Many (myself included) have used the terms job search and job hunt. It’s a bit misleading. Are you in a job search? If you answered “yes,” please rethink it. My client Angie did just that recently. Although we had discussed the semantics, her epiphany came while watching a television piece on the churning of the 2012 presidential campaign. Right after her light-bulb moment, she called me chirping, “Getting hired is so much more than a search! It is a campaign. I’m a contender with competition. I want to be voted in. I want to be the candidate of choice! Yes, I am searching! But it’s more than that!”
Job Search Campaign: Get clear with definition
By definition, a search refers to looking through an area in order to find something missing or lost. In contrast, a campaign pertains to a systematic course of aggressive activities for some specific purpose, i.e. a sales campaign. “Yep; you’re selling you to the voters, Angie,” I said.
Job Search Campaign: Parallels to politics
An election is really a very expensive job campaign. The candidates decide to apply for the open slots. They tap a need, put together a strategy, and contact their network. They spread their marketing communications through social media and other distribution outlets. Many go door to door. They interview. They participate in events where hopeful prospects field questions, undergo final interviews and anxiously await decisions. Sound familiar? The principles align, whether you are running for U.S. President, another office, or for a role as Quality Assurance Manager as Angie is. As a candidate, you are creating a solid case to get the vote!
Job Search Campaign: Make it happen
A key common denominator in career and political campaigns is planning and action. A politician never says, “I’m running for any job.” Know what you can do and what you want. Track and measure your progress. Adjust the plan as necessary. Maybe you’ll have to take a bridge job, as George H.W. Bush did, holding jobs as CIA director and vice president before becoming president. Neutralize obstacles. Move forward.
- Believe and keep the faith. Back in 2007, Hillary Clinton was her party’s favored presidential candidate. Obama was confident he could do the job. He convinced millions of Americans of the same. When Obama won in 2008, Hillary did not get the coveted role. Although surely disappointed, she moved forward in the role of Secretary of State. You will not always be the chosen one. Don’t burn bridges and move on.
- Have a platform. Know your voters (employers). Research their past and present. Learn about the key players. What’s their pain? When you talk to them, correlate what you can do for them directly linked to that pain. Obama convinced enough voters that the U.S. needed a change, what it was, and that he was the one who could make it happen.
- Stay on message. Be consistent with your brand messaging. Keep your resume and other communications laser focused.
- Leverage social media. Use LinkedIn, Facebook, Twitter or other social media (considered your own webpage?) to boost your profile, galvanize your network and discover opportunities. Something else Obama pioneered wisely.
- Knock on doors. Pounding the pavement and connecting with contacts and employers is still an effective job campaign method—even in our digital world. Attend networking events, volunteer and socialize to keep your name and face out there. Every contact is a potential promoter, so talk about the job you want and why you deserve it. Obama combined word of mouth campaigns with his social media campaign innovation.
- Gather your champions. A well-run campaign creates advocates, because the candidate can’t be everywhere at once. Seek out advice from experts. Develop a diverse group of supporters who can share information about your industry, connect you with others, and just plain have your back.
You are a candidate in a campaign, resolved to win the offer. Be prepared for a marathon rather than a sprint. Ignore the naysayers—including those in your own head. Smile at the people. Push through any fear. Sweep your campaign trail. Go get that vote! For help with your campaign, click here
Photo: Theresa Thompson