Sunday, March 21, 2010

Ctrl_Alt_Del: Time to Reboot Your Search?

So you’ve been engaged in your job search for some time and you’re getting discouraged. Lots (perhaps hundreds) of applications have been completed – online and on paper – and nary a word from the HR departments. Frustrating no? So maybe it’s time to rethink your approach; to reboot your search.

Let’s review your basic tools and how they’re being used in your search.

First off, your resume: How’s it working for you? Does it tell the story about the value you bring? Does it differentiate you from others or are you just part of the pack? Are you specific about what you’re looking for or do you show that you’re so desperate you’ll do anything? Are you leaving it up to the reader- whether HR or hiring manager – to figure out what your strengths are and how you can meet their needs? If so, that’s unfortunate, as they don’t have the time to figure out how you can fit in their organization.

Second, your online presence: Oh, you don’t have an online presence? You’re not on LinkedIn for example? Hmmm, how’s that been working for you? You should have, at minimum, a profile on Your LinkedIn profile should complement, not duplicate, your resume. Together, they help establish your brand. You can scoff about this “branding thing,” but the reality is if you can’t demonstrate unique value, you’re part of the pack; no way will you stand out in the current competitive market for talent. Moreover, recruiters, HR folk and hiring managers are relying more and more on online searches to identify potential candidates. If you’re not out there, you’re not there.

Third, your network: How’s it working for you? Are you connecting with the right people – that is, are you connecting with decision makers who can either hire you or point you in the direction of someone who can? Are you letting friends and former colleagues know specifically what you’re looking for? Are you telling them the right story about what it is you do best? Conversely, are you helping those in your network? Are you expressing an interest in their concerns and challenges, or are your conversations all about you? Remember, networking is a process, not an event.

Interviewing: Often a new client will tell me “if I can get in front of people, if I can get the interview, I know I can get the job.” Many clients will halt their search once they have an interview. “It went well,” they’ll say; “we really connected, it turns out we both went to the same college and we’re both big Rockies fans.” “So,” I’ll ask, “what are their big challenges (the company’s, not the Rockies)? What was it about your resume they liked? What do they look for in building their team (again, the company, not the Rockies)? What’s the next step? How did you follow up afterwards?” Blank stares.

If any of this sounds familiar, it may be time to reboot your search. Start over. Develop a resume that expresses the value you’ve accumulated. Make sure it tells the story you desire – where you want to go; not where you’ve been. Develop an online presence that complements your resume. Post a profile on LinkedIn and participate in the community. Join groups and participate in their discussions; answer questions that demonstrate expertise; build connections that matter. Develop your brand. Use and nurture your network. Connect with people you don’t already know; get to know them. Find out what their challenges are. Be seen as a resource. Connect them to others who might help them. Research the company before the interview. Know what their challenges are. Ask questions about how they intend to address these challenges. Tell brief stories about how you’ve addressed similar challenges. Be seen as a resource. Follow up. Don’t just send a thank you note, but reiterate how you’re the best candidate for the job. Note how your past experience and current skills fit what their looking for; be specific. Create your brand.

So, is it time to reboot your search? To develop new tools that are more effective; that tell your story and identify your brand?

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