At the beginning of the year, I found myself in what seemed like a terrible career disaster. After over a decade of working for my employer, my position (along with many others) was eliminated. Just like that, I was unemployed.
As much as we all hate to be in position, I learned a lot of things about myself, and the job hunt process.
Job hunting is NOT easy. It is very stressful. You have to be dedicated to see success. You have prepare. You have to try, try and try some more. Job hunting is really a job in itself. A career coach told me that a person should be spending 20-25 hours a week job hunting.
I was fortunate in that my former employer provided a career coach and resume services. Through this, I gained discipline and a game plan that ultimately lead to employment within 3 months time. It wasn’t easy, but the plan helped me keep motivated, and on track. I was up to date on what was available, and ready to act whenever a potential employer contacted me.
These 5 tips have proven to be useful for me during my job search:
1.Outline your skill set. You have more than you realize. Look at performance evaluations. Recall projects you’ve been on and feedback people have given you. Translate all of those to skills and then see how they apply to the positions you’re interested in. Research current jobs and companies that you’re interested in. What are they looking for ? Do you have those qualifications? Can you update your skill set based on your findings? Do you need to update your skill set based on what you need? Use what’s out there to determine which jobs fit you, and what you should do to get the jobs you want.
2. Update your resume. Your resume should reflect your responsibilities and experience. You should ensure that you use key words that the job openings indicates. This will mean that you may have different versions of your resume – based on industry, based on role, based on responsibilities. Key words are important – especially if the company uses an ATS (Applicant Tracking System). Under an ATS, the system will track how many times you utilize key words in your resume. If you reach a certain percentage, then your resume may be reviewed for the position. If you’re missing the key words, the system may mark you as a non-priority candidate.
3. Utilize your network! You’d be surprised with what you may find. People may know of something that you can apply to. They may know people who need someone just like you. Or, they can just give friendly advice on how to navigate through this point of your career. Don’t be afraid to ask or work through the network!
There are many different resources online that can compare your resume and the job listing. Utilize these resources and rework your resume as needed. Do so carefully – overdoing this will not make you a genuine candidate. Stay true to what you want to represent as a candidate!
4. Prepare your narrative. While you may not know which exact questions or interview style you’ll run into, you’ll be able to tackle them through your narratives.
Throughout your career, you’ve come across various scenarios where you performed on a high level, or where you had to make some really tough decisions. For example, think of times where you suggested something innovative. What about times where you took the initiative and lead a project? How about that one time you came across a difficult situation and had to analyze and make a decision? All those things can become a part of your narrative.
Use the SOAR model to illustrate your strengths – briefly describe your situation, briefly explain the obstacle, show how you took action and share the results. Be certain to explain the details on what you did.
Outlining 8 – 10 examples under the SOAR model will prepare you for the interview questions. Having this type of number will allow you to use different scenarios for various question types. It will also prevent you from using the same story with interviewers. After all, they will discuss your interview. You want to make an impression from a showcase of your skill sets. That’s going to come from more than just one example.
5. Practice Interviewing! Telling your story isn’t always easy in front of others, especially complete strangers. You want your narrative come out as naturally as you intended it to. The only way to do so is to practice it. Ask friends to ask you various questions (practice questions can be found online). This will help you memorize key points from your examples. The important part is to sound natural, and not memorized.
Another aspect of interviewing includes preparation for the video interview. Some cases, you may have a video interview with your interviewer. In other cases, you may have to record yourself for a timed interview. Both are nerve racking, but some practice will help with the nerves – Take some practice questions and video tape yourself. Time yourself and review the responses. This will help you identify what you need to improve!
Job searching is job in itself. Plan to spend some time daily towards it. This will ensure that you’re on top of what’s available in the market. Work through your network, and try to find out how people can help. They may know of someone, or something that may help you. Working through the process daily will keep you fresh on your capabilities and speaking through them.
If you’re currently in transition, or are seeking your next career opportunity, I wish you the best of luck. It may take time or it may happen suddenly, but the effort will pay off!