Focus your energy, expand your network, improve your presentation—and watch your job search take off.
Although we currently have a job market where there are more openings than job applicants, there’s always a challenge of getting noticed for opportunities that you wish to get noticed for. Here are three ways to ensure you’re moving forward and not just spinning your wheels.
Find a Focus for Your Search
As the saying goes, if you don’t know where you’re going, how will you know when you get there? Do you know, for example, what your job target is? What skills, abilities, values, and interests you bring to a position? What demand there is for the work you want to do? An effective search demands focus.
To understand yourself better, do a career self-assessment, take time to reflect on past
accomplishments, and write down things you’re passionate about. If you’re not good at this kind of self-reflection, ask a trusted friend, family member, or colleague for feedback. What do they see as your strengths, weaknesses, and possible roles? This may be a difficult but usually beneficial discussion.
Some government agencies can also provide resources for you job search, such as this link from the MN Department of Employment and Economic Development (DEED): https://mn.gov/deed/job-seekers/job-guide/
To learn more about a job target or current trends in the job market, commit to doing some serious research. Doing research of some kind is imperative. Online articles from magazine or newspapers sources, blog posts at various career sites, and even going to the library can still be a valuable place to find directories on industries and professional organizations.
If you’re looking for employment trends, here are some great links to consider:
Occupational Outlook Handbook: https://www.bls.gov/ooh/
Career One Stop: https://www.careeronestop.org/
Reach Out through Networking
If you’re isolated from others, your job search will be that much slower. If you don’t currently have a network, don’t despair. Start by asking your friends, family, or colleagues for help or referrals. This will give your job search some much-needed momentum.
In addition, take advantage of job transition groups in your community. These groups, which meet at work centers, libraries, and other venues, allow you meet others with similar goals, share ideas, and start building your network. Even during the Covid 19 pandemic, various job transition groups have met virtually or in person. Here are two sites to consider:
Wooddale Church has provided transition/search resources for decades: https://jobtransition.net/
Career Force has job support groups (MN): https://www.careerforcemn.com/workshop-category/job-clubtransition-supportnetworking-group
Perhaps the best networking resource I’ve seen in recent years is the book “The 20-Minute Networking Meeting”. Marcia Ballinger with Nathan Perez provide a compact, step-by-step process for staying focused in your networking meeting and winning people over as advocates of your search efforts.
Polish Your Presentation
As you start to get out there and interact with others, the way you describe yourself and what you offer becomes critical to your success. Two aspects of your presentation to be particularly aware of: articulating your key marketing points and polishing your nonverbal presentation.
To articulate your key marketing points effectively, you must have a clear idea of what you offer and how you’re different. This is where the focus mentioned earlier is critical. Know what value you bring that distinguishes you from the competition, and be able to communicate it concisely. Today, individuals need to understand the concept of “brand”, whether it’s in an interpersonal interaction or on your LinkedIn webpage. William Arruda & Kirsten Dixson illustrate the power of standing out in their book “Career Distinction: Stand Out by Building Your Brand.” As you interact with others during networking and at interviews, how you look, smile, sit, stand, and
make eye contact can all have a major impact. In addition, a positive attitude, confident voice, and good listening skills help drive your message and clinch that all-important interview.
If you’re a professional, most everyone uses LinkedIn to standout –a business/professional version of Facebook is how I describe to people unfamiliar with the site. According to Maddy Osman of the Kinsta Blog (February 17, 2020), there are nearly 740 million LinkedIn members across 200 countries, by far the best social network for lead generation that exists. People get noticed by writing articles/posts, making comments on others’ posts, and they can give you the appearance of being a “thought leader” or at least a capable expert. Each LinkedIn member provides a unique profile and this is where you can describe your strengths and “brand”. This will allow others to see what you “bring to the table”.
Regardless of good or bad market conditions, being focused, connected, and polished in your presentation, will enable you to be in a better position to get noticed and land the job that’s right for you.
Dean R. DeGroot is a licensed psychologist career consultant and owner of Innerview Consulting. His efforts have allowed others to gain new tools and insights and explore new possibilities for social and career connection. Dean has published journal articles in the UK on career practices. Recently he launched the book “Game Plan: An Insider’s Guide to Effective Career Assessment”, along with his co-author, Liz Willis.