By Dawn Graham, Contributor
Forbes, January 10, 2018 —
When was the last time you were in a full-on job search? Tw0? Five? Fifteen years ago?
While the saying is true that you never forget how to ride a bike, unfortunately, the same cannot be said about the job search. Unlike riding a bike, which hasn’t changed much in the last 150 years, the job search process has changed drastically.
So, if it’s been a while since your last career transition, now is a perfect time to catch up with the latest:
- Social media has taken center stage, yet applying online has one of the lowest return on investments as compared to strategies like networking.
- Well-crafted resumes and cover letters continue to be a necessity, but are no longer simple historical accounts of your career based on past job descriptions.
- Competition has expanded beyond traditional candidates to a new group of career switchers who are vying (successfully!) for roles they don’t have deep experience in.
It’s confusing, and in a market where there’s more opportunity than ever, a lack of savvy job search skills keeps well-qualified professionals stuck in unsatisfying careers, contributing to why 70% of Americans are disengaged at work (Gallup, 2017).
Whether you’re looking to move to a similar role in a different company or industry, or if 2018 is your year to make a complete switch to a new function, review this 15-item checklist to learn if you are job search ready:
Scale: 4 = Definitely, 3 = Mostly, 2 = Not Sure, 1 = What does this even mean?
- My job search goal is well-defined in terms of level, title, industry, geography, scope of work and target compensation, and my network understands what roles I am looking for. _____
- I can clearly articulate the pain points in the market/industry (e.g., the key problems that need to be solved), and also show how I can solve these problems based on the application of my skills, relevant experience and related abilities. _____
Double-check: Do you know the top three market trends in the industry? When you assess your skills and background, can you easily discern what is relevant, what is obsolete and where there are gaps?
You have more work to do if: you’re still considering two potential career paths.
- My resume is up-to-date, in a reverse chronological format with a targeted Profile free of ‘fluff,’ and includes bullet points that read like a lifetime achievement award. _____
- I’ve removed material that could detract from my brand and confuse my target audience such as outdated information and accomplishments that aren’t directly relevant to the positions I’m seeking. _____
- My cover letter is tailored for each role, specifically ties my qualifications to the requirements in the job description and highlights my unique selling points. _____
Double-check: Do each of your resume bullets points show a tangible result and include concrete details such as numbers or direct impact? Have you removed superfluous information such as history beyond 15 – 20 years, home address, and hobbies?
You have more work to do if: you use terms like ‘responsible for,’ ‘team player’ or ‘results-oriented.’
- My LinkedIn profile is complete, including a professional headshot, custom headline and key accomplishments relevant to my job target. _____
- I am mindful of what I post on social media, including sites like Facebook and Twitter, recognizing that over 90% of recruiters use these tools in a search and privacy filters aren’t foolproof. _____
Double-check: Have you Googled yourself lately to see what comes up? Have you completed the Summary section of your LinkedIn profile recognizing that the first two sentences are what most people read?
You have more work to do if: you have fewer than 500 connections on LinkedIn.
- My contacts are ‘Ambassadors,’ listening for and bringing back opportunities that align with my career goals. _____
- My contacts understand my brand and the problems I’m able to solve for employers. _____
- I make effective use of second-level contacts. _____
Double-check: Ask your close contacts what you are ‘known for’ and ensure their responses align with your job target.
You have more work to do if: you’re a career switcher (a completely doable, but decidedly harder, path).
- My well-formulated response to the question ‘Tell me about yourself’ would get me a second interview, even if it’s the only question I was asked. _____
- I’ve completed at least one successful mock (or real) interview in the last three weeks and received constructive feedback. _____
Double-check: Do you have five – seven accomplishment stories that align with the competencies needed in the role you’re seeking? Are there any questions you stumble over, such as talking about a past layoff?
You have more work to do if: you haven’t practiced interviewing out loud with another person.
- I’ve researched the current market including factors like geography, industry, education-level and company size and know what my skillset is worth and what my ‘walk-away’ number is. _____
- I understand there are two times in the job search process where salary is discussed and how to address each conversation to maximize the offer. _____
- I can be diplomatically assertive to handle situations where employers don’t respond and I understand when to follow up and when to cut ties. _____
Double-check: Do you know if employers can legally ask your salary history in your city/state? If you don’t hear back from an employer (or network contact), do you follow up within two weeks?
You have more work to do if: you would skip the negotiating conversation if you’re happy with the initial offer.
If your score is on the north side of 45, you’re likely doing just fine. And even if you have some work to do, now that you know where you stand, you can make this the year you take control of your career!
I started my corporate career as a recruiter, and over the past two decades have been helping job seekers attain great roles from the “other side of the desk” as a career coach. A Licensed Psychologist and Career Director for the Wharton MBA Program for Executives, I coach some of the brightest minds in business, helping them land competitive roles with a focus on career switchers looking to make mid-career industry or functional transitions. On my weekly Sirius XM radio show “Career Talk” (Channel 111), I’m privileged to be available live each week to a national audience to answer questions on a variety of career-related topics. My first book “Switchers: How Smart Professionals Change Careers & Seize Success” is due on shelves in June 2018. Follow me on Twitter @DrDawnGraham to learn more.