This past week’s jobless data depressed stock prices and the hopes of several readers who asked if there is any chance of their finding employment in 2009. My knee-jerk reaction is “of course, you’re going to find a job. . .but it might not be what you had in mind when you started your search.”
The mid-point of 2009 is a logical time to assess the job search process and make strategy adjustments.
During my last job search many years ago, my wife would come home from work and ask what I did that day to advance my job prospects. She rightfully became suspicious since my deepening tan suggested I was devoting less and less time to the search process. It’s easy to slack off after an intensive couple of months of searching, and not getting any positive traction. Nevertheless, it’s critical to make your job search a full-time job. Besides a resume, be sure to write and regularly update a written action plan that includes goals, target agencies/companies, and actions-taken check list.
I found helpful advice on how to measure a job search via Tim Tyrell-Smith’s Spin Strategy blog. Tim suggests the following five ways to determine if your job search is on the right track:
How do you know if you are on the right track? What indicates that you are doing the right things to maximize your chances to land that next great role? Are you looking for a horseshoe faced the right way or a lucky clover?
Well, there are signs, of course.
Here are some you won’t find. You won’t find a “GREAT INTERVIEW!” sign. It’s unlikely that a recruiter you just met will hold up a card that says: “STOP: MY NEXT PLACEMENT ON BOARD”. Finally, don’t keep your eyes peeled for a “YIELD, TOP CANDIDATE MERGING AHEAD”.
No, the signs are more subtle than these.
So, what are the real signs that things are going well?
1. People in your network are responding to you.I mean, really responding. You are getting additional names of people to call who are in your field. You are being forwarded jobs they thought you might like. They are sending you names of additional recruiters, and better yet, they are calling those recruiters themselves to introduce you. They are having coffee with you and inviting other working friends of theirs to join. They are spending significant time with you to share their learnings from a recent search.
WHAT YOU DID RIGHT: You built a networking strategy that identified all of the potential micro networks in your life and set a plan as to how you would access them and how often. You kept track of your contacts and followed up after each interaction. You used them appropriately and did not ask more than they could give. You said thank you each and every time they stuck their neck out for you.
2. You get e-mails from job search sites and executive recruiters. They fit your desired next title, geography and industry. Your e-mail volume is more of a efficient stream than a torrential river. Recruiters are calling you directly looking to get your feedback on their positions.
WHAT YOU DID RIGHT: You took the time to create clear and specific profiles on the major job search sites. This allows job alerts to be targeted back to you. By doing so, you also avoided receiving (and being distracted by) jobs below your target level, outside of your industry or geography. While you are receiving fewer e-mails, each one has the power to move your search along in a meaningful way. You focused your attention on a few of the better sites, but you made sure you were listed on all the big ones with a full profile. You also made sure you were listed on Linkedin, Plaxo and other networking sites with helpful details on your background. Value? You made sure recruiters could find you.
3. Here come the phone interviews. You get calls and e-mails from researchers at the large recruiters wanting to review your background for a new search. Some hiring managers will call directly to get a feel for your style over the phone before inviting you down.
WHAT YOU DID RIGHT: You did a nice job marketing yourself both in person and in your materials. You created a solid resume that told your story in a crisp and compelling way. Your resume accomplishments were material, measurable and meaningful. Your cover letter introduced you without giving anyone an excuse to filter you out of their in box.
4. Welcome to the first round interview. More often than not, you are getting calls back within hours or a day of your phone interviews. When they call back there is a sense of kinship with the HR person (that says they are quietly rooting for you). They may offer a few tips on who you’ll be interviewing with or how to dress.
WHAT YOU DID RIGHT: You were interesting, fun to talk to and asked engaged questions about the role. You were not wordy in your responses but provided crisp, full answers. (Note Tim’s phone interview tips as well as Culpwrit phone tips).
5. People at the hiring company start asking leading and more social questions. Where else have you interviewed? Are you considering any other offers? How do you like the (pick city) area?
WHAT YOU DID RIGHT: You clearly communicated your specific ability and desires to each interviewer in a way that made them feel smart to like you. You took the time to answer each question properly and targeted the answer. You asked tough, meaningful questions that asserted your position as “the buyer” not a hopeful candidate. You were interesting and took over the interview if it got slow.
What signs are you seeing?