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5 Things I Wish I Knew When I Started My Job Search

Knowing that hindsight is 20/20, here are some insights that relaunchers have shared during and after the completion of a successful job search.

By Mary Beth Barrett-Newman

Mary Beth Barrett-Newman is President of 2nd Career Consulting and a member of the iRelaunch Coaching Team. Mary Beth spent almost 30 years in the corporate world and brings her experience, expertise and enthusiasm as she coaches clients on their journey to a new position. Many relaunchers know Mary Beth from the iRelaunch Return to Work Facebook Forum Group which she frequently moderates. She has written numerous blogs for iRelaunch and was featured on our "3, 2, 1, iRelaunch" podcast: "A Deeper Dive Into Interviews - How to Answer the Toughest Questions" and "Job Searching During the COVID-19 Pandemic."

Knowing that hindsight is 20/20, here are some insights that relaunchers have shared during and after the completion of a successful job search.

1) Pace yourself – a job search is a marathon, not a sprint

Rather than starting your search by spending hours applying for jobs online and getting few or no results, develop a plan. Think of your job search as a project you’re managing. The key is to not only have an overall structure to your plan but to also set measurable weekly goals, keeping you accountable. Periodically look and see what activities are producing the best results. Results aren’t just interviews and job offers, but also introductions, updated industry information, feedback on how to close any skill gaps, etc. At the end of each week, evaluate your activity. What did you do this week to move your job search forward? What do you need to do (differently) next week?

2) A job search is an emotional roller coaster ride

You just left an interview feeling you knocked it out of the park and really connected with the hiring manager. Two weeks later you receive a rejection email; or worse, you hear nothing! The highs and lows of a job search are inevitable, but often take job seekers by surprise. It’s easy to feel angry or even feel that they took advantage of you. But if you stick to the plan developed in #1, you will get other interviews and find a position in a company that’s a “right fit.” Most job seekers look back and realize that the offer they eventually did receive and accept is a much better opportunity that the ones they lost out on.

3) Networking works ... for real!

Years ago, a client with a seven-year career break landed a new position. After she accepted the position, I asked for feedback on her search process. She shared what I’ve heard from many others: “I wished I’d reached out to my former colleagues earlier in my search.” Her former boss had left the firm where they both worked and was working in the finance department of a large healthcare system. It was through this connection that she relaunched her career as a financial analyst. Most people, whether relaunchers or not, find opportunities through networking. As part of the plan you developed in #1, include weekly networking goals including reaching out to former colleagues.

4) Do your homework, be overprepared

Given the wealth of information available, employers expect a lot from today’s job seekers. Don’t ask questions that you can easily find answers to yourself. Really look at that job description and be able to discuss bullet by bullet what you’ve done and what you can do to help the employer. Some candidates create a spreadsheet with this data and share it with the future employer. Do the same with your resume. This is your life; you need to be able to speak succinctly to everything on it. If you don’t remember it, don’t include it. Having ideas on or even outlining a 30/60/90-day plan shows the employer not only how you think but that you are proactive and resourceful. Put yourself in the employer’s shoes. Think about their needs, not yours. Show how you can solve their problems.

5) Follow-up and thank everyone

Don’t be afraid to follow-up. This includes not only those involved in the interview process, but also the person who promised an introduction or to pass your resume along to a recruiter. It shows that you are interested and assertive. You can’t thank too many people. Include those involved in an in-person interview, phone interviews, people you networked with, etc. Sending those thank you emails is critical. And lastly, when you do land a position, send a thank you to everyone who helped you along the way. This will help strengthen your network relationships for the future.

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