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10 Tips to Start a Successful Job Hunting

Make Job-Hunting More Successful and Less Stressful

If you are reading this, I assume you are now looking for a new job or you are about to start looking. You may have just started searching or you may have been in the job market for some time. You may have already read other resources to help you with your search. And it’s likely you are feeling anxious about it; that’s perfectly natural.

My goal is to give your steps you can take which I know will shift the needle and lead you to achieve better results in your career.

I hope that my tips prove useful to you as you go through your job search and career advancement. These tips may not cut the time of your job search, but they will certainly help you avoid wasting time, and avoid making common mistakes most job hunters make.

1 - Reconnect with Your Important Network

Start connecting with key people in your sector as soon as possible. Don’t wait until “you’re ready”; that time doesn’t exist! If you have been absent for a while, don’t feel bad. Go back into networking, organise one or 2 coffee catchups every other day, every week or every fortnight, depending on your situation.

Some Tasks to Help You:

  • Create a Networking List: Identify former colleagues, mentors, or industry contacts you’ve had positive interactions with. Prioritize them based on relevance to your current career goals.

  • Update Your LinkedIn Profile: Before reaching out, ensure your LinkedIn is current and reflects your professional goals. This way, your network can see your recent accomplishments and career aspirations.

  • Draft Personalized Messages: When initiating contact, personalize your messages. Reference past interactions or shared experiences to make your outreach more genuine.

  • Schedule Your Catch-Ups Strategically: Space out your meetings to allow time for follow-up and reflection. Ensure you’re not overloading your schedule, especially if you’re currently employed.

  • Prepare Discussion Topics: Have a list of topics or questions ready. This might include industry trends, their career path, or advice they can offer.

  • Follow-Up After Meetings: Send a thank-you message, and if appropriate, propose ways to stay in touch or offer help in return. Keeping the relationship reciprocal is key.

  • Track Your Progress: Maintain a record of whom you’ve contacted, the date of interaction, and any key takeaways or follow-up actions. This will help you keep your networking efforts organized and effective.

2 - Use Your Phone

From the moment you decide you are ready to start looking for another job, start using the phone (or face to face conversations) as your main channel of communication. If you are still at work, emails are usually what people use the most to convey decisions, report issues, ask questions and so on. Practice delivering verbal pitches, conveying important messages, explaining to others what you do for
a living, start talking to strangers as you wait for your morning coffee.

By switching to verbal communication, using phone calls and catchups, you will be using that narrative muscle more and more. This is the muscle you will need to use with recruiters and selection panels as you go through the candidate selection process. If it’s a bit rusted, you need to polish it!

Some Tasks to Help You:

  • Define the Purpose of Each Call: Determine whether the call is for networking, seeking advice, discussing job opportunities, or simply catching up. Tailoring your script to the call’s purpose will make your conversations more effective.

  •  Closing the Conversation: Plan a closing statement that thanks the person for their time, summarizes key takeaways, and suggests next steps if applicable.

  • Test and Refine: Practice your script with a friend or mentor and ask for feedback. This will help you refine your approach and make your conversations more natural and effective.
  •  Include Follow-Up Reminders: At the end of your script, remind yourself to send a follow-up email or LinkedIn message thanking the person for their time and reiterating any important points or agreed actions.

3 - Be Nice to Everyone

This should be a given and not just at this point in time, but you need to be courteous to everyone; always. When we are very busy at work or very worried with our job situation (or anything else) we tend to miss important cues from our environment, and not pay attention to the people around us. Never do that. Ever. For example, ask people if they need help, open doors, offer your seat, smile at babies and dogs, exchange a few nice words with your neighbour, uber driver and barista. When you open your doors and windows to the world, the world does the same to you. This is nothing spiritual, it’s about being open to opportunities and letting people know who you are. Plus, you will feel wonderful at the end of the day.

Some Tasks to Help You:

  • Active Listening Practice: Make a conscious effort to practice active listening in your interactions. This means fully focusing on the speaker, understanding their message, and responding thoughtfully.

  • Reflect on Interactions: Regularly reflect on your daily interactions. Consider how you could have been more open or helpful, and plan to implement those improvements going forward.

