December 5, 2013

12 Action Steps to a Job!

When the semester is over and your finals are done, it is going to be time to kick into gear with a well thought out job search. There really is no time to waste. The market is improving and the people out in front of this train are going to be the ones who get hired first.

I frequently notice that job seekers are in bed when I call at 10:00 am. I cannot believe it. Getting a job is full time work! That is 40 hours per week. If you are really working on getting a job, you need to get up at the time that most working people get up and be at your desk or on your way to an interview by 7:30. You need to tumble out of bed at 6:00 am and get moving on the day.

Your first move after getting out of bed is to exercise. Go jogging, biking, walking, play tennis or go to the gym. In other words, you need to work out. Working out first thing in the morning will get your head cleared and get your body moving. It will also go a long way to reduce the stress and anxiety you feel about not having a job. Do this with a friend and you will further reduce the stress. You will have a person with whom you can share your job seeking progress. The support and encouragement will help. The camaraderie will get you moving. After the first week of this routine, you will be way ahead of the competition. (And arriving early will help you find a parking spot).

Your second move is going to be writing your daily "to do" list. Start by listing your goals every 3 to 6 months. Then each day write your "to do" list with your goals in mind. You will want to print your lists and hang on to them so you can see your progress. Writing a goals list and a daily "to do" list are marks of successful people. In interviews, employers always ask you what your goals are to see if you have potential. Employers don’t hire people who don’t set goals for themselves and organize their time. Waste your time and you waste your life.

Now for the 12 action steps: Here is a sample weekly checklist of what you should be doing if you are a serious job seeker:

  1. Take a career planning class or workshop or read a career planning "how to" book. It is hard to stay motivated when you face rejection. Some of the best tools available for getting motivated and on your way to a new job can be found on the web or in your local book store. There is no end of advice out there to help you get a good job. My book The Serious Job Seeker is available free online.
  2. Put together a job search binder and a calendar to organize your search. Create a command center from which to run your search. You will need a phone, computer, Internet access, etc. You will also need to view your job search as an adventure... an opportunity to explore your field. A positive attitude throughout the job search campaign is absolutely required.
  3. Read the news for the geographical area you are searching for a job in. You will get ideas on which companies and industries are growing in your areas of interest. Many times, the new contracts or the crises of today turn into the jobs of tomorrow. Save articles and the names of individuals and companies mentioned in the articles, and figure out how to make contact with those that interest you. The local Business Journal is my favorite source for information on which companies are growing and for lists of companies in any given industry.  The Business Journal is published in every major city (and some smaller cities) in the US.  The lists give you everything you need to contact a company in a specific US city.
  4. Develop a list of possible companies from your reading, the web, and from directories of companies based on your area of interest.
  5. Each week, research a minimum of ten companies on your target list. If you find one that is of interest that seems to be growing from news accounts you find check their web site for jobs listed. Then find someone on Linked-in who you might connect with for more information or a company visit. Send email to that person expressing interest in the organization and describing your qualifications. Follow up with telephone calls. Schedule appointments.
  6. Use your social networks, friends and family to inform people you are looking for a job. Tell them what kind of job you are seeking and ask for names of people they know who you might contact. Name companies you are targeting. That will help people come up with contact names. Telephone at least ten contacts each week and make ten cold calls to people mentioned in articles or in other sources you are using. Get referrals to individuals in your field from each one. Follow-up with thank you email to anyone and everyone who gives you ideas, contacts and leads. And get used to some rejection... don’t let it stop you! Just get more creative the next time.
  7. Arrange at least 2 to 4 informational interviews with people who are in industries or jobs that interest you. Get referrals to other professionals from each of your contacts. Always follow up with thank-you notes. Sample thank you notes can be found at The Serious Job Seeker.
  8. Apply to all jobs from the web and other sources related to your career objective, even if you are "under" or "over" qualified. Take a look at Indeed.   It is my favorite job listing system and I have it linked to my book The Serious Job Seeker. Take a look at Craig’s list too - but be careful for scams here. When you find a job, apply, then use your social networks to contact anyone you know who might know someone in the company who you can speak with. I love Linkedin for this purpose. Try for referrals to the manager who is doing the hiring or someone else you can contact to find out more about the position and request an interview. Follow up on all of your applications with telephone calls after one to three days. Be sure to save copy the job details and make notations for each position you apply for in your career binder and your desktop job folder.
  9. Read at least 2 professional journals related to your area of interest, and also look for job listings in the employment section. It will keep you up on current issues in case you are asked something in an interview on a hot topic. It will also give you a sense of what industries are emerging, expanding and doing the hiring in your field. You will find career positions, internships and much more in the journal and the on-line features that come along with professional membership! Join now!!!
  10. Visit your college career center to get leads and to participate in job seeking workshops and alumni services. Get names and contact information for alumni or other people in your target companies.
  11. Check on any activities being sponsored by professional associations related to your career interests. Go to any that might connect you with other professionals or job seekers in your field. Make new acquaintances and get contact info follow up with email and phone calls.
  12. Write thank-you notes immediately following each contact and state what your next step will be. (Thank you for speaking with me today and suggesting... I will be...")
Remember: waste your time and you waste your life... So lets get rolling on the day now!