March 14, 2018

Is Your Career Souring?

Your career is like a carton of milk. It has an expiration date. If you fail to move up after a reasonable length of time in your position, or if you do not get a job within a certain amount of time after graduation it may never happen. It is a pretty harsh reality.

Things are not impossible but you make it a lot harder on yourself if you just sit there and age in place. Growing your career takes a lot of effort on your part! A good economy helps – but it is most definitely not enough.

One of the other harsh realities is that people who graduate into a bad economy might never catch up with where they should be or where they would have been if the fates had been kinder. They are perpetually behind. The first job comes slowly -if at all - and the promotions take forever. It is not your fault. You can play catch up when the economy is better - as it is now but it takes drive, discipline, determination, and a ton of work on your part.

Obviously people looking in a good market are going to have much easier time and have greater initial success than those who are searching in a down economy. All it takes to get hired in an overheated economy is a degree and a heartbeat – or so it seems. It takes less time and less effort to find what you want when everyone on earth is hiring.

So there you are wondering why you are stalled out. The economy is great. Your resume is good. You are applying online to hundreds of jobs...

Sometimes the difficulty is that people don’t always know where to begin. First it is hard to know where to look. Then, when you find the “perfect position” you might not know how to close the deal with the perfect application, cover letter, resume and interview.

There are no short cuts to a good career unless you are the Duke of Cambridge. Prince William has known his whole life what his career will be – no applications necessary. He has been training his whole life for the job he will inherit. His resume is his DNA. The rest of us have to figure it out.

A little help from a network is a key ingredient to a solid job search… Call in the troops. And tell them you are looking for a change. I dropped a hint with a woman I barely knew – indicating that I was looking for new opportunities when I wanted to leave a dead-end job. She gave me a name and a number. The next time she saw me she said “you didn’t call my friend did you?”… “CALL HER! --- she said…” That call was the most important call of my career.

A big mistake people make in job seeking is that they apply blindly or without enough research. Think of yourself as a spy – you need to know as much as possible about the target you are aiming for. Research the company completely! Research what they say about themselves, research what others say about the company – people who work there and people who write about the industry they are part of. Study the job description like your life depends on it. Analyze it. Dissect it. Find all of the key responsibilities and requirements. Google, Indeed, Glassdoor, the internet in general - make it really easy to find the good and the bad and the obscure info about the job, the company, the company’s competitors, and the latest on the industry they are a part of.

If you are applying online you have to look exactly like the job description to get noticed. Finding the perfect job and getting the job requires that you know everything there is to know about the position, the organization, and the people who are successful there. Your qualifications have to match the qualifications exactly. Studying the job description carefully, finding the key words that matter, and then wording your resume and your applications with a qualifications summary that fits and matches the requirements for each and every job you apply for can accomplish this.

I work with a lot of job seekers and career changers and I find that as much as I would like to make things happen immediately … it takes time, a ton of work, a lot of complex analysis, effective use of your network, and a sprinkling of luck that you organize to get the perfect position.