November 15, 2012

Job Seeking is Hard Labor

Like babies, job seeking requires hard labor, sometimes for prolonged periods of time. The average length of time it takes to get a job is three to six months. That is in a normal economy. It takes longer when the economy is slow, which is the situation we are in right now… Although the recession is over and the recovery is under way job creation is lagging. If you want a job you are going to have to do a lot of hard work.

Yesterday, I encountered a person who has been looking for work for six months. This is a crisis. This job is long overdue. The next crop of job candidates is just four weeks from graduation. Why did he wait so long?

Job seeking is a confusing process. If you have never looked for a professional job before it is hard to know where to begin. It is not something that comes naturally. It is scary.

It is hard to conduct a job search alone. Looking for a job requires a network of contacts that can lead you to a job. 80% of the jobs are not posted anywhere. How to you get to the jobs if you don’t have a network of professional people who you know?

Without anything pushing you - you lose momentum. You need a coach or a career class or a mentor to get through this process. Motivation is a key element of job seeking, but it is easy to get discouraged after three, six, or ten months of looking with no result. A coach or mentor can help you see what you are doing wrong and provide you with ideas on how to gain access to professional networks in your field.

Fear of rejection paralyzes job seekers. The fear of rejection looms large in any job search. You cannot let that stop you. Not every job is a fit. Some rejection actually keeps you from jobs that are really not right for you. The more you network and the more jobs you apply for the more likely it is that you are going to find the perfect job.

Job seeking takes time. You have to think of job seeking as a process. Processes take time – gosh, it takes 9 months to deliver a baby; it probably took you five to six years to get your degree. Job seeking takes time too. Invest the time to get the right job. Plan that it will take you about one month of job seeking for each year it took you to get your degree.

Following up is essential. Most job seekers don’t follow up with employers after submitting their resumes. Employers hire people who get their attention. Call immediately after sending the resume and say: “Hi, I sent my resume by email this morning and I am just checking to see that you got it and to see if there is a convenient time when we can meet to discuss the available position.”

Keep following up! Follow up by email and by phone. Each time you follow up and get the hiring manager’s voice system, you are going to use phrases like: “Hi, I am just checking on the status of my application. I am really interested in the position and I want to get a little more information when you have a chance." You will be upbeat even after the 4th time you leave your perky little message. Don’t worry so much about being annoying… but don’t call every day… The employer will receive so few follow-up calls that you will be distinguishing yourself from all of the other candidates. If you are good, they are going to appreciate your enthusiasm. And if you don’t fit the job they might refer you to someone else.

One of my favorite emails illustrates the point:

    Hi Cici – I just wanted to thank you for your advice via the Career Updates newsletter. I got hired for a six month internship at Grass Valley a couple of weeks ago. I talked to them and gave them my resume at the career fair, but I think what got me the interview was the follow-up email I sent a few days later. Within two days of sending the thank you (with resume attached, of course), they emailed me to tell me I had been selected for an interview. I also sent a follow-up the day after my interview to all six of the engineers and the HR manager that I had interviewed with, thanking them for their time and reiterating my interest in the position. I’ve talked to some of my friends who were also interested in Grass Valley and had talked to them at the career fair but didn’t hear back, and I was surprised to learn that none of them had sent a follow-up. I told everyone “Listen to Cici – send a follow-up!” Matt Bradley BS CpE, Fall 2005

So start the hard labor now and get that job delivered!