Simplify your job search by dividing it into manageable phases.
Over the weekend, an estimated 2.5 million spectators lined the route of the 2014 Tour de France to cheer on the cyclists as they completed the first stage of this famous competition. The 101st Tour de France is composed of 21 different stages, covering a total distance of 3,664 kilometers over the course of 23 days. The athletes will be taken through all sorts of terrains, from relatively easy, flat stages, to hill and mountain stages in high altitude.
If you’re currently searching for a new position, you can probably relate to the cyclists competing in ‘Le Tour.’ As a job seeker, you will also be taken on a journey that is sure to produce some highs and lows along the way. To help you navigate this process smoothly, I’d like to show you how I break down the job search into three main phases: (1) Prepare, (2) Search, and (3) Close.
Stage 1: Prepare
Preparation is the key to a successful job search. Before you can pursue new job leads, you have to be clear on what you want to do next, and this will influence how you position your experience and skills as qualifications for these roles. The legwork below may seem like a lot, but it saves you a great deal of time and frustration further down the line.
- Job Goals: Take inventory of strengths and interests to identify a specific job goal for your search. This information will inform all the other actions you take during the job-search process.
- Resume & Cover Letter: Craft a resume that supports your goals by showcasing your most relevant qualifications. While each application will require some tailoring, you should be able to build a cover letter template to work off.
- Online Brand: Google your name to assess your existing eReputation. It’s important that your online brand tells the same story as your resume – make sure your name, education and work history are consistent across all your professional profiles. Increase the security settings on any social media accounts that are unrelated to your professional brand so no employer will find them.
- Elevator Pitch: Your elevator pitch should explain what you’re great at and passionate about, and how you can provide value to a prospective employer. Be prepared to modify your pitch depending upon the audience and occasion.
- References: Target three solid people who have insight into your experience and capabilities and you trust to say good things about you and your work. Once your contacts agree to be references, send them a current copy of your resume and provide a run-down of your elevator pitch so they understand your job goals.
Stage 2: Search
This phase of the job search is dedicated to identifying and pursuing job leads that align with your job goals and match your skill set. It’s important to use multiple methods during this stage to help you find the most opportunities, including those ‘hidden’ jobs that aren’t published online. When you combine these methods – such as leveraging your network to get an employee referral for your job application – you increase your chances of landing the right job, sooner.
- Job Applications & Follow-up: Target opportunities where you meet the core requirements for the role. Then edit your job application so your goals and qualifications are obvious. Incorporate key terms from your targeted job’s requirements into your resume to ensure it makes it past the electronic gatekeeper.
- Utilizing Recruiters: Recruiters can be a valuable source of job leads and company insight. Develop a recruiter outreach strategy to target specific individuals that source for positions in your field. Use these sample messages to reach out to new recruiters each and every week.
- Networking: Take stock of your existing professional and personal networks to identify those who are in the best position to help you with your job goals. Continue to expand your group of connections in and out of the office and don’t discount those you meet through your social activities. While they may not work in your field, who’s to say they don’t know someone who does?
Stage 3: Close
Expect this stage of your job search to begin while you’re still pursuing job leads. As you nurture different relationships and follow up on job applications, you’ll begin receiving interview requests. During this phase, both you and the employer will be evaluating one another to make sure the right person is placed into the right opportunity – and at the right price.
- Interviews & Follow-up: Interviewing is also a three-step process. How you prepare and what you do afterwards is just as important as what happens when you’re sitting in the interview room pitching your skills.
- Negotiation: This is a crucial part of the interview process. By not properly negotiating your compensation package, you could miss out on hundreds of thousands of dollars over the course of your career. Do your research and be prepared to negotiate with confidence.
- Onboarding: Consider the first 90 days of any new position to be an extension of the interview process. Click on the following link for a list of onboarding tips that will help you transition to your new role as smoothly and successfully as possible.
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Amanda Augustine is the Job Search Expert for TheLadders. She provides job search and career guidance for professionals looking to make their next career move. Have a question for Amanda? Submit your question here for a chance to have it answered in her weekly column, and be sure to follow her at @JobSearchAmanda on Twitter and “Like” her on Facebook for up-to-the-minute job-search advice.