Based on what we have been seeing over the past year–and more–job search in 2013 will not be for the faint of heart. If you want or need to plan and conduct a job search next year, you will need to have several things, not the least of which is enough determination to overcome the numerous obstacles that could and possibly will pop up to block your path to a new job or career.
To quote Mr. William Shakespeare: “Our doubts are traitors, and make us lose the good we oft might win by fearing to attempt.” In colloquial terms, you can’t complete the dash for home plate if you never even get to first base. And, as Sydney J. Harris (an American journalist for the Chicago Daily News and later the Chicago Sun-Times, who died in 1986) tells us: “Regret for the things we did can be tempered by time; it is regret for the things we did not do that is inconsolable.”
Job Search 2013: Borrow Nike’s Slogan and “Do It”
I recently read a thought-provoking book by Peter McWilliams called Do It! Let’s Get Off Our Buts. In fact, that’s where I first saw the quote from Mr. Harris. It’s the kind of book you need to read and then re-read–at least once or twice–to get the full benefit. Also, it probably makes the book more effective if you do the exercises it provides. I have to confess, I haven’t done that yet; however, I initially read the book for pleasure, rather than as part of an action plan for self-improvement. However, I do want to share McWilliams’ view of what constitutes a career: “You have a career or profession when what you love doing most is what you also get paid for doing.” That’s how I feel about the work I do with and for my clients, and it’s how I sincerely want them to feel about the work they do for current and future employers.
Countless obstacles could stand in your way to a successful job search or career in 2013. No one promised the search would be easy–or if someone did, he/she was deceiving you, either intentionally or unintentionally. However, you can’t afford to let obstacles intimidate you into spinning your wheels or backpedaling, if achieving your goal is essential to your well-being–emotionally, physically, professionally or all of the above.
5 Job Search Tips for 2013
- Outline a plan that will have you up-and-running by January 1 (if not before).
- Build flexibility into your plan–remember that obstacles can crop up unexpectedly.
- Marshal your job search resources–people, time, money, whatever else you might need. If you don’t have all your ducks lined up yet, start working on that now.
- Take a quick look backward (over this past year) to see where you veered off track, slipped up in some way or otherwise didn’t make the progress you had aimed for. Use that quick review as a launchpad for your 2013 planning–starting with what needs to change and when.
- Allow yourself opportunities to recharge your batteries between now and the end of the year–quiet time with family, a trip you’ve been putting off, a good book you want to read or a movie you’ve been waiting to see, whatever will rejuvenate your energy and strengthen your ability to surmount any obstacles you encounter in your job search 2013 activities.
My Wish for Your Job Search 2013 Success
Actually, it’s more than a wish. It’s an affirmation. I believe you can do much more than you think you can, even if you don’t always see a clear path at the start. Give yourself credit for that…and don’t give up if the going gets rough. Persistence can pay off when you least expect it.
You might understand that your resume becomes part of the hiring process as soon as you start submitting it to prospective employers for positions you know they have open. However, you might not realize some of the ins and outs of how recruiters and hiring managers deal with your resume as part of their hiring process. I believe any insights you can get into that could prove useful in conducting a successful job search. That’s why I particularly enjoyed reading a new article by Dr. John Sullivan, “What’s Wrong with Using Resumes for Hiring? Pretty Much Everything.”
Problems regarding resumes and the hiring process
I’ve read a number of articles by Dr. Sullivan, and I don’t always agree with everything he says, but this article makes a lot of good points, so I highly recommend reading the whole thing (I can only touch on a few high spots in this post). Sullivan lists 30 problems and divides them into 5 categories:
- Top 5 factors that most negatively impact the quality of hire.
- Content-related resume problems.
- Non-job-related factors that could impact the quality of the submitted resume.
- Format-related resume problems.
- Problems with the typical resume assessment/screening process.
