Looking for Love, or Looking for a Job?

Ahh, February brings us Valentine’s Day. I enjoy the holiday if only because it gives me the opportunity to make subtle overtures to my husband when diamond commercials come on. It’s worth it to see that moment of panic in his eyes as he thinks, “Crap. All I got her was a “Hoodie-Footie.”

Since it’s the season to look for love, let’s turn our attention to job seekers. I often hear from candidates (entry to executive level) who say they don’t know where to begin their job search. I understand; it can be a daunting venture.

But it’s not as complicated as it seems. Here is a list of six things you can do to get started on finding that perfect match.

  1. Update Your Resume
    Before you pick up the phone and begin networking, make sure your resume is ready to roll. Not only are you going to need it, but updating it will be a helpful exercise as you consider your next move. You’ll quickly remember what you liked (and disliked) about past jobs, and reviewing your career history may help clarify what’s next.
  2. Figure Out What You Want to Do
    This happens to me on a regular basis:
    Candidate: “Hey Claire. I am on the market now and wanted you to keep me in mind for opportunities.”
    Claire: “Roger that. What exactly are you looking to do?”
    Candidate: “I’m not sure about that yet.”
    Claire: “Dude. Seriously?”Ok, I don’t really respond that way. But I want to. And that’s because you shouldn’t be searching for a new job until you actually have a sense for what you want that new job to be! Specifically, there are a few things you’ll want to nail down:

    Ideal role: Management? Digital marketing? Donor relations? Media relations? Litigation? It’s  okay to have an interest in more than one area; but if you have an interest in a half dozen areas, it might complicate your job search.

    Ideal sector: Nonprofit? Private? Government? Academia?

    Ideal location: Are you willing to relocate? If so, where? If you are happy to pack your bags but your spouse is not, please do your future self a favor and discuss that option now — not after you’ve received a job offer that requires a cross-country move!

  3. Determine Your Salary Requirements
    I know you’re chomping at the bit to start looking for jobs; but before you do, get your ideal salary dialed in. Employers are going to ask and you should be ready to share. Remember: there’s no need to marry yourself to one specific number; a rough range is fine for starters.
  4. Get on LinkedIn
    Not only do employers use LinkedIn to find and learn more about candidates, but it’s also a great networking tool for you to use on the job hunt. Make sure to connect with your friends and associates, as a minuscule number of connections implies you have a dormant profile (or don’t have any friends, but we know that’s not the case!). Also, it’s a good idea to have a profile that matches your resume. I sound I bit like Captain Obvious here, but you’d be surprised how many people have LinkedIn profiles that are inconsistent with their resumes. Finally, even if you’re not stoked about using LinkedIn, I strongly suggest you create a profile. I’ve heard employers express concern when a candidate cannot be found on LinkedIn. Is the person trying to hide something? Or is he not serious about networking/finding a job?
  5. Tap Into Your Network
    Now that you have an updated resume, salary requirements, and LinkedIn profile ready and you have a good sense for the job you are seeking, you can start tapping into your network. Make a list of the individuals you want to connect with and then call them or invite them to coffee/lunch (don’t forget to pick up the tab!). Give them a sense for what you want to do and ask them kindly for any suggestions/connections they might have. Finally, and perhaps most importantly, be very appreciative!
  6. Selectively Apply for Jobs
    ​Target your search on the roles that make sense for you. And don’t forget to utilize your network as you apply for positions. If someone knows you and the hiring manager well, you may want to ask him to casually put in a good word for you. Be careful about going overboard with this approach though; one too many calls or unsolicited letters of recommendation can work against you.

I hope these tips are helpful as you search for your next role. Now, if only dating were this simple…

Claire Dixon is executive director of Talent Market.  Attend her webinar on March 14 about how to avoid the top mistakes made by young professionals. 

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