I have worked with people finding, building and changing careers for many many years. I know there are thousands (if not millions) of resources and tips out there telling you what to do and what not to do. I’m not suggesting mine are any better than anyone else’s, but what I do know is that these ones actually work. These ones actually make all the difference. I know this, because I have seen it first hand. Of course, if you follow these five, you are not a shoe-in for your dream job (you also need to have a kick-ass resume, great interview skills, a stand-out online profile and polished professional etiquette) but I think you know that. These are the things that are less spoken about and, from my experience, less known. But once you know them, and once you do them, it really will make all of the difference.
- Search from the inside out. Often when people are searching for a job, the first place they look is the job boards. This may sound like a logical approach, however without knowing exactly what you’re looking for, you risk landing a job that you later realize is completely misaligned with your passions and strengths. The key is to first understand who you are, where you can add value and what exactly you are looking for. It is crucial to identify your passions, your gifts, your core values and your purpose before starting the job search. This way, you will have a far clearer understanding of the types or roles and companies that will bring you fulfillment and success.
- Try a non-traditional approach. When you apply for a job through the standard process, you are up again hundreds, if not thousands of other applicants. Often the company even ends up hiring internally and you never hear back which can be bother draining and defeating. I encourage people to reflect on which companies they most want to work for and to write a list of their top 10 to 20. Then, find the relevant contact at that organization and send a thoughtful letter including who you are, why you want to work for them and how you believe you could add value. This shows initiative, intention and will help you stand out against the crowd. Even if you don’t land a job, perhaps you’ll make a valuable contact. And after all, you’ve got nothing to lose.
- Network network network. It’s no secret that most people build their career through their network not through standard job sites. It’s never too soon to start networking. Remember that networking doesn’t need to happen at traditional networking events. Networking can happen in a coffee shop or on the bus – you never know where you are going to meet people that could become incredibly valuable contacts. Also remember that those people don’t need to be directly related to your field. They may know just the right person to put you in touch with. Treat every person as if they are just the person you need to know in that moment and watch you network grow and expand in powerful ways.
- Make time for self-care. The job application process can be incredibly draining and defeating. Make sure to take care of yourself mentally, emotionally and physically. This is not only important for your well-being, but it is also important for you to perform at your best in applications and interview. Identify what you need to do and schedule time in your calendar to make time for it. Perhaps it’s a 20 minute run each day or 30 minutes to watch an inspiration TED talk. There is no wrong or right as long as you make time to recharge.
- Shift your mindset – it’s a marathon not a sprint. Remember that you may not get the first job you apply for (or the second or the third or the eighth) and that is ok. You career is going to be long. Very long. Think carefully about your vision for your career and what you want it to look like in five years or ten years time. As long as you are meeting the right people and moving in the right direction, it doesn’t matter if one specific job fell through. Just keep your eye on the longer vision and take proactive steps to achieve it.