Job seekers’ perspective on resumes and the hiring process
Sullivan’s articles are generally written from the perspective of HR/recruiting professionals, but he does sometimes include points that can be useful to you as a job seeker. For example, in this article he mentions the following:
“Resumes do not include information on all of the key assessment criteria – candidates are generally assessed on four criteria: 1) are they qualified? 2) are they available? 3) are they interested? and 4) do they fit? Because most resumes are really simply job histories, they thus only address the first criterion … are they qualified?….If you ask candidates a simple question — Does your resume accurately reflect what you are capable of doing? – the answer is almost always no.”
My comment here is that your resume absolutely should not be just a “job history” and absolutely should reflect, to the greatest extent possible and reasonable, “what you are capable of doing” for the prospective employer. Otherwise, it will probably make you sound like all the other applicants who are pursuing that position. Standing out from the competition as a highly qualified and potentially valuable candidate is what it’s all about! If you’re simply #499 in a line of 500 applicants, why should the company want to consider you?
And here’s another critical point: “The candidate’s job results may be impossible to verify — many candidates fail to include the results and quantify their accomplishments, making the quality of their work difficult to assess. Others include results and numbers that may be exaggerated. Unfortunately, in most cases it is simply impossible for the resume reader to verify the accuracy of these numbers.”
What can you do about that? Possibly several things, but especially these:
- Use only facts (statistics, etc.) you are comfortable discussing in an interview. That means, for starters, that you know you achieved those results and can speak about them confidently. Also, you’ve presented them in a way that doesn’t violate the company’s confidentiality rights.
- Stick to the facts and provide solid support that indicates their validity, even if you can’t provide all the details in the resume. Whenever possible, use facts that can probably be verified in some way.
- If you can, use independent, third-party testimonials and verification in your resume. For example, a short quote from a senior manager or someone else with clear relevance to the situation can make a point that it’s hard for you to make on your own behalf. You don’t necessarily even need to use the person’s name, but his/her title (position) should be noted.
Again, I encourage you to read Sullivan’s entire article. It’s worth the few minutes it will take.
Whether or not you consider yourself a well-organized person, it’s likely that adopting a relatively organized approach to your current or next job search will produce worthwhile benefits. The process of finding and capturing a new job has become more and more complex in recent years, and that trend appears likely to continue into the future–possibly even at a faster rate than it has done in the past. Unless you have an encyclopedic mind and can also manage multiple, sometimes conflicting priorities at a time without missing something, a degree of organization is essential to a successful job search. That’s true whether you’re a senior executive or a recent college graduate with limited business experience.
Why use checklists for your job search?
Checklists enable you to accomplish several desirable goals, including the following:
- Lay out all the critical steps you need to take and develop an approximate order and timeline for completing them.
- Identify “missing pieces”: possibly useful actions you might not otherwise have considered.
- Track your progress and spot actions that haven’t been completed yet but need to be done soon.
They’re also customizable to your preferred style of operating. You can make them as simple or as involved as you choose, because you’re the only one who is going to use them. If challenges arise and you need to reschedule an item on your list, no one is going to hassle you about that. As long as you’re fine with it, it’s okay.
What kind of checklists should you use?
As mentioned above, you get to choose how you develop and use your job search checklist. You can design your own or get ideas from lists that others have used and tailor them to fit your needs. There’s no hard-and-fast rule about the type of checklist. Personally and as a business owner, I like project checklists that give me a column for the target completion date and another column to check the items as I complete them. That style can work well for a job search, too. You can also make use of a number of high-tech tools, including resources like JibberJobber.com, to help you manage the list.
You can and probably will want to incorporate a variety of items in your job search checklist. The following are useful to include:
- Source of the position you’re pursuing (online posting, referral from a friend or colleague, etc.)
- Company, title and brief description of the position
- Date you submitted your resume and cover letter or other materials
- Return contact(s) you received (phone, email, letter, etc.)
- Dates of interviews scheduled and completed
The beauty of using checklists for your job search is that it helps you manage diverse important tasks even while other demands on your time and attention preclude devoting your full time to the job search. It’s easy to keep tabs on what’s happening, what you have and haven’t done, and so on, without making yourself crazy over it. Job searching can be enough of a hassle without subjecting yourself to that!