4 - Find a Confidant

A confidant is someone with whom you trust to share a secret or private matter, trusting them not to repeat it to others. It can be a relative, friend, or a paid executive or life coach. There are ideas, experiences, issues and questions you will want to share and resolve that are important to your professional development. Be careful not to share them with people who are looking to hire you. Be careful also not to present yourself as vulnerable and undecisive to important people in your network. You need to give yourself permission to be human, but it needs to be in a safe place that does not negatively impact your job search.

Some Tasks to Help You:

  • List Career Aspirations and Fears: Write down your career goals, including any fears or insecurities about reaching them. Discussing these can provide clarity and help in strategizing how to overcome challenges.

  • Prepare Questions About Job Search Strategies: Jot down specific questions about your job search approach. This might include asking for feedback on your resume, cover letter, or even your interview techniques.

  • Brainstorm Solutions to Challenges: If you’re facing specific obstacles in your job search, like a gap in your employment history or a career change, prepare to discuss these for advice and perspective.

  • Evaluate Job Offers or Opportunities: If you have job offers or potential opportunities, list them out. Discussing these with a confidant can help you weigh the pros and cons more objectively.
  • Seek Moral Support: Sometimes, the job search can be emotionally taxing. Prepare to discuss your feelings and seek moral support when needed.

5 - Know Your Weakest Point and Address It

When you are about to leave your current role, or if you have already left, ask one or two people who “have your back” to tell you what your professional “black spot” is. A “black spot” is a situation where you tend to underperform, a fragility in your leadership and management style that you cannot pinpoint by yourself. It may also be the negative thing people speak about you behind your back. Even if you are an excellent professional, you will have one. If an executive search professional is good, they will find it when they are researching you, and they will raise it at an interview. By that time, you should know what it is, you should be able to pivot and explain in your own terms, and be ready to address it.

Some Tasks to Help You:

  • Identify Perceived Weaknesses: Reflect on feedback you’ve received in the past and think about areas where you’ve faced challenges. This could be direct feedback from colleagues or observations you’ve made. Write down specific instances where these weaknesses were highlighted. For instance, “Colleagues have mentioned that I can be hesitant in making quick decisions.”

  • Seek Honest Feedback: If you’re unsure about your “black spot,” ask a few trusted colleagues or mentors for honest feedback. Frame it in a way that encourages constructive criticism.

  • Analyze and Understand: Once you’ve identified a potential weakness, spend some time analyzing why it’s perceived as such. Is it due to lack of experience, a particular incident, or maybe a skill gap? Understanding the root cause is essential for addressing it effectively.

  • Craft Your Response for Interviews: Prepare a response that acknowledges this weakness but also highlights the steps you’ve taken to address it. For example, “It’s been noted that I’m less experienced in [specific area]. However, I’ve actively been working to close this gap by [specific actions you’ve taken].”

6 - Meet with Your Referees

Meet with your potential referees as soon as you know you are ready to be “on the market” and ask them in person (or by phone if they live interstate) if they can be your referees. Give them your most current resume, and use the meeting (or call) to explain your plan, the potential roles you are thinking of applying for, and ask for their opinion and advice. By the time the meeting ends, you will have decided if they are good referees for you or not. You may feel that they may not be suitable anymore. For example, it could be that too much time has pass, and they are not in the loop about how you have progressed in your career since you worked with them. It’s safer to have three referees decided and on stand by before you start applying for jobs.

Some Tasks to Help You:

  • Identify Potential Referees: Make a list of people who have closely worked with you and can vouch for your skills, achievements, and work ethic. Consider past supervisors, colleagues, mentors, or clients who can provide a well-rounded view of your professional capabilities.

  • Evaluate Their Relevance: Assess how each potential referee can speak to your current career objectives. Think about how well they know your recent work and accomplishments. This is crucial, especially if your career path has evolved significantly since you last worked with them.

  • Seek Their Opinion and Advice: Ask for their input on your career plans and the roles you’re considering. Their perspective can be invaluable, and it also helps them feel more invested in your success.

  • Confirm Their Willingness and Availability: Before concluding the conversation, confirm if they are comfortable and available to be your referee. It’s essential to respect their decision if they choose not to be.

