In this must-have toolkit, Brian Howard offers a systematic approach for conducting a job search based on years spent helping job seekers find hidden position openings, ace interviews, and win job offers. These strategic insights include: using the "psychology of persuasion" throughout your job search, understanding the mind and motivations of an employer, maximizing the use of accomplishments, optimizing your LinkedIn profile and leveraging its algorithm, networking, interviewing, negotiating job offers, and more.
About the Author
Brian Howard is a Certified Career Management Coach (CCMC), a Certified Professional Resume Writer (CPRW), an actively practicing executive recruiter, and President of The Howard Group, who has helped thousands of job seekers over the course of his decades-long career.
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Things to Know about Your Job Search
In the end, what we regret most are the chances we never took.
— Frasier Crane
Your Job-Search Arsenal: Considerations, Tools, and Tactics
The following is a reasonably comprehensive, though not necessarily an exhaustive list of considerations, tools, and tactics for a self-motivated job search. The checklist is designed as a visual reminder of the tools and tactics at your disposal during your job search. Use it as you prepare for your search and to identify action items as you proceed through your search. Read the other chapters in this book for in-depth information.
It's recommended that you review this list every once in a while as a reminder of what you should be doing or can be doing to advance your job search.
* Getting off to a Successful Start
Beyond "I need to update my resume," many job seekers don't know what to do, let alone in what order to do it, especially if they are starting their job search from scratch. It can easily be overwhelming, especially if you didn't expect to become unemployed, haven't looked for a job in a long time, or need to find a new job. Relax and take a deep breath. In this topic we will list, then briefly discuss, the A-1 priorities to successfully launch your job search and reduce any feelings of anxiety. They are:
1. Get (and keep) your emotions in check. This is the first order of business. If you need a day or a weekend to work through the emotions of losing your job before starting your job search, that's fine, but no more than that. You don't have time for a pity party. Now here comes the big secret: the moment you start taking real steps to begin your job search, the sooner the feelings of anxiety, fear, and even anger will fade. Not dwelling on the past moves you forward to your future and your next job.
2. Identify your keywords. What words apply to you? Start simple. What titles have you held? What industries have you worked in? What knowledge do you have? These concepts and others will form the messaging behind who you are and how you present yourself to the job market. There will be much more on keywords as you progress through the book.
3. Get organized. You will need to make lists — of companies, people, and to-do lists. Think through how you will keep track of everything. Relying on your memory or sticky notes in a shotgun fashion is a recipe for disaster. In the thick of your job search, you won't be able to keep track of what you're doing without a system. Excel spreadsheets are highly recommended for creating lists of companies and people. Only create columns for the information you will really need (name of contact, company, company website, email address, phone number, date contacted). Don't get carried away recording non-useful information. There are commercial services that can help you stay organized in your job search. Check out JibberJobber (www.jibberjobber.com) and CareerShift (www.careershift.com). Microsoft Outlook's calendar feature can also help. You can record tasks to be done, schedule follow-up calls, and so on.
4. Create a short list of target employers you would be interested in working for. It may be only three, five, or ten companies to start with. Add to the list as you discover new companies. The point here is to start the list that gets you thinking. Now, look up the companies on LinkedIn. Follow them by setting up alerts for news, press releases, and job postings. Google Alerts may also be used. If you have Twitter, follow the companies. This starts the flow of information from these companies (and others you'll add), including jobs and industry trends, which will benefit your job search. Add this information to your Excel spreadsheets to create a complete picture of each company before moving ahead, to eliminate needless backtracking for additional research.
5. Create a short list of networking contacts. This one is like the list of companies from the last step. Make a list of close professional colleagues you feel comfortable speaking to about your circumstances and job search. As you think of more, add to the list. This list likely will not exceed twenty to twenty-five names to begin with (although it could be more). After you make out the list, do not contact them. You are not ready (even though you may think you are). Regardless of your business or personal relationships, don't "blow it" by not being properly prepared. Be patient. Read the Professional Networking section in this book, and do things right the first time. Just like with your target companies, be sure to include all relevant information before moving on.
6. Update your resume. Read the Impactful Resumes section, and either prepare one yourself, or seek professional services (which will free your time for other job-search activities). Having your resume professionally prepared could be a good investment.
7. Update your LinkedIn profile and expand your network. Consult the LinkedIn section and optimize your LinkedIn profile. Make sure your resume and LinkedIn profile are in sync with each other (especially the names of former employers and dates of employment). After you look over the Networking chapter, expand your network by adding one hundred new connections (it's not as hard as you may think). These have to be the right kind of high-value connections (explained later) that will significantly advance your job search.
