A Q&A conversation with Rachel Van de Vooren, Client Happiness Manager & Shirin Khamisa, Founder & Practice Leader, Careers by Design
Rachel: Shirin, If you really need a job, should you cast the widest net possible? Apply for anything you can?
No. It’s really important to target the right position.
Most people know this but when the stress of being unemployed starts to take a toll, they decide that they can’t afford to be too picky. This has the opposite effect of what they were hoping for.
When the search is too broad, your efforts can get diluted. While it feels contrary to our instincts, especially when the market is tight, being focused on the right job will really help you get further in your search! You will have a focus for where to look for opportunities and who to talk to.
Rachel: How can I best use my network?
People want to help you. Help them to help you by clearly communicating what type of opportunity you are looking for.
A common pitfall our coaches see is people reaching out to their network and asking if anyone knows of any openings but not specifying what they are looking for.
Another mistake people often make is assuming people know what they have to offer. It’s important to be able to communicate a strong professional brand to the people who can help you.
Rachel: What if a job seeker isn’t well connected?
Many people really underestimate their network, and it’s common to feel like you don’t have much support.
We challenge our clients to identify 5 or 6 people to start with. The best place to start is with those who are closest to you, people you really know and trust. You’ll be surprised how many supportive people are around you and how fast your network can grow.
Rachel: What if a job seeker has a large network but they have tapped out their network?
Most of us are better at giving than receiving. Many clients with a large network feel reluctant to continue to keep in touch with the people who can help them because they feel embarrassed or reluctant to ask for help.
The job search can take longer these days and it’s important to stay connected to your network and remind them about what you are looking for.
Rachel: So what are some of these best strategies for networking?
The best strategies depend on your personality and communication style.
It’s key to leverage your strengths.
If you are better meeting with people and connecting one on one, make coffee dates or Skype calls a large part of your strategy. If you thrive on working the room, attend industry events and professional development events. Make sure you also add activities that move you out of your comfort zone and make you stretch!
Rachel: How can social media help job searchers be more strategic?
Using sites such as LinkedIn helps us to learn about people and what we have in common. We no longer have to “go in cold” and can establish trust in new relationships more quickly.
Many people don’t actually know how to use LinkedIn effectively and so don’t see results, but there are great strategies for using social media to start building relationships.
Rachel: What is the one thing to keep in mind that most people forget?
Make it a priority to keep your spirits up: the longer we are unemployed, the harder it can be to get outside of our comfort zones and make connections with others. A job search takes time, and we need to remember to be kind to ourselves and recharge our batteries during this process. Get more tips here.
Rachel: What is important to know about the job search?
Job search requires many skills that we don’t use in our day to day lives.
Take the time to learn how to do a good job search and build the skills.
Hiring a professional to help you to navigate the process can save you lots of time. There are so many things to learn, and things have changed so much!
It is worth the investment, and can cut down on the time you spend being out of work. People often feel “but I have the time and I should be able to do this on my own", but it’s challenging to be able to see yourself clearly. A third party professional who is trained to seek out your blind spots can be very revealing and can make that critical difference in an interview situation.
Working with a coach can give you new insights into yourself, what you want, and can help you create a strong professional brand.
Also, people tend to get isolated when they have not been working for a while.
So it is important to reach out, stay connected, and get professional support when you need it.
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