As more and more middle aged men are being unceremoniously displaced from their jobs in the effort to “juniorize" the American workforce (see our blog
post The Juniorization of the American Workforce) a lot of us are finding ourselves out of work for
the first time, or for the first time in a long time. And, if you thought the responsibilities and tribulations of having a job were tough, buddy you
ain’t seen nothin’ yet! Because, finding a new career path is a full time gig.
For anyone in sales, the process of finding a new job is going to feel extremely familiar. Because, a career search is nothing more than a sales campaign … complete with advertising, networking, marketing and sales. And this time YOU are the product.
Get Your Head Right
Step one is to get over any head trash that you have about being out-of-work. Your profession does not define you. The way you present yourself to the world needs to be confident and damn near relentless.
What’s Your Message?
You need a succinct, compelling story to tell. This might require some self discovery, because you’re going to need to be able to tell everyone you know and everyone that you meet what it is that you’re looking for in a job.
First, develop a long form story. Not a novella! A story that you can tell that will prompt interest and spark ideas.
Next you need to pare that story down into an “elevator” or garage door” speech. That’s a compelling, informative story that you can tell in the time that it takes to ride an elevator from the ground floor to the third floor. Or, the time it takes for an automatic garage door to close. Because, that’s how much time you’ll have in many cases from the time someone inquires about your search, and the time that they will lose interest.
Opportunity to Improve Your Skill Set
In business we learn that every problem presents an opportunity. In the case of unemployment, the opportunity is self improvement. What professional skills that would help you to be a better candidate do you currently lack? Are there classes or certifications that you can access in order to build that skill set? Are there online resources that you can utilize? These will all make great talking points during your job search conversations.
No, you don’t need to buy radio airtime. But you DO need to tell EVERYONE — and I DO mean EVERYONE about your search. Tell every friend, every relative, every past business associate, vendor or customer. Tell everybody at your church, gym, or book club. This might not come easily at first. But, it is really important that EVERYONE knows that you’re looking and what it is that you’re looking for. You never know when you might spark and idea for an introduction, or an opportunity.
Network, network, network
This is part of the job search where a lot of folks will tend to skimp. You need to get out there, mix and meet with strangers, and tell your story. This is another place where job searches are very much like the sales process. You need to set goals, and hold yourself accountable. And, those goals need to based on outcomes. So, if you want to have 8 to 10 face-to-face meetings with new contact every week (which BTW is a VERY attainable and reasonable goal) then you may need to attend two networking events per week. Broadcast your message on social media and set up live meetings through your connections. Want a good email subject line to use when asking somebody to take time out of their busy schedule to hear your tale? Try this one: “Coffee?” It’s simple, and it gets responses. Then, ask if you can stop by, or meet them for a cup of coffee just to let them know what you’re up to, and get their input. People want to feel helpful. Use it.
Take Every Meeting and Interview You Can Get
Every meeting that you take is an opportunity for you to share your story. And, sometimes it’s not so important that your audience is perfect, or that they have anything to offer you immediately. One-on-one meetings are an opportunity for you to hear yourself tell your own story. The more times you tell that story, hear yourself tell that story, refine the story, and retell the story — the better it’s going to sound.
Find and Use the Available Resources
Check online for local support resources. Is there a local support group for job searchers? Is there a local career development center? Are there any program sponsored by your local public library, or a local church? DO NOT be too proud to reach out. You’re not the only one in this boat, and it can really help you to feel better about yourself to know that you’re not alone, and there are others to support you. BTW: if you find yourself in a room full of negative, depressed, angry, resentful people … get out of there! You’re looking for support, not for collaborative pessimism.
Online Job Searches Are a Crutch
DO NOT rely on web searches, online job boards or recruiters. They should only be one of many tools in your belt. And, they should rank pretty low on the list. Not saying that you should recuse yourself from the chance to use these tools. Just saying that they should account for about one tenth of your complete effort.
It Takes Time
This probably won’t happen overnight. Sure it could happen right away. But, it probably will take longer than you thought. Stick with it. Make mistakes fast. Learn from your errors and keep moving. The right fit IS out there. There is no magic potion for finding it. But, having a plan and a process in your job search (as it is in just about every aspect of business) is key.