Kendell Brown is a member of the iRelaunch Career Coaching team and our resident expert on resume-writing serivces for relaunchers. Founder of Ascension Careers and a relauncher herself, she works with clients with to ascertain and achieve their career goals via strategic planning, positioning and branding assessments, identifying transferrable skills and providing counsel for working through challenging work situations.
When we decide we’re ready for a new job – we’re ready for a new job, now. We’re high on anticipation and enthusiasm and we’re anxious to flex those job performance muscles. Unfortunately, our “ready-to-work” timeline rarely matches reality. Typically, the gusto wanes and we ask – “Why am I doing this to myself?” While I don’t have any magic solutions or shortcuts to make the job search process quicker or more enjoyable, here are a few ideas to help you recharge so you make it through.
1) Do Nothing!
Job searching, while exciting because you are setting a goal and taking steps to achieve it, it is also mentally exhausting. Just as you need to recover from a physically taxing workout, you need to rest from the strain of a job search. Take a solid 72 hours off. Restrain from the following: tweaking your resume, connecting on LinkedIn, scheduling networking coffees, practicing interview answers, etc. Allow yourself 15 minutes per day to check email to see if you got an interview or offer and follow up – but that’s it. Establish a “do nothing window” every three weeks, afterward you’ll feel refreshed.
2) Connect with 3 people - today!
Networking is your most fruitful job searching endeavor. However, it’s a task that is almost universally hated and therefore, it’s frequently avoided. So, approach it in bite-sized steps. Draft an outreach email and press Send. After reaching out to one person, you’ll realize how little effort it takes. So, go ahead and send a second. It’s so simple, send a third. But then stop, how many people can you send the same email? Typically, one-third of your reach outs will result in a response. Three is enough to yield a result and get you energized.
3) Read old performance reviews
They’re concrete evidence of your skills and capabilities. Additionally, they’re great source material for your resume and LinkedIn profile...can’t remember the details of that launch, how much your performance exceeded expectations, the number of clients you managed per year – turn to the review. Perhaps you’ll be reminded of projects and responsibilities, you’d forgotten you had. Who did your manager contact to complete the review or any "360 degree" evaluations? Find those people on LinkedIn and connect. Lastly, performance reviews are written in glowing terms. If people recognized it before, they’ll recognize it again, so take these words to heart and use them to build up your confidence in your skills and abilities.
4) What's your reason?
Although, it seems far off, the day will come when you are on the other side of the job search. Focus on what’s next. Are you going back to work out of necessity? The income will pay bills, increase savings, reduce stress. Are you going back to work to fulfill some delayed goals? It’s time to prioritize you and pursue your ambitions. Are you going back to work to be something other than parent or caregiver? Won’t it be fun to have an identity that is all about you? Whatever it is that motivated the job search – reminding yourself of the why, is empowering.
5) Figure out the logistics
What if that offer comes and you’re not prepared? Take the time now to ensure that you and your household are really ready for you to return to work. There will be tons of change when you start working...implement the changes little by little now, so that when the day comes, there’s less upheaval. What are you going to do with the kids? Investigate caregiving responsibilities – can the kids or elders get set up somewhere now? Will you need the older kids or siblings or spouses to step up? Start those conversations, assign them chores and responsibilities today, so they can be comfortable with the new set of expectations. All those back-burner tasks: scheduling doctor appointments, painting the kitchen, etc. – if you wait too long, you’ll have to use precious vacation days to get them done. Knowing you’ve got the home front handled, builds “readiness” and restores your momentum.
6) Connect with a coach
Are you following the advice of family and friends and it’s getting you nowhere? When was the last time your dad was job hunting? What does your best friend know about the job landscape of your chosen field? Get a fresh set of eyes on your resume. Engage an outsider to help you craft your story. A career coach knows what it takes to get hired. Leverage the expertise of someone who knows what makes for an enticing LinkedIn profile, a well-crafted resume and interview answers that lead to job offers. An effective coach can be the catalyst you need to rejuvenate the job search.
7) Practice interviewing
As we all know; the hiring process can often be painfully slow. However, there are those occasions when the hiring timeline is significantly shortened. You can get a call about an interview in less than 48 hours. What are you going to say “Can I get some extra time; I haven’t gotten to interview prep in my job search timeline?” Of course not, you’re going to accept the interview and then get super stressed! Instead, start practicing your answers now, so you’ll be interview-ready at any time. Wouldn’t it be nice to get that call and say to yourself - “Great, I just got an interview, let me review what I want to say.”
8) Address your red flags
It may seem counterintuitive. Why spoon feed an employer a reason
not to hire you. However, if you’ve been searching and nothing’s
happening – it’s time to face facts. Are you applying to a job that’s
essentially a promotion? You found the perfect role – it’s a senior
manager position and your prior title was an assistant manager. Use a
cover letter to say that despite the title discrepancy, you have
experience doing the highest priority responsibilities listed in the job
posting. You need to proactively address an employer’s biggest
concern about you. Otherwise, they will unfortunately focus on the negative and move on.
9) Get social savvy
At this point, everyone knows they should have a LinkedIn profile. But so many job seekers don’t have a LinkedIn profile. So, my advice is “move from the knowing to the doing”! (Don’t forget the professional headshot.) But don’t stop there. Delete inactive accounts, it’s best to have a few well curated accounts. Employers will Google you – use the highest privacy settings available if you use social media to share strong, divisive and/or controversial opinions.
10) Upgrade your hard & soft skills
Show tangible commitment to your search, take online classes, get new degrees and certifications, etc. Additionally, utilize your current skills in new arenas. You’ve got prior PR experience working for a marketing firm. Try writing grant proposals for a non-profit. Gaining hard skills is valuable, but employers are always keen to find someone with strong soft skills. In your every day activities and interactions work on developing a few key skills like – collaboration, consensus building and teamwork. These traits are highly valued and bonus - they are industry, function and title agnostic.