1. Looking for a job IS a job. Treat searching for a job like a real job. Put in a solid 8-10 hours a day; always striving to get in front of people who can hire you.
2. What do you want out of life? Early in the process, try to think a lot about what you really would like to do with the rest of your life. Many of us have just drifted from job to job over the years and have never really taken charge of our careers. Being out of work is a good time to give this topic a lot of thought.
3. Simplify your life and lower your expenses as much as possible. Those two moves enabled me to be in a position to start my own executive search firm in June of 1999. Had I “taken over my career” earlier, I might have been able to make that move ten years sooner…but my life was too complicated and I could have never afforded that kind of move from a financial standpoint.
4. Work should be fun & fulfilling. It’s real important to have a job that provides you with an opportunity to do the kinds of things that you like to do. Otherwise, you are like a slave to your lifestyle and the money that it requires. Now that I am doing what I really like, it looks like the money will be there as well.
5. Keep cost of living low. Start right now with a commitment to spend less than you make. Like the “Millionaire Next Door”, earning lots of money is not the answer…the real secret is having a positive cash flow and spending a lot less than you make.
6. Being happy at work. Here is my list of six things one needs to feel in order to be happy while working for someone else:
Did you have all of those things in your last job? Have you ever had all of those things in a job? I only had all six in one job and then it was only for about three years. If you haven’t had those things, then you might go back and try to figure out what you should be doing in order to get what you want out of your career. By the way, notice that a hefty salary did not make my list…I actually conceived of this list when I was earning a half million dollars a year (in 1992) and did not feel even one of the six things mentioned above.
7. Go see a career counselor, industrial psychologist, therapist, whomever…and delve into your inner self; making sure that you point yourself in the right direction at this critical crossroad of your life.
8. Back to getting interviews. Try not to turn down any real interviews. At a minimum, you will add polish to your own presentation and you just may get a lead that will result in your finding exactly what you are seeking. You also might make a contact that will benefit you in some unknown way several years down the road.
9. Negotiation comes last. Don’t be so quick to talk about the fact that you don’t want to move or that you don’t like the way the company is structured or whatever you might say or do that would lessen the chance of you getting an offer. I always tell our candidates…until you get an offer, you don’t have a decision to make. After you get the offer, you can then work on negotiating any other things you might like to see as well as carefully determining if this is indeed the right step for you at the time.
10. Be precise, be honest. Keep the “O’leary Factor” in mind when preparing your resume or career summary (He was the Notre Dame coach who lasted about a week…until they found out that he lied on his resume). Make sure that you are precise & accurate and that you do not imply anything at all that is untruthful. A good interviewer will eventually find out the real truth; so any attempt on your part to mislead the headhunter will only serve to prevent you from meeting the client.
11. My own philosophy on resumes: Use multiple versions as the situation warrants, but prepare at least one SINGLE PAGE IMPACT resume. It should grab the attention of whoever is going to spend the national average of 15 seconds looking at it. My personal preference is that all resumes have start and end dates for each position and graduation dates from college.
12. One final point…GET CREATIVE. Example…My son interviewed for a job a few years ago and really felt like it was the IDEAL place for him to work. Unfortunately, they did not feel his background was appropriate since he had just graduated from college and had no meaningful work experience. I suggested that if he really wanted the job that he propose that he work for the summer as an intern at whatever wages they chose to pay.
Under his proposal, either party could end the relationship after 90 days with no hard feelings whatsoever. I told him at the very least that they would probably be in a position to help him find his next job. Guess what? He got the job and was made a permanent member of the firm in less than 100 days…he wound up flourishing in the environment and spent almost four years there before moving on to a great new position in Supply Chain Management with Staples in Boston…that was easy!
Good luck to you as you sort out your career and set your sails for your new horizons. We hope that you have found this special “Jobseekers” section helpful.