7 - Be "Wardrobe Ready"

Once you set things in motion and start telling your network that you are on the market, you should be ready for last-minute opportunities to come up. Make sure you have your perfect suit (or whatever attire you wear for job interviews) ready for action. Dry clean your suit or blazer, iron your shirt, make sure you have shoes, socks or stockings, belts, bag, coat, etc. clean, ready and easy to access. If need be, go shopping for an outfit, but this shouldn’t be a huge splurge: you need to balance the “good looks” with financial security.

Some Tasks to Help You:

  • Inventory Current Interview Attire: Go through your current wardrobe and identify items that are suitable for interviews. This includes suits, blazers, shirts, skirts, trousers, dresses, and shoes. Consider the fit, color, and appropriateness for the roles you’re targeting.

  • List Items for Dry Cleaning or Repairs: Note any items that need to be dry cleaned, ironed, or repaired. This might include a suit that needs pressing or shoes that require polishing.

8 - Adjust Your Budget

If you are going to leave your job, or if you left already, review your budget and focus on ensuring you can stretch the money you have as much as possible. Cut anything you can to reduce it to the minimum amount you (and your family, if that’s the case) can live with. For example, if you have Netflix, Amazon, Cable, etc. maybe you only need one? Or none? Go through your budget line by line until you feel you have reached your new monthly spending goal. Even if you received a severance package, it’s important to remember that it may take months, for some professions and sectors it can take over a year, to get another job. Be ready for a marathon, and not a sprint. And remember this is temporary, or it may the start of a change in lifestyle for you. It’s part of life and everyone goes through it, sooner or later.

Some Tasks to Help You:

  • Review Current Expenses: Go through your bank statements and credit card bills for the last few months to get a clear picture of where your money is going. Categorize your expenses to identify areas where you can cut back.

  • Essentials vs. Non-Essentials: Separate your expenses into ‘essentials’ (like rent/mortgage, utilities, groceries, insurance) and ‘non-essentials’ (like subscriptions, dining out, luxury items). Essentials are your priority.

  • Evaluate Subscriptions and Memberships: List all your subscriptions (streaming services, magazines, gym memberships) and decide which ones you can live without. Often, people pay for services they rarely use.

  • Reduce Utility Bills: Look for ways to cut down on utility costs, such as reducing electricity usage, opting for more affordable plans, or negotiating with providers.

  • Grocery Budgeting: Plan meals, buy in bulk, use coupons, and opt for more cost-effective food choices. Avoid impulse purchases and frequent trips to expensive stores.

  • Limit Dining Out and Takeaways: Set a strict budget for eating out or ordering in. Cooking at home is usually healthier and more economical.

  • Review Insurance Policies: Check if you can get better rates or if there are any optional covers you can remove for now. 

9 - Carve Out Time

Even if you are still at work, you need to find time routinely to dedicate to your job hunt if you want a new job. This time should be used initially to: research your sector, making sure you are abreast of the important news that affect your profession; looking at job ads so you know what’s available in the market and which recruiters and companies are hiring; updating your resume and having the meetings mentioned in the points above. You would then move to job applications, more specific meetings and opportunity-seeking activities. This takes time and practice. So you really need to review your weekly schedule and include this new activity in it.

Some Tasks to Help You:

  • Assess Current Commitments: Take a look at your current calendar and identify blocks of time that are typically less occupied or can be adjusted. This includes both your professional and personal schedules.

  • Use Technology Effectively: Leverage tools like digital calendars, reminders, and task management apps to stay organized and on track. Set reminders for important tasks and deadlines.

  • Set Realistic Goals: For each time block, set achievable goals. For example, “Apply to three job openings” or “Reach out to two contacts for networking”.

10 - Rest

It is harder to relax when there is so much going on, especially if job hunting is stressful for you. It is for most people! Find activities that help you to decompress, like exercise, meditation, reading, listening to music, and practice them daily. As a rule of thumb, keep 10 hours of your day free from “job-search” thoughts and worries. That includes 7 to 8 hours of sleep daily. In fact, you won’t perform well in an interview if you are exhausted and stressed. So resting is imperative!

Some Tasks to Help You:

  • Set Regular Sleep Hours: Allocate 7 to 8 hours for sleep each night. Go to bed and wake up at the same time every day to establish a healthy sleep pattern.

  • Schedule Daily Relaxation Activities: Block out time each day for activities that help you unwind, such as reading, listening to music, or practicing meditation. Even 30 minutes can make a big difference.

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