When you are setting up a turnkey job search campaign and trying to tap into the hidden job market, you may happen upon some hurdles that can stop you in your tracks, shake your confidence and cause you to doubt yourself – or tempt you to settle for much less than you know you deserve. Here are 8 common pitfalls and how you can avoid them:
Pitfall #1: Thought Paralysis
Do you find yourself talking your way out of multiple potential opportunities? You may have job search thought paralysis! This can lead to hours of heavy contemplation and internal dialogue concerning each move your make in your job search. Soon hours turn into days and days turn into weeks!
Don’t fall for negative internal dialogue! No one can know what company is hiring internally and you can’t read the minds of potential employers. Countless times my clients have told me that their incredible job opportunity came from the most surprising place or out of the most unique circumstances.
The solution? If in doubt, send your resume anyway.
Pitfall #2: Fear
Bill Briggs was the first man to ski Wyoming’s Grand Tetons. His friends told him it was impossible and he was crazy. On top of that, Bill had a surgically fused hip. He knew he would have to reckon with cliffs thousands of feet high, falling rock and potential avalanches.
Regardless, he took the challenge. Bill stated simply, “If there is no risk, there is no adventure. Adventure is a part of life.”
Your career – and certainly the wild ride of changing jobs – is indeed an adventure, and one that makes demands on your virtues, including your bravery. It is worth giving your job search 100% simply because you are worth the job you want.
How do you get through the fear? By facing it head on. Break the inertia caused by fear with action. Make a list. Do at least one thing right now. Do two more things tomorrow. Three simple steps will get you traction and lead you quickly and positively to more action.
Pitfall #3: Perfection Paralysis
Do you feel like everything has to be perfect before you can move forward? This is a common pitfall that can stop your job search before it even begins. Your goal needs to be progress, not perfection. Although this might not be your motto in other areas of life, when it comes to your job search, the key is implementation.
A client once said to me regarding making follow up phone calls, “I just can’t get it right.” Of course we all need a solid and effective phone script, but the secret isn’t in getting it right as much as it is just getting it done.
The best way to move forward is to make a list regarding whatever project you are working on. Detail each step you need to take. Now make a note of what tasks you can do, what tasks you don’t know how to do, and what tasks you know how to do but don’t want to do. Now you can figure out what you can start on right now, what you need to farm out to someone else, and what you need to hire someone to help you with.
Pitfall #4: Doing Everything Yourself
Not knowing how to do something often acts like quicksand and can stop your whole job search in its tracks. Conducting a job search involves a lot of small parts. One of the reasons why it is so tempting to fall back on job boards is because it has a system. You do A, B, and C and then you’re done. And you feel like you have at least done something.
To avoid this you have to make the things you should be doing manageable. You must create a system so that your job search is turnkey.
There are also the mundane tasks that are associated with a job search. Have you ever figured out how much you make by the hour? If you make around 100k per year at an 8-hour a day / 5-day per week position, you would be making about $48 per hour. So, if you spend hours and hours trying to rewrite your resume yourself, printing out resumes and licking envelopes, you need to ask yourself, “Are these tasks worth $48 an hour?”
Sub this energy draining work out! Hire a resume writer. Go to InstiPrints. Hire a virtual assistant or your own teenager and get them to help you with the administration for a third of the cost of doing it yourself. This way you can concentrate on the big payoff activities that are worth your salary. This will ensure that these important tasks get done and you stay motivated!
Pitfall #5: Not Being Open to Try New Job Search Methods
In this job market you are going to have very little success if all you do is answer a handful of posted jobs. My clients who are having success right now are the ones that are using direct mail programs, learning how to research and use strategies to tap into the hidden job market (actually quite easy), and learning about social networking.
Pitfall #6: Putting All Your Eggs in One Basket
I worked with a client once who secured three interviews a week after I sent her final resume copies. She was so excited and I was excited for her. But when I asked her how her job search strategies were going, she said she was just waiting for her immediate interviews to pan out before she did anything else.
Though I encouraged her not to do this, her mind was made up. Six weeks later, all three potential job opportunities fell through and my client was left with an empty basket and the daunting task of starting all over again from scratch. Moral of the story: keep your pipeline full and your job search activities consistent until your first day at your new company.
Pitfall #7: No Strategy
In order to be successful in your job search, you have to have a foundation of basic goals and a clear understanding of your driving motivators. If you don’t, you’re not going to know what to focus on or where to best invest your time and energy.
I have worked with job seekers who, when they first came to me, shared that they had been in “I’ll know it when I see it” job search mode for over a year with nothing to show for it. So, know what industries you are targeting and why, what your salary goals are, your timeframe and your basic game plan before trying to move forward. You’ll be so glad you did!
Pitfall #8: Work/Life Imbalance
You can’t job search 8 hours a day. Well, you can – but if you do, you will probably be feeling drained and burnt out in no time at all. During a job search you will most likely be experiencing more stress than normal, so it’s important that you take better care of yourself and take more time off then perhaps you are accustomed. This isn’t a luxury! It’s actually a vital part of your successful job search.
Eat right, get plenty of rest and do plenty of those things you love to do. This way you will have enough energy for creativity and strategy. You will be rested, clear-headed and enthusiastic in your job interviews, which will make a positive impression.
So if you see yourself in any one of these pitfalls, take heart and use these simple techniques to break through the hurdles so you can stay focused and confident as you move toward the career opportunity you really want.
Many executives I speak to share with me that they have never had to look for a job before – the jobs came to them. And even though in recent years the market is tougher, it is still quite possible to draw opportunities to you.
