3 key steps to start your job search

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When you decide it is time to look for a new job — even if the new job is inside your current company, deciding what to do first can initially seem daunting. There is a lot to do, typically, because you haven’t looked for a job recently. Your job skills have changed, your accomplishments have changed; you’ve changed. Where to start?

The way I would approach getting ready for a job search starts with three critical key steps. Let’s take a look at each one.

Update your Resume

Now, everyone knows you need to update your resume before submitting for any jobs. What most people do, though, is just add in what they have done since the last time they updated their resume and then let it fly. That can work, but you’ll increase your chances of getting interviews that you want if you really stop and look at your entire resume and decide if what you have in the resume still makes sense.

Here are the areas to look at:

  • Your contact information, specifically your email address. You should ditch your unprofessional email address and consider having an email address just for career stuff.
  • Your job skills. What job skills are new to you and what ones should you remove (Microsoft Project 2003 doesn’t cut it any more…)
  • Your accomplishments. While adding to the list, it’s also important to cull out what you no longer want to be known for — the “curse of competency.” If you don’t want to be know for outsourcing jobs, seriously look at moving all references to that in your resume.
  • Your employment history. Is it time to remove your first job out of college from your resume that happened 15-years ago? Why, yes.

The reason I go for the resume first is that it is the singular document that you and only you own. Anything that is updated online (e.g., LinkedIn) is putting your career information on a platform you don’t own. Online companies — especially online companies that have their business model be your personal information you access for free — are notorious for changing their algorithm and your data along with it.

Save a copy of your current resume so you always have information in it (mine go back to 2010) in case you need it later. Start with your copied resume and make your edits from there.

Update your LinkedIn profile

Microsoft has grander plans for LinkedIn since they bought the platform. And since most of corporate is based on Microsoft — Office, Project, Server, SQL, and more — LinkedIn is a necessary component to your job search.

Objectively, lots of recruiters use LinkedIn to find candidates. Companies place job openings and job descriptions on LinkedIn. To find and to be found, a good LinkedIn presence is a necessary tool for your job search. Here’s what to consider:

  • Your resume information. This is another reason why I started with the resume first. Much of the information that goes into LinkedIn comes from the resume. And, like the resume, should have additions and deletions to match your current desires for a job.
  • Your tag line. I’ve never been a fan of having that tag line be your job title. Joe Smith — Insurance Adjuster. And I really don’t like “Looking for new opportunities.” Instead, you should provide a tag line that embodies your best, targeted job skill. “Delivering global Cyber Security projects to keep companies safe.”
  • Your compelling story. Resumes require brevity; not in length, but in structure. You don’t really get to do a paragraph about your self in a resume; in LinkedIn, you can. Consider creating a 1-2 paragraph story about how you add value to meeting business objectives, specifically about doing so for the job type you are looking to land.

Review your business network

Resumes and LinkedIn profiles are tools you can use to point people to your skills and accomplishments. They help you get the interview, but they don’t help you find open positions. If you look at how jobs are found, 70-80% of all jobs are found through your business network. Once you find a job opening, then your resume and LinkedIn profile come into play.

Given the importance of your business network in finding a job, reviewing your contacts makes good sense.

  • Be clear on what job and/or company you’d like to target in your job search. This is required to see who in your network either works for the targeted companies, or allows you to ask your contacts if they know anyone who works for your targeted companies. This will lead you to others in your targets and, as a good aside, will also help you expand your business network.
  • Targeted company or not, try and have a discussion with people who are already working in the job you are targeting for yourself. Knowing what is important for their goals, reviews, and business objectives will help you later when you get interviews.
  • Determine specifically what you’ll ask people in your business network. People want to help, more often than not. But you saying something like, “I’m looking for a job — does your company have any openings?” is guaranteed to produce zero leads for you. Determine the specific help you’d like from each contact so that there is a better chance the person will be able to help.

A job search isn’t something you just go into without any preparation. These 3 key areas shouldn’t take you more than about 8-hours to do (unless it has been a really long time since you did a job search – in which case, it is really important you do these preparations). Those 8-hours will save you a time and will help focus your efforts at finding the right job for you.

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