How do you find and land a great job?
A great job is one that suits you, rewards you, lets you offer your best to the world…and pays the bills!
There are many paths to landing a great job. The one I’ve outlined works well and is more likely to get you a great job.
Slow down, avoid blasting out resumes.
Pause for moment. Take a deep breath–or three. If you are anxious to get started, worried about begin out of work or about making a transition to a new job, you’re going to want to jump in and get going. I’m all for that. Where you need caution is in the type of activity you choose to do.
Just like your Thanksgiving meal is 90% preparation and 10% eating, just as a good contractor wouldn’t start slapping together some 2x4s when someone asks for an addition to their house, your job search will be most successful when you spend the proper time up front and prepare.
Avoid the well-trod path
In general, this means not “sending out resumes.” Though it seems like the most basic thing you can do to get into action and get a job, it’s actually not that productive. Reason: it puts you in the position of a commodity and has you playing the wrong side of a numbers game.
Think about how many people are searching for jobs. Think about how HR pros are inundated with applications for each job posting. Your application becomes one of dozens, hundreds, or thousands (!) they receive.
It’s not that this “sending out resumes” approach won’t work. It does work. But if you want a job that suits you, rewards you completely, and meets your current needs–and if you want a process that doesn’t drain you–there are more powerful ways.
A path to partnering with your ideal employer
The best path is one that brings together you and your ideal employer. One criteria for your ideal employer is that they see you are uniquely qualified to help them solve the problems they have. And they hire you because they know you will. Another criteria is that they are offering you a great job: one that suits your needs (including paying the bills), rewards you, and lets you offer your best to the world.
Here’s how to find and land a great job with that ideal employer. Please avoid the temptation to start the process at a watered-down version of step 5. Don’t hop onto a job posting sites and send out resumes. And please don’t, when you get an interview, let it become a simple and deadening Q&A session. In this default version of an interview, the employer takes the role of evaluator while the potential employee hopes they are somehow acceptable or are a fit. Yelch! Please, instead, follow these steps.
- Specify the type of job you will find and land. This is critical. And it involves more than selecting a job title like “manager of customer service.” Your description of the type of job you will find and land must include your talents, your passions, your needs (e.g. income, hours, commute, responsibilities, etc.), and the needs you will fill for your employer. This sense of the needs you will fill for your employer is also critical because it will inform all your communications with them from resume to interview to onboarding. I call this method “coming from your sweetspot.” After you have your sweetspot, describe the type of job you will get by the accountabilities you’ll own, not just title. And specify “by when” you will get the job. This is your job goal.
- Identify industries, types of companies, and specific companies that match–or will most most likely match–your sweetspot. Here’s a good place to use job posting sites. Not to find a job but to find companies.
- Ask friends, family, and acquaintances for introductions to people in those industries and companies so you can learn more and find opportunities. This is dramatically easier that you may fear. You are not asking them to find you a job. You are asking them to help you learn more and to get what’s commonly called “information interviews.” Share your sweetspot and goal with them and ask what other industries or companies they’d recommend you investigate. This step can be a first, real stumbling block in this process and can make the “sending out resumes” strategy seem awfully attractive. If you are getting stopped here, acknowledge it and get some support. I am confident you can do this even if everything you know says you can’t.
- Conduct information interviews to learn more about the challenges and opportunities they face. Share a summary of your sweetspot and job goal. Get guidance on how your unique value-add (your sweetspot) might help. Get further guidance and introductions to others who may be able to help you or who you may help. Many information interviews yield more information interviews. Some yield actual job opportunities. Both are valuable.
- Conduct formal processes whenever there’s an opportunity. This involves following their HR-set processes while conducting meaningful conversations about their issues and how you might help them. In the resume, cover letter, emails, and interviews, seek first to understand their needs then show how you can and are qualified to help.
- Jointly decide if you and this company are a fit.
- Negotiate. Agree on hours, work locale, evaluation criteria, and on-boarding processes.
- Jump in with both feet because this job will be so in line with you and your needs.
Step around your stumbling blocks
As you look at this approach. you might anticipate stumbling blocks–reasons why this process won’t work–in any step and at any time. Seeing stumbling blocks don’t mean the process won’t work for you. You just need a way around them and the way around them is simple.
- Acknowledge it. Say out loud whatever fear, uncertainty, or doubt pops up so you can hear yourself saying it. Or you can write it down. The idea is to get it out of your head. For example, you might look at step 4 and say, “I don’t think I can call and ask people for their time.” Acknowledging it begins to melt it.
- Evaluate it. Decide whether this stumbling block is getting you closer to your goal or not. If it is, then work with it. For example, you might say, “I don’t know enough people to make step 3 work.” Working with it, you can build a strategy to get introduced to more people. If, in working with it, you uncover more stumbling blocks, great!, and put those through this process, too.
- Replace it. If your stumbling block is not getting you closer to your goal, set it aside. Thank it for coming and replace it with a statement that does get you closer to your goal. For example, if you stumble on “I don;t know enough people”, you can set that aside and replace it with “I can connect with the people I do know and ask their help to meet more people.”
- Coach it. Select someone to be a thinking partner who can coach you though this process. Describe to this person the stumbling block and ask for their help to Acknowledge, Evaluate, and Replace it.
Get the support you need to stay on track, work the details, keep your head clear, and productively engage those people in your network and potential employers.
Part of your success will come from being clear about your sweetspot and job goal. Part will come from keeping your head clear and focused on progress. And part will come from the deep partnerships you’ll enter with employers, friends, family, and other well-wishers. In addition, should you choose, to a coach like me, your supporters include all these people. Use us throughout the process. Trust that our reward lies in your success.