Here are a few things you can do now to set yourself up for success:
Connect With Recruiters
Back when I was a recruiter, there were some executives that would actually hang up on me when I called to pitch them a job – only to call me a year or two later asking about open jobs I was working on. Unbelievable! But I know YOU are not ever going to do this, right? Right! Because today it is all about being networked so everyone can help each other.
So first things first: find the recruiters in your industry. It makes no difference if they are close to you geographically, only that they work in your industry or specialty. Call them and let them know you are happy where you are, but that you would like to invite them to call to network with you, and to keep you in mind for any particular opportunities that might be a good fit. Remind them to keep this confidential and not to send your resume to any companies without your prior consent. Do this with 5 or 6 good recruiters and you will be in good shape!
Optimize Your LinkedIn Profile
Did you know that your Linked In profile, done correctly, can dramatically increase your weekly visitor rate? You want to pull the right eyes to your profile so that you are top of mind for networking and potential opportunities with the people you most need and want to be connected to. There is a trick to this, but it is not hard to set up if you know how. I just took a large group of executives step-by-step through how to set up their LI profile and recorded it here. This is a “must-know” for every career-minded professional.
Become a Thought Leader
How do superstars attract opportunities? By being good at what they do, yes, but many times you will find them stepping into the fullness of their potential through leadership positions outside of their companies. This includes speaking at associations and trade conferences, writing articles for associations on their area of expertise or getting involved in their local chamber of commerce for their particular business function (such as being an ambassador for their cities local manufacturing sector). This attracts people, makes networking easy, and challenges you mentally to always be the best you can be – step out and try new things using your career expertise as your springboard. Years ago I stepped up to become a thought leader in my industry, especially on the topic of tapping the hidden job market. You just have to be willing to share what you know with others. Many people struggle with the “but who am I to do that?” syndrome. In fact, most everyone does. Those feelings are a normal and a part of the progression. Acknowledge those feelings, but continue on!
Have An Outstanding Resume
Are you really serious about the edge you want in the market? A professionally written resume will wow both recruiters and companies, set you well apart from your competition, and work to secure you more interviews and offers. There is just no getting around the ROI you can experience by investing in yourself in this area. Make sure your writer is certified with a top association and an experienced writer in your industry. You can see samples of professionally written executive resumes here. Put a reminder in your calendar every 90 days to keep track of your career accomplishments, no matter how small – and try to quantify them with %% and $$ whenever possible. This small effort has a direct effect on your future salary.
Often, executives present me with the following question:
“Should I join LI Jobs or post in my profile that I am looking for another opportunity?”
Let’s talk about overexposure for a minute and dispel a few myths. I will begin back in my recruiting days… Companies used to pay me handsomely to bring those three “perfect” candidates that matched exactly what it was they were having such a hard time finding (often no easy task). Unfortunately, if he or she was currently in a job search or between companies, that candidate lost some cache – even if the candidate was a perfect fit. Because search fees are substantial, there was a lot of pressure on me to bring my client company candidates they perceived they could not find on their own; and I think that is the key – client companies didn’t want to pay me a fee to “find” someone who was already “available.” They frowned on that.
That is why recruiters are not looking for people who are looking for jobs.
Now this is just a hunch, but I believe my theory should be given serious merit by job seekers who are thinking of posting their availability on their LinkedIn profile.
I will add, yes, it is probably not likely, but it is possible that you might lose out on a position because you did not post that you were “available.” In the end you must make your choices based on your own unique circumstances. I think as a whole though, executives need to look at the problem of branding and overexposure. What, after all, are we trying to create with our “branding” message?
One of your goals should be to communicate a story line that demonstrates your unique value. This can be done by communicating your “specialty” strengths and attributes, your leadership skills and your quantifiable results, or what happens when you do what you do. Tie it all up in a short message that says, “this is the promise of the experience you are going to have by knowing/working with/hiring me.” In this message we want to create cache, allure and intrigue. In my 17 years’ experience as both a recruiter and resume writer/job search coach, I haven’t seen anyone accomplish this by screaming from the rooftops that they were in the job market. I know some might disagree with me, but please consider that my perspective is based on real world experience working closely with well over 1000 executives to date.
What do you want to convey in your job search? Leadership. Confidence. Control. A professional attitude. You are not desperate. You are not “eagerly seeking your next opportunity.” The more people think they may not be able to have you, the more they will want you – it’s just human nature. This special place is not reserved for the select few – everyone that cares about optimizing their career should strive to market themselves in a compelling way. This is marketing 101. And in a job search, one of the best investments you can make in your career is learning how to create a marketing plan for yourself and how to market yourself. No ad says “BUY ME! BUY MY PRODUCT!” No, the ads are geared to make us WANT the product. Of course, we’re not products; I’m just making a marketing observation.
So even if you find marketing distasteful (or worse, disingenuous), if you can’t communicate why someone should hire you, then how are you ever going to have a chance to help them? Your dream job at your dream salary isn’t distasteful is it? Exactly. Learn how to market yourself or pay someone to show you. Your ROI will be tremendous.
I just read a great article on Yahoo Finance about the hidden job market. Although Headhunter Dave Perry and I differ slightly in reccomendations on technique – I agree completely with his logic and LOVE his ideas!
David Perry, a longtime headhunter, says you’re wasting your time if you’re looking for job postings online. And he should know: he’s often the guy on the other side helping companies lure new talent. Perry, who’s based in Ottawa, says that in the last 22 years he has accomplished 996 searches totaling $172 million in salary. And the bottom line in today’s economy, he says, is you have to tap the “hidden job market.”
I reccomend reading the full article here:http://finance.yahoo.com/career-work/article/106829/How-to-Get-a-Job-When-No-One%27s-Hiring;_ylt=Agmsp1E6FiQWXdsO3zFKHKG7YWsA