By Tiffany A. Dedeaux
Creating a new career or acquiring a new job is a marathon, not a sprint. You have spent months if not years developing the tools to change the path toward your future, and now it is important to realize that it will take about the same amount of time to achieve the next milestone: your first job in your new career.
Why does the hard work continue? Because you are not purchasing a new way of life, you are creating it. Here is how and why your hard work will pay off:
Story and relationship are important because what we need in difficult times are tangible results. In order to get that, you should know that there are seven stages one must go through to get from the sudden discovery of treasure [i.e. job opportunity] to the point of visible bond [i.e. job offer]. Rather than holding your breath and powering through three or four interactions with a hiring manager, take a moment to connect, realizing it may take seven interactions before you get to the point where either of you are sure you want to commit.
Not ironically, the new way of selling is in the art of relationship building, where you go to someone not as the sales guy or gal looking to make a deal (transaction), but as the consultant looking to add value (relationship) to their lives. When you don’t like talking about yourself this can be particularly difficult, so I recommend talking about your brand of solution. For Career Changers, this means you are not talking about what you used to do, so much as you are talking about how you approach (and overcome) challenges with tried and true examples from previous work situations. What will mean the most to the person who is hiring is your ability to learn, adapt, and your approach to solving problems. This, and the work you put in to get to know them, is what will get you noticed.
Here are some of my thoughts on what will make you more effective for the long haul of the job hunt:
Rethink the Recruiter
Think of recruiters as your sales force. You have to train them in your messaging, and send them into situations motivated to bring you back opportunities. The key here, in your career development, is the initiative you must take before during and after a role, because this is the expectation you must have for the rest of your work life: You are the Chief Employment Officer of your career.
Progress in the Process
Progress, in this case, is the next step in the job acquisition process. It is exciting when everyone is calling, emailing, and wanting a piece of you, but that gets tiring if there is no progress leading you to a job offer.
Since activity and progress are not the same thing, here is what I recommend to help you survive and thrive the job hunt marathon:
- Keep a calendar and tick off not just the things you do, but the days you actually do it. It’s not about your activity if you only do it for three or four days, because job hunts last three or four months – that’s why it’s a marathon. This is important to remember because quite a few people come to me in frustration after a couple of months only to get an offer days later. A job hunt takes work but it also takes time.
- Re-read your impact statements like you would affirmations. With the trend in resumes turning from lists of job responsibilities to key achievements, when the long haul feels particularly difficult, read through these impacts statements as a way to remind yourself that you did these amazing things where you created change, solved problems, and built things that mattered to the people around you.
- Schedule yourself. As a believer in working smarter, I recommend 30 hours a week for an active job hunt rather than a full 40. This means that there are still other hours left in the day for families and mental rest. By both setting time boundaries for your job hunt tasks and not spending every hour worried about getting a job, you can pace yourself and start again tomorrow refreshed and renewed.
In addition, keep track of your progress through the application process so that
you can adjust your approach when things aren’t working how you’d like. For example, there are different things to address if you never get an interview invitation then if you never get an offer after an onsite interview.
By keeping track, you will know whether you need to create a more effective resume for the current market or if you need to rethink your approach to interview questions.
Whether you are just starting your job hunt or working on coping with the process, I welcome the chance to journey with you.