8. Create job alerts. Use websites like Indeed.com and SimplyHired.com. You can choose to be alerted about titles, locations, specific companies (from your short list), and so on. Set up job alerts on LinkedIn too. Companies (and recruiters) post jobs on LinkedIn and you can receive notifications when they do. Are there any industry-specific or niche job boards you could search? Check out http://airsdirectory.com to research them, as well as recruiters, and then set up alerts. Get a sense of the job market, and start the flow of opportunities you are looking for. If a position pops up, and you're interested, do not apply for it through the website. Research the likely hiring executive(s) and contact them directly. Much more on this strategy later.
More about Job Alerts
The number of job openings you receive from your job alerts can be an indication of the market demand for someone with your skill set or whether your target market is broad enough. There are a host of factors that can influence the number of jobs that pop up from your job alerts. As you evaluate them, here are some general guidelines:
Eight or fewer job openings per month. If the trend indicates that you are getting eight or fewer job openings per month (two or fewer per week), it could be an indication that the demand for your specific skill set may not be strong enough to drive your job search, or your target market is too limited. Broaden the parameters of your job alerts to capture more openings.
Nine to thirty-six job openings per month. This range is likely healthy — you are being alerted to three to four and upward to nine openings a week. There is demand for your skill set, and your target market is large enough. As you screen the openings, the number you choose to pursue is manageable.
Thirty-seven or more openings per month. In this case, you may want to consider tightening the parameters of your job alerts. You are being notified about eight or more openings a week. Depending upon the quality of the openings, they could become unmanageable to effectively evaluate and pursue.
Resentment and Bitterness
We need to talk about emotions, because having the right frame of mind is crucial to a successful job search. If you happened to lose your job unexpectedly, you know that it means more than just losing your paycheck. There's the loss of identity, self-esteem, friendships with those at work, possible embarrassment, feelings of no longer being productive, loss of a sense of purpose, loss of a sense of control, and emptiness, not to mention the change in your daily routine. It's a jolt and there's a lot to process, especially emotions. It's okay to cry ... more than once if you feel the need to do so. Let the emotions out, don't internalize them and bottle them up.
Harboring negative feelings (including holding grudges) about your employment situation, will negatively impact your job search. A poor attitude or an unintended slip-of-the-tongue in an interview will dissuade any employer from hiring you. Employers will not knowingly hire a person with an attitude problem that can poison company culture. As difficult as it is, you must take steps to "let it go."
Setting aside clinical psychology, holding a grudge will harm you mentally and physically, and will harm your job search. Here is some layman's advice to get you thinking and moving in the right direction.
Releasing your feelings of resentment and bitterness is a process, not an event. But, you must begin by intellectually and emotionally moving from the pain that has been inflicted to the future of a fulfilling new career position. The longer you wallow in self-pity, the longer you will obsess and continue to have intense negative feelings. It's fine to take time to vent; in fact, it's healthy to do so. But don't get stuck and dwell on the past. Focus on moving yourself forward.
One helpful technique is to write about your feelings. Don't hold back. Write what you wish you would have said to your former boss and others. Write about anything that bothers you. Do this repeatedly if you feel the need. That's okay. Getting it down on paper releases the mental pressure inside you and helps relieve the obsessive thoughts in your head.
You are an adult, and you should know that holding on and obsessing only continues to force out good feelings and the joys of life, and clouds your thinking about your future career fulfillment. When you're thinking "bad," you can't be thinking "good." Open your mind and your heart to the value of releasing the resentment and bitterness. Ask yourself, "What will I gain by letting go of these bad feelings?" (The answer is "plenty!") Once you do, you will begin to feel lighter, more optimistic, and energized about the tasks of your job search.
Actively choose a new way of thinking. Choose a new outlook. Choose a new attitude. Do what you can to think differently. Try to fill your mind with thoughts that are positive.
Take active steps in your job search. There are a lot of things you can do to move your job search forward. Start doing them. Getting active with your search will help lessen the feelings of resentment and move you to optimism about your future. "Act yourself to right thinking," as the saying goes.
Do not view yourself as a victim. That is a defeatist attitude. Instead, see your situation as an opportunity ... a blessing. You've been given the opportunity to write the next chapter in your life. What's the story going to be? You can control much of what happens but you will diminish your career fulfillment (your story) if you cling to resentment and bitterness.
Besides the mental torture resentment and bitterness can bring, there are very real physical harms that come from harboring resentments. According to Carsten Wrosch, professor of psychology at Concordia University, "studies have shown that bitter, angry people have higher blood pressure and heart rates and are more likely to die of heart disease and other illnesses."Why invite physical ailments into life?
Here's the best way to put it: "Resentment is like taking poison and waiting for the other person [such as a former employer] to die." As hard as it is, you must move on.
If you believe that you have significant emotional feelings about your situation that are holding you back and a professional therapist would be helpful, by all means seek help. There's no shame it that. In fact, it's smart. Getting over these emotional hurdles is important and the sooner you can clear them, the sooner you can meaningfully pursue your job search.
Keeping a Positive Attitude
Always bear in mind that your own resolution to succeed is more important than any other one thing.
