September 05 2020 at 07:00PM
September 2020 | Across the Board: Some Timely Job Search Tips
Is it time for you to start looking for work? Here are some time-tested tips!
Tip #1 – Take Care of Yourself and Your Loved Ones
This is the most important tip. This should be paramount at all times, but you need your loved ones in times of crisis more than ever. And you need to be emotionally and physically fit to face this effort and be ready when the next job comes along.
Take a walk with your loved ones and treasure their company. Read. Garden. Learn to play the banjo. Finish those DIY projects you’ve been putting off. Meditate. Work out. You get it…
Tip #2 – Be Prepared!
Keep your resume and LinkedIn profile current. Ask yourself some simple questions:
- If you had to start looking for work, could you?
- Do your resume and profile accurately reflect your current work and job title?
- Does your overview section describe who you are and the kind of work you do?
- Do you need to tweak your work history to better align with your current goals?
Your LinkedIn profile and resume should be current enough that you can start a job search today if necessary.
When you are ready, switch your LinkedIn Profile to “Open for Work.”
Tip #3 – Don’t Forget that You are Marketing You
Your resume and LinkedIn profile are not technical specifications, they are marketing collateral. They should attract buyers and make them excited to reach out to you. Emphasize accomplishments and contributions. Don’t just inventory what duties and skills. I like to browse other people’s profiles and imitate what I think is effective.
Tip #4 – Give the LinkedIn Premium Account a Try
This is LinkedIn’s secret sauce. It’s free for one month and $29 a month after that.
After you have developed your LinkedIn profile, it’s time to focus on your list of skills. Think of your skills as your job search SEO.
As a Premium customer, when you look at a job description, it will tell you how many of your skills match what the employer wants and how you compare to other applicants. Groom your skills list over and over again until you are getting a high match and strong comparison scores. Don’t misrepresent yourself, just provide information employers and recruiters are looking for.
Tweak your resume and your profile to include these keywords. This will make it easy for recruiters to find you and to get noticed when your profile reaches a hiring manager.
Tip #5 – Develop and Practice Your Elevator Speech
Now all of that hard work you put in for tips 1-4 will pay off. After spending so much time getting those documents just right, you’ll be well prepared to perfect your elevator speech.
You must be able to describe your work and the type of work you are looking for in a very brief statement. Practice so you can speak it without stumbling, without jargon that only experts can understand, while sounding enthusiastic about yourself and what your next job could be.
Practice it on friends and family, while driving, while showering. You’ll get it right!
Tip #6 – Network! Network! Network!
Start building your network before you need to find a new job. The degree to which you have built both personal and professional connections with people indicates the strength of your network.
Speaking from my own experience, job leads I have gotten from people lead more often to job opportunities than online applications and job boards.
Some very simple tips to networking include:
- Make time for lunch or coffee with colleagues on a regular basis. Reach outside of your regular circle of contacts and make new friends.
- During the Covid-19 pandemic, do it over Zoom. I’ve had many amazing conversations this way, but you have to do it deliberately. It won’t happen by accident.
- Be a mensch! The relationship matters more than the transactional value of a connection.
- Join and participate in professional organizations. Meet people. Talk to them. Make friends. Practice your elevator speech. Listen to theirs.
- Volunteer your service! Your ability to show you have good judgment, good manners, people skills, and that you can be trusted goes a long way.
- Volunteer and network outside your professional circles too!
If you have not built your network, it’s never too late to start. But realize that this takes time, your relationships need to be genuine, and not having a network will slow down your job search.
If you are looking for opportunities to start networking, here’s the chapter’s list of events: https://pmisfbac.org/calendar.
Tip #7 – Ask for Informational Interviews
With a strong network, informational interviews should feel like an extension of what you already do. Let people know you are looking for work and spend some time on this topic. Start with friends and explore your options, ask for leads and connections. They’ll help you! Then look for people you would like to meet and ask for ½ hour of their time. Figure out who they are before you meet. Don’t just ask for a job – that will put them off. Share what you are looking for, what your values are, try to connect as a professional. Ask them for people you should meet and places you should look.
Tip #8 – Maintain Your Professional Demeanor
You need to keep your professional hat on to remain a viable candidate. Keep to a job search schedule. Keep communicating with colleagues. Carve out space from everything else in life, just as you need to do at work.
Tip #9 – Invest in Your Skills
Managers are very impressed at people who keep investing in their skills. You can take courses from UC Berkeley and Santa Cruz Extension, Golden Gate University, etc. LinkedIn Learning has many useful, low-cost opportunities. Google is offering programs through Coursera. MOOCs offer many, low-cost short-duration options.
Tip #10 – Form or Join a Support Group
I call this the weight watcher’s philosophy – knowing you will meet with other job seekers will motivate you to show progress. And you need each other. You can learn from them, help them, and form deep friendships in the process.
Our dear friend at Golden Gate University, Marie Spark, has been leading the San Francisco Job Search Round Table every fourth Tuesday of the month. The dates are on the chapter events calendar. You can contact Marie at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Tip #11 – Go Ahead and Apply Online. Consider the (Dubious) Value of Job Boards.
Notice that I have emphasized over and over again the human-to-human approach to your job search. This is a profoundly personal journey and people will make this survivable, and in the end even joyful.
Nevertheless, invest some time applying for jobs that suit you, either through LinkedIn or company websites. But take your time to study the job requirements. Take your time to carefully compose a cover letter. Limit how many jobs you apply for every day and how much time you invest in it. Otherwise, you risk falling into a depressing, time-sucking black hole.
My experience is that I’ve never gotten work from a job board. People would contact me with insulting pay rates, demand an answer immediately, and never get back to me. I don’t find this productive and won’t do it myself. I’d be curious to hear if other people have had better experiences.
On that note, feel free to reach out to me on LinkedIn! And while you are at it, keep building your network and setting yourself up for your next job.
Tim Bombosch, PMI-SFBAC Director at Large