Your job search should be systematized with strategy and planning. Although certainly not simple, I believe it can be condensed into a 6-step process. In Part 1 of this two-part blog, I shared the first three steps. Here are the final three.
Step 4: Self-Market. In the job search, you are the product and the employer is the buyer. In the first three steps, it really has been about you. What you want, who’s out there that might fit that, and laying out your plan according to your wish list. Now, it’s time to promote. That means it’s all about what you can do for them. You can use the classic marketing approach here: the 5 Ps.
- PRODUCT. What do you offer? What key skills and attributes can you offer your “customers” (i.e. potential employers)?
- PRICE. What’s your value in the marketplace? Do your education, experience, skill sets and strengths qualify you as an elite or premium product? Are there factors (entry-level, career changer, gap in skills, lack of credentials or industry experience) that mean you will need to start “discounted” to get your foot in the door of your targeted industry?
- PROMOTION. What themes or messages convey what you have to offer professionally? What differentiates you from other candidates? What’s your unique value proposition? Your brand?
- PLACE. How will you distribute yourself on the market? Don’t rely on one method. Consider a multifaceted “logistics” of “delivering” your message. Potential strategies would be online job applications, career fairs, networking, social media sites, blogging and recruiters.
- POSITIONING. Consider your communications suite. Beyond the resume, this might include pitches, a one-page brief, biography, LinkedIn and social media site profiles, letters, etc.
Step 5: Practice talking. Do as many informational interviews as you can. It’s a dual research and networking tool. It’s also a great way to prepare for actual job interviews. Talk to folks inside or in the know with the roles or organizations you seek with questions like:
- What do you wish you knew then that you know now about the industry/field?
- Can you describe a typical day or week?
- What advice would you offer to someone trying to break into this industry/company?
- What do you like most/least about the industry? The job? The company?
- How would you approach a job search for this organization or industry?
- Could you recommend other colleagues (customers, vendors etc.) with whom I could speak? May I use your name?
All that you’ve done up to now is to get you to that interview. When you get there, are you ready? Have you researched the employer? Do you have questions for them? Are you armed with SMART success stories? Prepared to proactively address any skeletons or sticky subjects? Do you know how to connect, collaborate and close? Do you have a plan for negotiating compensation?
Step 6: Work your plan. Now put your planning into action. Delegate the time with specific to-dos. Ask for feedback from career professionals/advisors, those you’ve interviewed with, past colleagues or supervisors—anyone who knows you and your work, and will give you objective, constructive feedback to help you refine your approach and process. It’s important that you honestly self-evaluate. Here are some questions to ask yourself as you move through your six steps:
- What’s working? How might I do more of it or enhance it?
- What’s not working? Where or how can I improve it?
- Where might I turn for help, resources or expertise?
- How do I stay motivated and positive to keep momentum?
Having strategies and a plan is paramount to success in the job search. Broken down into manageable baby (but ordered) steps, challenges that seem overwhelming turn fear and unknowns into controllable action with a big return!