— Abraham Lincoln
Looking for a job is work ... at times, very hard work, both physically and emotionally.
Despite the best job-search strategies, it's disheartening not to receive a job offer after making networking contacts, sending resumes, and going on interviews. The process can take a toll on your self-image and self-worth. And, of course, if you are unemployed, the financial hardship of little or no income and bills to pay can be difficult as well.
We've talked about how to get bad feelings out of your life so you can move forward with your job search. Now let's talk inspiration. Stacey A. Thompson is a certified career coach and marketing professional with more than twenty years of experience in marketing communications, public relations, and business writing. She is also the founder of Virtues for Life, a website designed to inspire and coach people in the daily practice of virtues. She has written about insightful virtues to practice during a job search.
The following tips can be found on her website:
1. Faith. Having faith that you will find a job and really believing this in your heart — even when there is no evidence that this is true — is an enlightened way of thinking. Part of such faith is the understanding that whatever happens, there is a good reason for it, even if you don't know it at the time. As the saying goes, "Everything happens for a reason." Who would have thought that when you got laid off from your last job it would lead to a more fulfilling and joyful career? It can happen. Or it can catapult you into your own business. That happens more often than you might think. No matter how much you may dislike something that happened to you, having faith in the journey of life and what it may hold will help you to free yourself from worry and fear.
2. Perseverance. As weeks or even months pass, job searching may take a toll on your willpower. You also may feel that you can't look at one more job posting, make one more phone call, type one more cover letter, or attend one more networking event. But the mindset it takes for a runner to finish a marathon — uphill in the rain — is what it takes to land a job. Keeping your eye on the goal and becoming unstoppable in the quest for professionally satisfying employment can mean the difference between success and failure. No matter how many times you get rejected, how much you are suffering financially, or how fed up you become, persevering will get you a job.
3. Courage. It takes great courage to keep trying and sticking your neck out there to find a job even when the results seem futile. But practicing courage helps you to press on as you market yourself, write cover letters, attend networking functions (where you know no one), and face interview after interview to eventually achieve your career goals.
4. Confidence. While the job search continues and more rejection follows, your confidence can suffer even more. But understanding that rejection is part of the process and is not personal can make you stronger and more resilient. It's easy to lose sight of your talents, strengths, and experiences when you receive little validation or acknowledgment. Focusing on your abilities and the value you will add to potential employers will boost and maintain your confidence. Posting daily reminders or repeating affirmations to yourself relating to your abilities and your value as a person, or visualizing yourself happy and fulfilled in your next job can help you stay motivated and confident.
5. Gratitude. The practice of gratitude can have a significant impact on a person's well-being. There is always something to be grateful for in life. It isn't always easy to see this, especially during hard times, but being thankful for the many blessings and simple pleasures of life will make you happier. Grateful people — according to scientific research — experience higher levels of positive emotions, cope better with stress, recover more quickly from illness, and benefit from greater physical health. Having an attitude of gratitude shifts our mental focus from negative to positive. Positive thinking, as we well know, has transformative powers. Practicing gratitude in life and during the job search is a powerful tool we can use to help prevent negative emotions, focus our thoughts on what is working in life, and make positive change. There may come a time or a day when you feel all is lost in regard to your job search. Before this happens, write a gratitude list of all the things that you have, including all the experiences, all the people, and everything in your life that you are grateful for. Write this list, review it, and continue adding to it. You will be surprised how it will lift your spirits and actually motivate you to persevere. Remember, "This too shall pass."(Continues…)
Excerpted from "The Motivated Job Search"
Copyright © 2018 Brian E. Howard.
Excerpted by permission of Boutique of Quality Books Publishing Company.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.
Table of Contents
Chapter 1: Things to Know about Your Job Search,
Chapter 2: Profiling Your Next Career Opportunity — the Target Opportunity Profile,
Chapter 3: Essential Job-Search Topics and Tools,
Chapter 4: Impactful Resumes,
Chapter 5: LinkedIn,
Chapter 6: Cover Letters and Other Written Communications,
Chapter 7: Professional Networking,
Chapter 8: Social Media: Twitter and Facebook,
Chapter 9: Working with Search Firms,
Chapter 10: Proactively Marketing Your Professional Credentials,
Chapter 11: Interviewing,
Chapter 13: References,
Chapter 14: Evaluating and Negotiating a Job Offer,
Chapter 15: Resignation and Counter Offers,
Chapter 16: Covenants-Not-To-Compete and Non-Solicitation Agreements,
Chapter 17: How to Relaunch a Stagnant Job Search,
Chapter 18: Required Job-Search Skills for Long-Term Career Employment,
Chapter 19: A Personal Letter to You about Career Management,
Appendix A: Success Story Worksheet and Samples,
Appendix B: Sample Resumes,
Appendix C: Sample Letters,