10 ways to help yourself in your job search

Help-yourself-in-yourRecently I was helping my son with his algebra, which is a risky endeavor—algebra was never my strong suit. As I was struggling with the assignment, I noticed he was watching something on his iPod.

Hold on, mister, I told him. Who’s supposed to be doing this assignment? It was at this point that I told him he was on his own, and that if he wanted my help, he’d have to do most of the work.

He protested a bit, but an hour later he came to me with every problem answered. Two days later he showed me the homework assignment. Ninety-five percent correct.

If you’re in the job search, you might feel like you need help. This is completely understandable; looking for work can be overwhelming. But if you are like my son and think people will do everything for you, your job search will be a long and disappointed one. Why? Because the job search will take effort from you, a great deal of effort. Here are 10 ways to help yourself in the job search.

Own your job search. When it comes down to it, you are ultimately in charge of your search. Don’t rely on others to take the necessary actions (listed below) of conducting your job search. You won’t feel as though you have a stake in it. You won’t be driven to succeed. You’ll go through the actions, and in the long run you’ll ultimately be unhappy. Don’t let others, including me, tell you what you need from your search; that’s up to you to decide.

Step up your attitude. Again I say it’s important that you present a positive image when you’re looking for a job. I understand how devastating unemployment can be—been there, done that—but always keep in mind that people are more likely to help those who appear positive than those who appear negative.

Whether you realize it or not, your attitude shows in the way you speak, your body language, and the way you act toward others. I certainly can sense a bad attitude and doubt that that person will project confidence in his/her job search. One of my customers always begins his elevator pitch declaring how long he’s been out of work. How does that project confidence?

Don’t expect immediate gratification. The job search can take from less than a month to many months to complete; so to expect to land a job immediately is a bit unrealistic. Those who are successful in the job search will approach it with hope and not give up if it takes longer than expected. They remain focused and don’t let setbacks throw them off their game. You may not realize that people in our industry want you to land your job as soon as possible.

Don’t blame others for your failures.Sometimes people are treated unfairly by their former boss, leading to a bad departure. If you suffered this unfortunate situation, I can empathize with you. But if this is your reason for leaving every position, I will naturally doubt that it was always your boss’ fault.

You will eventually have to figure out how to get along with your next boss and the ones that come after him/her. Accept responsibility for your actions and correct your behavior. I haven’t always had great relationships with my bosses, but I’ve learned from my mistakes. Help yourself by learning from your mistakes.

Write your résumé. Don’t expect others to write your résumé unless you pay them. I will critique your résumé free of charge, but you are responsible for coming up with the content. This means you will tailor your résumé to each job, including the Summary and Experience sections, as well as provide accomplishments that are (hopefully) quantified. Oh, don’t write a seven-page résumé, even though you’ve been told over and over that it should be two to three pages at most.

But please take the time to do it right. Your résumé is your most important document at this time. Don’t produce shoddy work and don’t hand me the same résumé after we’ve sat for half an hour or more discussing how to make it better. Also, if you insist on sending the same résumé to multiple companies and wonder why your’re getting no results, don’t expect me to tell you to continue making the same mistakes.

Network even if it makes you uncomfortable. Even if you hate it. I, like most career professionals, believe networking is the most successful way to land a job. Networking events may not be your thing, so connect with people in your industry and social settings. Arrange to meet with people at a convenient location, or call them if it’s easier for them.

I’m not going to take you to networking events and talk to your former colleagues, neighbors, friends, convenience store owners, etc. However, I’ll encourage you to take those steps and applaud you when you report to me about all the people you met and new opportunities you created. I’ll introduce you to people I know as long as you show you’re invested in your job search.

Engage on LinkedInOr don’t. I’m not a fan of people who join LinkedIn just for the sake of it. To me that’s wasting space on the site. I will support your efforts 100% but not if you come to me with an unfinished profile and expect me to fix it without effort on your part. If you have a decent profile, yet aren’t engaging with you connections, I won’t take you seriously as a LinkedIn user.

I like to tell the story of one of my customers who had a sufficient profile but only 8 connections. When I asked her why she wasn’t connecting and engaging with people on LinkedIn, she told me she only wanted to connect with her friends. I gave her strategies of how to connect and engage with people on LinkedIn. I don’t know if she listen; she hasn’t connected with me.

Prepare for the interview. There’s no getting around it; you must prepare for the interview by researching the position, the company, and even the industry. You’ll be asked questions about all three areas, especially the position. It’s also important to practice answering questions before you go to your interview.

Ask for a mock interview from someone who can film you answering questions and provide you with feedback. I love conducting mock interviews; they reveal a great deal about a person’s body language, the intonation in their voice, and of course the content of their answers.

Take care of post-interview matters. You’ve been told how important it is to follow up an interview with a note, whether it’s email or a note card. You’re the one who is responsible for this and you should take this part of your job search seriously. Try to deliver your note to the interviewer/s desks within 24-hours of the interview.

Keep me in the loop. I recently received an email from one of my customers describing his latest job search activities. Fortunately he landed a consulting position that might lead to full-time work, but I appreciate my customers following up regardless of their situation. It keeps them fresh on my mind so when potential opportunities pop up, I’ll remember them. “Ping me,” is what I tell my customers.

These are 10 ways you can help yourself in your job search. It will take work on your part, but in the end you’ll be more satisfied than if someone will do it all for you. My son was so proud of his 95% algebra score, exclaiming, “Dad, I did it on my own.”

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