Job Search Tool Kit

Everyone needs a little help during a job search.

Everyone needs a little help during a job search.

Everywhere I turn, I talk to people who are looking for new job. Whether you were laid off, are underemployed, or just anxious to move on, you know it is a tough job market. You don’t need me to tell you that. What I want to do is encourage you. Sure, it’s tough, but that doesn’t mean that you can’t find a great job that suits your goals and engages your abilities.

When you are looking for a new job, there are many layers of details that require your attention.

  • Your goals drive your job search. Get clear about what kind of job is going to be a perfect match for you this time around.
  • Your network helps you spread the word that you are available and sends you leads to help you focus your search.
  • Your resume is your ticket for admission to the interview and hiring process.
  • Your attitude determines how well you perform in each of the other areas.

Here’s my advice for how to start your new job search, or how to revitalize your search if you have been looking for a while.

What Do You Want?

Before you spend time on the other layers, spend some time thinking about the kind of work you want. What is your employment goal? And I mean something more specific than “I want a job that pays my bills.” Paying the bills is important, but if that is the only reason you take a job, you won’t find it very satisfying.

Really take some time to make an inventory list of the kinds of things you have loved to do in the past. It doesn’t matter if you were not paid for doing them. Figuring out what you love is the first step to finding work that you love, and a job that will engage you.

If you are not sure what you love or what you want to do, give yourself an assignment. Start keeping a list of things that make you happy, no matter what they are. If you catch yourself feeling happy, write it down. After a while, you will have enough information to start deciphering what makes you happy for work.

How can you tell if your job engages you? All jobs have icky parts, and there are days (or weeks) where you are not so crazy about work. That’s all normal. But for me, this is the acid test. How do you feel on Sunday night? I used to get the Sunday night blues when I was forcing myself to stay at a job where I wasn’t happy. When your job engages you, you endure the normal rough patches.

If you have a list of skills, things that you can do, ask yourself what do you want to do and emphasize that going forward. There is no point in getting job that mostly uses a skill that you don’t enjoy just because you can do it.

Who’s On Your Team?

Your network is the group of people who are supporting your job search. There are many types of people that can make up your team.

  • Family and friends who encourage you to find work that you enjoy.
  • Co-workers or past employers who serve as references.
  • Mentors or coaches who help you work through your job search challenges.
  • Recruiters who help to connect you to suitable open positions
  • Peers who help spread the word that you are looking and send leads to you.

There are other team members who are not people who can help you, also. It’s important that you connect to these services during your job search, also.

  • Job boards that allow you to post your resume for potential employers to review.
  • Networking sites like LinkedIn that post your work history and recommendations.
  • Social media sites where you can talk to your peers to get leads.
  • Blogs and websites that provide practical tips and encouraging advice during your journey.

Make sure that you are reaching out and have everyone on your team that could help you.

Got Your Ticket?

Your resume is the most important item in your job search. And yet, most people would rather visit the dentist than rework their own resume (my apologies to the many outstanding dentists out there!).

If you feel any sort of negative feeling about your resume, or if your job search seems to be stalled right now, let me give you a little advice about resumes.

  • There are trends in resume writing, just like there are trends in other things, like fashion. A resume that was perfectly solid 5 years ago may still be solid, but may also appear outdated when it lands in a large stack.
  • Try on a new resume idea. Instead of thinking of your resume as your comprehensive work history, think of it as your invitation for an interview. It doesn’t have to tell the whole story. You can fill in the details at the interview. Maybe you can just include the relevant experience for the open position and shorten your resume considerably.
  • Do you best to separate your sense of self-worth from your resume. Your resume is just a piece of paper. You are a fully dimensional person who can never be fully represented on a sheet of paper, no matter how elegantly written.
  • Ask members of your team to review your resume. Be open to their suggestions about things to omit or reword, and ask them to find any typos or grammar errors. In fact, you might want to find someone with good language skills to help you edit your resume before sending it out.

Are You Feeling Great About You?

It’s normal to feel nervous when you are putting yourself out there for a new job. The real trick is to figure out how to use that nervousness to help you prepare for interviews and land the job. Here’s some tips about how to feel great about yourself in between your job search activities.

  • Look at yourself in the mirror and say truthful things to yourself, like: “I always give 100% to my jobs and that makes me a great employee” and “I bring many talents and gifts to each job that are not captured on my resume.” Get specific about these things. Say them over and over until you feel yourself growing more confident.
  • Write a favorite inspirational quote on a piece of paper or sticky note and put it where you can see it last thing before you walk into an interivew, or before you start looking online for jobs. One of my favorite quotes is “Whether you think you can or think you cannot, you are always right” by Henry Ford.
  • Find that one upbeat friend to be your job search buddy. This is the person to call when you feel doubts. The trick is to avoid talking about your doubts, but instead, ask your friend to remind you about all of the great things about you. After a few minutes of hearing these things, you should be back on track.
  • Focus on the company during the interview. Ask your interviewer what challenges they face, what skills are critical for the position, and other details about their situation. This gives you an opportunity to focus your statements on how you can help them, instead of just talking about yourself in a random way. When I focus on how I can solve problems for other people, I stop being nervous.

Resources

Here are some of my favorite job search resources. Use these to start building your own non-person support team.

  1. Blog post: “Use LinkedIn To Your Advantage” on From the Crow’s Nest.
  2. Blog post: “Write A Love Letter To Your New Job” on From the Crow’s Nest.
  3. Blog post: “The Rumors Are True: Hiring Managers Use Social Media To Evaluate Job Candidates” on From the Crow’s Nest.
  4. Blog post: “Resumes For The Text-Messaging World” on From the Crow’s Nest.
  5. Blog post: “5 Truths About Working From Home” on From the Crow’s Nest.
  6. Blog post: “Staying Positive Through A Layoff” on The Positivity Blog.
  7. Online article: “10 Things To Do The Day After You Are Laid Off” on U.S. News and World Report.
  8. Online article: “When Your Job Hunt Is Stalled” on U.S. News and World Report.
  9. Work and job search advice from Working Girl.
  10. Advice for getting unstuck and setting yourself free from The Fluent Self.
  11. Advice for leaving your job to start your own business from Escape From Cubicle Nation.

Did this help? Drop me a comment. Feel free to add your own resources in the comments as well. Times are tough, the more we can help each other, the better we all are!

About author:

Charlene is the information strategist behind Crow Information Design.

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