2016 Step-by-Step Job Search Guide
If you’re job-hunting full-time now, here’s a step-by-step guide to organizing your job search activities.
If you want a new job and you’re working now, resist the urge to start throwing resumes all over the place and applying for every job you see. I understand completely why every other available job might look better to you right now than the job you’ve already got, but you have to keep in mind that what you’re selling to employers is your resume.
If you get a new job quickly but you hate that job nearly as much as you hate your current job, you’re going to end up with a string of short-term jobs on your resume.
If your resume gets damaged with a long string of going-nowhere jobs, that will hurt your efforts to get a good job that deserves you. If you can separate yourself emotionally from the job you don’t like, the one you have now, to focus on your job search and give it time, you’re likely to have more success than you’ll have with a desperation job search.
Here are the steps to getting a job that deserves your talents.
1. Look back.
Get a journal and write in it. Write about your life so far. Write about what you like to do and know you’re good at. Your career history doesn’t limit you in your job search nearly as much as most of us have been led to believe.
You can’t practice medicine or law whenever you feel like it, but you can make a lot of other career changes without going back to school. You have to see the connection between your new, chosen career path and your old one before anyone else will see it.
Once that connection is clear and once you abandon the broken Black Hole of automated recruiting portals, your job search will get a lot easier!
2. Look forward.
Look forward at the rest of your career. What are your long-term life and career goals? The right job for you will be a job that moves you closer to your goals. Don’t take a new job because it’s ten minutes closer to your house or pays slightly more than your current job. Set your sights higher than that!
3. Decide what kind of job you want next.
As you think about your next job, focus on what you love to and what you know you’re good at. Those factors are just as important as having worked in a particular job title before.
You can “pitch” your past experience to highlight the most relevant-to-your-new-manager things you’ve done at each job, and that’s how successful career-changers get a hiring managers’ attention even when they haven’t worked in a particular industry or function already.
4. Brand yourself for the specific jobs you want — not for every job, you could perform.
Good branding is very specific. It doesn’t say “I’m a Jack of all trades and I can do everything!” because no one believes that, and besides, no hiring manager has that kind of Business Pain.
Hiring managers are looking for people who can solve their problems, and business problems are specific. Brand yourself as a particular kind of Pain-Solver and not a general utility person.
When you have a clear idea of the sorts of jobs you want to focus on in your job search, write a paragraph about your job search focus, and be specific!
Here’s how Joseph wrote about his job search. This paragraph is just for him — it’s not going to appear on his resume.
I’m looking for a job where I can use my mechanical skills and project-management experience to run fairly large projects that have a lot riding on them, financially and otherwise. The job could be in manufacturing, construction, maybe in the auto industry or in technology.
It will be an office job but one with a ‘blue-collar’ or hands-on operational component and it will be a job where I manage a team or help teams to succeed. The title for my new job could be Project Manager, Operations Manager, Warehouse Manager, Inventory manager, etc.
5. Write your Human-Voiced Resume.
A Human-Voiced Resume is a resume that sounds like you’re talking. It has a conversational tone. It brings your personality across more powerfully on the page (or screen) than a traditional, boring resume does. You’ll find articles about Human-Voiced Resumes at the end of this article.
6. Learn about Pain Letters.
A Pain Letter is a new-millennium answer to a cover letter. It’s called a Pain Letter because it talks about the problem, or Business Pain, your hiring manager (a/k/a your next boss) is likely to be facing. Read about Pain Letters at the links at the end of this story!
7. Establish a target salary range for your job search.
What will your salary requirement be as you hit the job search trail? That’s an important element to nail down in advance! Use Salary and Payscale to figure out what your target jobs pay in your region.
8. Choose your job search channels.
Here are the most effective job-search channels (means of approach) I know:
- The direct approach to hiring managers (sending each of your target hiring managers your Pain Letter and your Human-Voiced Resume, through the mail) called the Whole Person Job Search
- If your target positions are often filled by third-party search folks and if your background is likewise headhunter-friendly, then recruiters may be a great job-search channel for you
- Networking is a terrific job-search channel for everyone, and
- Finally, consulting on your own is a fantastic way to get a new job, particularly if you’re not working now.
9. Make a Target Employer List.
You don’t have to restrict your job search to responses to published job ads. You can contact any hiring manager you want!
I recommend that you split your available job-search time into thirds and devote one-third of it to networking, one-third to creating responses to posted job ads and the last one-third to outreach to hiring managers who don’t have job ads posted.
Even when you respond to a job ad, you’ll reach out to your hiring manager directly instead of through an automated recruiting system.
10. Identify your hiring manager in each employer on your list.
Here’s how to do that! There are more resources for locating your hiring manager at the end of this piece.
11. Customize your Human-Voiced Resume for each opportunity you pursue.
The key to your successful Whole Person Job Search is that you can’t sound like a robot. You have to sound like yourself.
If your Pain Letter and your Human-Voiced Resume don’t grab your hiring manager’s attention the instant he or she slides them out of the envelope, they’re either going in the trash or back to HR.
That’s not what you want! Dare to speak to your hiring manager like a human, the way I’m talking to you now. Customize your HVR every time you use it.
12. Write a Pain Letter for each opportunity, and send it out with your HVR.
You’ll see Pain Letter links at the end of this story. You’ll research your target employers online and think about each of your hiring managers’ most likely Business Pain points. What is keeping your possible next boss up at night? Whatever it is, that’s what you’ll talk about in your Pain Letter!
13. Activate your network.
Get everyone you know involved in your job search, unless it’s a stealth job search in which case the less said to all but your best friends, the better! If you’re a full-time job seeker, you have no restrictions on the number of people who can join your job-search referral network. Get out there, have some coffees and lunches and get the word out!
14. Get a consulting business card.
Every working person, job-seeker, and student should have a consulting business card these days because we all work for ourselves now. Grab a consulting business card for very little money at Vistaprint or an office supply store and step into your new consulting persona. You’re a consultant now, not a job-seeker!
15. Keep track of your job search activity.
Use a spreadsheet or a phone app to track your job Celebrate every Pain Letter you send out with a little treat for yourself. You deserve it!
16. Stick with it!
A job search is a project, and it’s not a weekend project like cleaning out your garage. It may take weeks or months. There are lots of factors involved, some of which you can control and others you can’t.
You can feel great about your job search if you’re moving forward a little bit more every day and stepping out of your comfort zone. That’s the most important part of your job search, and the only way to grow new muscles!
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