While the economy is improving and the threat of layoffs has somewhat subsided, many who have stayed in a job merely for “security” may now be wondering if this is the time to make a move. Regardless of why you may be looking for new employment options – desperation or inspiration – here are five principles to follow to ensure this move is one of the best experiences of your life!
1. Follow Your Passion! After an up-an-down career running small restaurants and eventually selling a service station at age 65 to be left broke, “Colonel” Harland Sanders sold his franchise, retaining a nickel for every piece of chicken sold and began traveling the country cooking chicken for restaurant owners and employees to convince them to open a KFC. Regardless of your age, take time out on a weekend, with limited distractions, to really focus on what your passion is. Ask friends and family to weigh in on what they think you are best at. The goal is to make money pursuing your passion and finding your calling in life. What you love to do doesn’t just have to be a hobby – make it the main attraction!
2. Create a Sound Search Strategy. If you’ve spent any time at all applying to “help wanted” ads online or in the newspaper, you know this is not a satisfying strategy. With current high unemployment and many who are employed just for a paycheck looking for something more, the competition for answering job postings is at a record high. At my current company, a very entry level job will sometimes receive several hundred applicants. Only allow answering online ads to be 10-15% of your strategy. Instead focus your time researching local companies you would want to work for. It is estimated over 85% of jobs are filled without ever being published, or when positions are publicly published, often times a candidate has already been identified and the company is only following procedure.Take charge and put yourself into the driver’s seat and work to create a position for a company that doesn’t yet know you are the answer to their problems!
3. Make Yourself Standout! Once you’ve identified your target companies, research decision makers within the company to find out which school they graduated from, what common organizations, non-profits, or other activities you may have in common. Prepare a resume for each company that is a 1-page sales brochure on why they would be crazy not to hire you. Find a creative way to deliver it that will be noticed. Just before Christmas one year I put together a gift basket with a Santa Clause and Rudolf Pez candy dispenser and an explanation as to why Santa was a true leader and Rudolf has only been known as a team mascot or manager. I was able to get the HR manager to call me back that day after other failed attempts. Career coach and author Dan Miller (www.48days.com) often talks about one of his clients who tied his resume around an ear of corn with a tagline of “this may be corny” and went on with additional quips like “aw shucks.” Assuming the hiring manager was reviewing a dozen or so applicants, who do you think stood out? Spend time thinking out of the box about who you are and what the company is looking for and you will find your own creative approach.
4. Remain “Top of Mind” to The Hiring Manager! Once you have their attention, keep their attention by continually adding value. Clip articles out of trade magazines and newspapers relevant to the position you are seeking and deliver them with a quick hand written note to the hiring manager. Something like “I just saw this article and thought of your company. I have experience with this issue and look forward to talking to you more about how I may be of assistance to your organization. Would Wednesday at noon or Thursday early morning be better for you? I will call today to make an appointment.” Each week, change up your approach. I’ve also seen delivering before/after examples of work you have done to provide a concrete example of the value you can bring to an organization to be very successful.
5. Be Patient, but Persistent! You don’t want a hiring manager to feel like you are stalking them, but you do want her to feel you are very interested and following the above steps will help her to know very quickly if you are a good potential fit for her team and organization. The care and detail will also show your qualities as an employee who cares and your creativity in problem solving.
Pursue multiple companies at once to keep your options open. This will also assist when you do receive multiple offers and you can then weigh what is going to work best for you and have more confidence in negotiating salary, benefits, time off, etc. instead of just “settling” for an offer because it is the only thing you have available to you.
Good luck! You’ll do great.
Peter Ferguson, Job Coach and teacher of “48 Days to the Work You Love” workshop and training.
Learn: Take time to understand what your true passion is and what career opportunities are available.
Act: Take a piece of paper, divide it into three columns and title the top of each column with the words “Problem, Action, Result.” Then inventory your past and fill in the blanks. This will help you write powerful action statements for your resume. For example: “Overcame $200,000 annual loss in revenue through implementing safety programs reducing insurance premiums and providing better job satisfaction for employees.” Then research companies within a 30 mile radius who could use your skills and where you can pursue your passion.
Share: Use the salesman “five foot rule.” Share your passion and desires and how you can achieve your goals with anyone who will listen. You will be surprised how many resources are just five feet away that you never would have discovered had you not just asked!
If you would like to take a deeper dive on how to find your true passion and match it with a fulfilling career, consider enrolling in the “48 Days to the Work You Love” workshop. In this six-week workshop, you will be guided through the steps listed above and work with others who are facing similar challenges. For more information, email me at email@example.com.