It’s hard to believe, but it’s almost New Year’s resolution time again. Each year I hear from countless people saying that a career change is the goal for the coming year; not surprising given my profession, but what is surprising is how unprepared most people are to accomplish their goal. So, if a change is on the horizon for you, here are 8 tips to conduct an efficient and effective search of your own.
1. Update Your Resume
This may seem obvious, but you’d be surprised how many people get started looking at jobs without doing it. Jumping into a search without your resume at the ready is like a dog chasing a car; what will it do if it catches it? You may find a job you like, and you can’t apply or effectively engage without a resume in most cases. Get this ready first. Updating it also helps you refresh yourself on dates, accomplishments, and other info that will be good to know for quick recital when asked in interviews.
2. Audit Your Social Media
This means everything. If your name, email address, phone number, or any other features make your account searchable, or if you’re connected to even a single person who knows you in a professional manner at all, clean these up. Checking applicants out on social media is the new background check (they’ll still do those too in many cases) and you can rest assured you’ll be looked into. Anything that ties to politics, religion, usage of any controlled substance (even alcohol) or anything with potentially offensive content or language can be a deal killer for many hiring managers.
3. Know What You Want
Know what you’re looking for so you know when you’ve found it. I often advise candidates to write down the 3-5 most important things for them to find. Do this early while you’re not clouded by anything else. Why are you looking? Money? Commute? Advancement? Company culture? Or something else? Jot them down in order of priority. Later, when you’re looking at offers, pull this out and use it. Really use it. Hold yourself accountable to what you told yourself mattered. If one company offers more money but doesn’t hit on the important marks (assuming money wasn’t one for you) then don’t let the dollars cloud your judgement or you’ll be right back in a search in 12-18 months when you’re unhappy.
4. Don't Overapply
As someone who gets hundreds of resumes each week, this is a real hot button for me. There is a fine line between “motivated” and “desperate” and like it or not, the interpretation of the recipient is what matters here. When hiring managers or recruiters see the same name and resume for multiple openings, even over time, it does not send a good message. Be mindful of what you’re applying for and who it goes to. You can always reach out with a direct email or call to follow up but do not just keep applying for roles over and over.
5. When It Comes To Interviews: Prepare, Prepare, Prepare
I get it. I was a “wing it” test taker in school and did the same thing when I started interviewing for jobs. Today, it doesn’t work. With the information available to you, hiring managers are increasingly expecting candidates to be informed. Know about the company, the role, and if you can, the hiring manager. Research them on social media (they’ll do it to you) and have a feel for the situation. They want to hear what you like about the organization and why you want to work there.
6. Don't Make It All About A Job
This piggybacks off of #5 above. People who are happy in their career, and I mean truly happy, are happy with two key factors. First, is the company. The culture, commitment, values, and behaviors of the company align well for them. Second is the leadership; the people shaping the company. If you focus your interview around the job and only the job (a common mistake), you’ll never know if it is for you. Jobs come and go, titles change, and roles evolve, but the company and its leadership make that work. Learn about them in any way you can and make sure it’s what you want – see #3.
7. Get Comfortable, Calm, and Relaxed
This is a must. It ties in to #5, as well. You have to get over nerves. Preparation does this for most people but by whatever means you can, get yourself relaxed and ready for interviews. Rehearse questions you are nervous might come up and what your answers are. Make sure your best suit is laid out and ready the day before. Know where you’re going (drive or commute the day before or on a weekend) and parking, building access details, etc. The more you know, the smoother it will all go. This allows you to be yourself and shine in the interview.
8. Follow Up
This is a lost art, which is odd because it’s easier than ever. An email is all it takes. When you are home from the interview, send a thank you note to all who attended. Individually works best so you can personalize it a bit. Simple is perfect, so thank them for their time, reiterate your interest (if it exists) and convey excitement about the next steps. Note: you never want a bad reputation in your industry so send this even if you’re no longer interested. You just leave out that part. Thank them for their time and sharing more about the company, role, etc.