The tail end of the year and onset of autumn can usher in a certain sense of restlessness. Kids go back to school and our own thoughts go back to New Years resolutions — including those we did not keep. We face the end of the year, feel a cool breeze, and understand once again, in a visceral way, the passage of time. What are we doing with our lives?
If our career goals are not materializing, then it’s time to push forward with a job change. But what about putting it off until January?
If the back-to-school season has you considering a job change, don’t wait until January to start your job search process.
Use the End of the Year Wisely
If imagining a job search brings up thoughts of applying into black holes, awkward interviews, and potential rejection, then there’s no doubt it will be pretty easy to put off. Yet the end of the year is a perfect time to start your search. By using these months wisely you gain the advantage over the horde of folks who will begin their search in mid-January. However, this is not a call for you to be the early bird — quite the contrary. Who wants worms, anyway? This is a call to align yourself instead with the second mouse. When you start your job search in the fall you have the time to take a different approach to your search. The cheese will follow.
Two Key Actions to take BEFORE applying to jobs
1. Get Clear
Job dissatisfaction stems from many different factors: management challenges, the promotion that did not materialize, tenuous roadmaps, the desire for more (more technical challenge, more opportunity, more visibility, and the all important more money).
But it’s not all bad, right? Get clear about what you love about your current role as well as what you love about your team and your line management. This will help you identify what is important to you in your next opportunity. Then you can prepare appropriate questions during the interview process to get the information you need to figure out whether or not it’s the right place for you.
What about your resume? Don’t simply blow the dust off it by adding a couple bullets. What are the proudest achievements of your career? When were they? How did they come about? Who was involved? What challenges did you overcome? What results did you bring about for your customers, your company, your team? These are things that belong on your resume.
Sure, doing this type of analysis is time consuming yet when you commence your job search at the end of the year, you have time to get clear on your value proposition. Doing this analysis will pay off with the insights you receive about what type of work truly engages you. Once you have completed your analysis, you will have great talking points for behavioral interviews AND you will have lots of meaty content to use for your resume.
Then get clear about what companies you want to work for. Make a target list of companies: dream companies, key companies, and backup companies. As you rank, consider how your unique accomplishments, background, and experience aligns with the objectives and strategies of these companies.
2. Get Connected
Who do you know within your target companies (former colleagues, recruiters)? Make some phone calls! Even if it’s been a while, pick up the phone — your initial call to a former colleague at a target company can essential be a question of how are you and how do you like working there? Don’t make it hard.
Use LinkedIn to uncover additional people in your network. Search for first degree connections who currently work or have worked in the past at the companies on your target list. You can also search for recruiters or people in talent acquisition at those companies. Consider emailing people who you find in search directly rather than through LinkedIn. You probably have the contact info of many of your first degree connections already and most recruiters have their contact information within their LinkedIn profiles.
What to say? Basically, this recipe will cover a variety of outreach:
- Simple and short intro: “Hello, how are you?”
- Communcation of interest: “I respect/admire Company A!”
- Depending on your relationship and their tenure/position, add a question:
– “What is it like to work there?”
– “How was the interview process?”
– “What’s the primary thing that’s kept you their all these years?”
- Call to action: “Let’s meet for coffee/drinks/lunch in the next week of two, OK?”
- Sign off
Go Get ‘Em!
With your analysis complete, talking points rehearsed, and face-to-face meetings planned, it is time to take a look at active opportunities within your target companies. Way ahead of January, companies have active opportunities. The Bureau of Labor Statistics reported in September the non-government hire rate remained steady, fluctuating between 3.9 and 4.0 percent of total employment or about 4.7 to 4.9 million hires per month. However, healthcare and technology related jobs are growing even more quickly and projected to keep growing.
So once you have your game plan, go apply. Then return to your network — the people you talked with (including recruiters) — and let them know the specific opportunity you applied for at their company.
By pushing through the tendency to procrastinate when it comes to changing jobs and instead giving yourself the gift of time, you improve your approach to the job search. When you harness your restlessness and channel it into a step-by-step method that puts your aspirations at the center, then you have a better chance at landing your dream job. And who wants to put that off? Go get your cheese.