they’re currently employed.
Now, go dazzle ‘em!