This past year, I’ve had countless discussions with midlife colleagues, clients, family and friends about the job search process today. The vast majority of them – in fact, a full 90% of those folks I’ve advised and consulted with who are looking for new jobs – are generally confused and very intimidated by what’s necessary in terms of the process required to land a great new job. And they actually resist – both physically and mentally – what needs to be done to secure a rewarding, lucrative position in today’s employment landscape.
Here’s a quick rundown on 6 critical job search steps you must engage in if you want to land great work as quickly and effectively as possible:
#1: Network extensively, and do it in the right “room”
Many midlife professionals have been at the same job for years, and haven’t done any networking at all. They have less than 100 connections on LinkedIn, and they haven’t spoken to people outside their own company about their work for years.
One challenge I hear over and over from my clients is that the professionals they know well are also looking for work and struggling, so these networking contacts aren’t in a position to help them find work.
What has to happen here is shifting your mindset and approach to expand your network far beyond the few people you know today. Your network needs to include higher-level mentors, sponsors, advocates and movers and shakers in the field who can open doors for you.
Here’s who to connect with:
All your past colleagues, bosses, educators, employees, partners and colleagues who you’ve ever enjoyed working with or learning from
People in all walks and fields who think highly of you and what you do, who’d happily give you recommendations and endorsements
Professionals who are moving and shaking in the field, and contributing in an inspiring way
Thought leaders, authors and experts who are important to follow to help you keep your finger on the pulse of new developments and trends in your field.
If you’re networking in the wrong room – meaning, you’re only talking to people who are out of work and feeling hopeless and helpless and don’t have anything exciting going on professionally – then you’re missing the point of networking and you’re holding yourself back from growth.
Tip: Use LinkedIn more extensively now to build your network to over 500+ connections. That’s an important metric because it demonstrates your level of engagement with professionals in your field and beyond. And reach out directly to professionals who fall into all of the above categories. Connect with at least 50 new people a week on LinkedIn, and identify 10 people who’ve been great supporters in the past who you can take for coffee or have an online conversation with, to share about what you’re hoping for in the future, and ask them if they know anyone who might be helpful to speak with. Don’t forget to also ask them how you can be of service to them as well.
#2: Build a powerful personal brand using LinkedIn
When people are looking for work, they have often lost sight of how talented and accomplished they are, and what they have to offer. Stop what you’re doing, and go to your LinkedIn profile now, and make it more powerful. Enhance your headline so it shares not your current job title (get rid of that) but talks about who you are in totality in the professional world. In one powerful one sentence, find a way to share in that headline what you do, who you do it for, and what you’re passionate about achieving and why.
Then look through every job you’ve listed there, and make sure you’re not just reflecting boring low-level “tasks” you’ve done. Include mention of the most exciting and juicy tasks/projects/roles you’ve accomplished, and how they powerfully contributed to the overall success of your company. Share (with metrics that demonstrate scope, if possible) what you’ve achieved and reflect it at the highest level of contribution (that fits the facts).
Make sure you’ve joined important groups in the industry, and are following organizations and people who are making their mark in your field.
Finally, post updates of articles and other information every day that reflect your passion for your field, and demonstrate your thought leadership by the information you choose to curate and share.
#3: Bring yourself to market
While these online activities are helpful, they’re not enough to get a great new job. You have to be physically present and engaged, regularly meeting new professionals in person, and demonstrating who you are and why a hiring manager should care to get to know you. Find association meetings, industry events, talks, and other in-person meetups that are focused on your industry, and attend. Scores of introverts have told me this is very hard for them, and while that’s completely understandable, you have to push yourself beyond your comfort zone, and do it anyway. The more you do it, the easier it becomes.
Also, reach out to the top 5 recruiters in your area that focus on your industry. Pick up the phone and call them, and explain who you are and what you’re looking for. Then take it from there.
#4: Identify the ideal role and a list of the ideal organizations
I advise every job-seeker to stop what they’re doing, and develop in writing their ideal job description . Write it out fully, with all the relevant parameters and aspects you see in other job descriptions posted by the companies you long to work for. Then think about why you’re perfect for this ideal role. Write out all the accomplishments, experiences and contributions you’ve made that make you a perfect candidate for this ideal role. Start talking to others about what you see as your ideal role and why it thrills you.
#5: Talk about yourself in a way that will attract to you what you want
You’ll need to learn to talk more powerfully and compellingly about what you’ve done. This is most difficult for midlife professionals who’ve lost touch with how they’re valuable, important and needed. To help with this, reach out to 10 people who’ve admired you and your work in the past, and ask them if they would be open to writing a brief recommendation that shares how they’ve experienced working with you. Upload those recommendations to your LinkedIn profile, and make sure you incorporate their glowing language in how you talk about who you are and what you’ve done. And develop and submit 10 LinkedIn recommendations today for people you’ve loved working with. This random act of kindness will be very fruitful to both the recipient and to you.
#6: Learn a new skill while you’re looking for work
Looking for work can feel like the doldrums have hit, and give you the sense that you have zero control over your life and future , which is depressing and demoralizing.
On the contrary, nothing fires up a person up more than when they’re learning something new that excites and expands them.
Take control, and commit to your own growth. Take a course or class that will give you a new skill that you’ve been hankering to learn. Just this one act will do wonders for your self-esteem and help energize you, and give you more to talk about. It will also push you out of your isolation, back into the world of people who are truly excited to leverage their talents and knowledge to make a positive difference in the business world.
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