Earlier last year, I was “forced” to look for a job. I was told that the budget for my group had been slashed, and there may or may not be a role for me in the new financial year. When I heard the news, I couldn’t believe that I may be looking at a potential lay off after being a consistent high-performer for 11 years. This was a reality check I needed. I jolted me into action and I started to look at how to find a new job. Let’s just say, I had looked passively previously and never really got into the thick of things. I learnt a few things on my journey that I am sharing here with you.
While there are a number of resources that tell you how to do a job search when you need a job, very few tell you to prep for a job search before you need a job. What I learnt is that to be super successful at job search, building your brand and building your network are two most important things that you need to keep doing, when you DON’T need a job. You read me right!! Preparing for a job search is MORE important than the act of job search itself. Now, however alien this may sound, but consider this, if Mark Zuckerberg was to look for a job today, would he need to have a resume ready? No, because we already know what Mark brings to the table and his network would be rolling red carpets for him to join their team. What does he have – Brand and Network!
Here are some strategies I learnt this year:
- Identify what you are looking for: No, it cannot be ‘I hate my current boss’ or ‘the commute is too long’, those are valid reasons for looking for a job. But not what you are looking for in a new job/role. What you are looking for in a new job could be a good coach, no after-hours work. Focus on the positives, not what you are running away from. So write your must-haves and must have-nots too. I repeat – Write them down! Without that, you will lose sight of your needs when it’s time for negotiations or choosing from multiple job offers (yes it happens).
- Prepare your story: Define your brand – what are you awesome at and what no one else can do better than you! This is your story. Build it and socialize it – via LinkedIn, people you meet, professional groups you are part of. Write about the topics you are awesome at and publish them. Again LinkedIn is a great tool for that!!
- Build your network: Now, many years ago when I joined workforce, “network” was THE buzzword. But being an introvert that I am, getting myself out there scared the hell out of me. But this time around, I took inspiration from Robbie Abed, an ex-colleague, now a career advancement coach. His mantra was simple: have lots of “coffee chats”. Don’t ask people to forward your resume or refer you. Ask them for a coffee chat. And when you meet, ask about the work they do and how can you help them? Who you can help them make a connection with? He also wrote a book called – Fire Me I Beg You. If you were only reading one book this year, I would recommend this one. You can also check out his website for his full story, it is a very inspirational one!
I claim to be no expert at job hunting but these strategies have helped me this year tremendously and I hope to keep doing these. For the concerned ones, I did land a very good role within the same company and I couldn’t be happier. So don’t delay and remember, the best time to look for a job is when you don’t need it!!
PS: If there is enough interest, I can also write about resume building and LinkedIn profile tips that I learned this year.