You can often find someone to give you an opinion about your resume or your cover letter, but educating your support network about what you really need can open up new opportunities you would not have access to otherwise. A few weeks ago, I wrote a post about the importance of knowing what you want. It is one thing to know what you want, yet another to ensure those around you are also aware of what you’re looking for. Today’s post is about clarifying what you want so you can help your network help you. When others understand what you want, they can ‘keep an ear to the ground’ on your behalf and often lead you to exactly what you’re looking for.
Educate others on how to help – it may seem like a good idea, but receiving countless meaningless job posters from your friends isn’t a good use of your time or theirs. You can help your network by clarifying what you need and teaching them what to look for.
How to get clarity
What job do you want? “I’ll take anything.” is not an answer to the question ‘what job do you want?’ That answer will not help those trying to help you. If you tell me, “Maureen I’m looking for a job” I’m going to ask you question after question until we both have a clear understanding of the type of job you want. No one can help you find a generic job, but people can help you find a specific job, within a specific industry, at a specific company, working with a specific person.
For example, I know Joe (made up name) lost his job last week. Unfortunately, I don’t know much about Joe. I don’t know what kind of job he had, or the kind of job he wants. I don’t know what his interests are, or what he enjoys doing. When I learned about a job opening the other day, I didn’t think of Joe at all, in fact, I’ve forgotten all about Joe.
Conversely, I know Sue (made up name). And I know Sue is a project manager who enjoys working with technology. She told me she’s interested in working at ABC company and that she’d really like to meet the hiring manager to learn more about the company. When I ran into the husband of the hiring manager of ABC company the other day, I immediately thought of Sue and suggested that we connect the pair. Perhaps someone in your network might be willing to do the same for you. Before anyone can help you, you must first help yourself. The best way to do that, is to know your target (what you want). Focus on one or two specific jobs to help identify and clarify what you want to achieve. Then you can educate others on what to watch for.
What industry? Again, “It doesn’t matter” is not an answer. It does matter because you can work in the academic field, political, arts, recreation, tourism, hospitality, military, pharmaceutical…the list goes on and on. The industry you work in matters because there are some industries you are strictly opposed to and some that may hold your interest for the rest of your career. Spend time identifying the industries in which you prefer to work and you’ll have much more success finding the right company. This will also benefit you, because you’ll enjoy the work you do, after you land the job.
Motivating yourself to find a job you like is hard enough, imagine trying to motivate yourself to find a job you know you won’t like – that’s a tough pill to swallow? I have seen clients divide their attention among multiple jobs, industries, and companies with a sort of ’hail-mary-pass’ approach, thinking that job search is a numbers game. It isn’t. It is about focusing on what you want, and pursing your target. When clients fail to do this they are often de-motivated and feel utterly rejected when the companies (where they didn’t want to work in the first place) discard their application.
What company? You’ll probably guess that “Any company will do”, isn’t a very good answer to this question. It does matter. This doesn’t mean you have to know the exact name of the company you’re going to work for (though it would certainly help), it means you can start researching the names of organizations that interest you so you know a little about them. There are good companies and bad companies out there. Some treat their employees well, some don’t. Some have great benefits and compensation and others don’t. Some are located 3+ hour commute from home and some are around the corner. Trust me when I tell you – the company matters. Do research on what is important to you and come up with a list of companies who share the same values. What companies would you love to work for (write these down and focus on them).
Who do you know? This is a great question because once you have an answer to this question, suddenly your job search becomes action-able. Someone you know might introduce you to someone in one of these companies. Or perhaps someone you know, knows someone who could introduce you? Once you know that you need to meet with John Smith to learn more about company ABC, you’ll know your next step is to identify how to introduce yourself: email, phone, social media, in-person, through a network contact? Any of these will do nicely.
You may look at this approach to job search and find it to be too simple. Yet this approach, when applied, has helped hundreds of my clients find the work they wanted. Job search is not easy. It is hard work. With the right plan and direct focus on what you want to achieve, you’ll get through the tough parts much more quickly than most. And when you combine the right focus with the right plan, that’s going to save you money, time, and heart-ache because you’ll be back to work faster.