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As a job seeker, you bring value to an organization. For many, the time spent in job transition stretches from days to weeks to months, and in some cases, to years. As a part of your job search, use this time to increase the value you bring to an organization. Make yourself more attractive to potential employers.

For your preferred avocation, what are the key skills that are important and lacking in the work force? Spend time acquiring the knowledge, practicing the skill and sharpening your desire around mastering a few of those skills. Take a class, do some self-study, find a mentor to learn from. Add the language of these skills to your resume and cover letter with keywords and proper use of the skill vocabulary. Update your Linked In and other social media profiles to demonstrate your new found skills.

If you aren’t learning something new to the point where you can apply it to solve an employers problem, you are falling behind to every other competitor who is.  Demonstrating mastery over a new set of skills shows you are a self-starter. Demonstrating your initiative is demonstrating your interest in being a current, up-to-date problem solver and is a differentiating factor, one you can call out during phone screens and face-to-face interviews.

Learning something new or achieving a new level of proficiency in an existing skill set is in itself a reward. It keeps you mentally sharp and in the professional space you want to be in. Keep the professional part of your brain sharp, it will likely shorten your time in transition. It will definitely make you more valuable, and that is time well spent.

The common wisdom is that it takes a community to raise a child. I believe it also takes a community to find a job. If friends and family had jobs that fit us, we would already be working. It is more than likely that your next job will come from someone you don’t know yet. To find that person, it requires effort, often substantial effort, in networking.

Successful networking is a two-way street. You ask, you get. You offer, you give. There is a natural balance of getting and giving with your networking partners. By giving more, you create an imbalance, and in most cases, people will try to restore the balance by helping you with your ask.  Being specific in what you are asking for, and doing as much of the up-front work as possible to make it easy for your partners to help you generates a flow of action back towards you.  The more you give, the more you will get.  This isn’t to say there aren’t edge cases, people who only take and don’t give at all. Groom those people out of your network and concentrate on building effective networking relationships with those that reciprocate.

So how do you give, and give effectively to someone else in a job search? There are plenty of ways, here are a few suggestions. Help them identify target companies and other targets of opportunity. Determine if you have any first or second level Linked In contacts at those targets. Make a strong introduction to your contacts, describing how you met the job seeker, what your common professional interests are, and how they fit into a specific role. Ask the contact to network with the job seeker to help them understand the company, the culture, provide additional networking contacts within the target company and find the hiring manager for the role.  Tell the job seeker how you met the contact, what your common professional interests are, and how they have helped you in the past. Encourage the job seeker to reach out and schedule some time to talk. Meet with your job seeker for coffee and/or lunch for some face-to-face networking. Ask where they are succeeding and where they are struggling. Collaborate and brainstorm together. Offer additional networking contacts to help expand their network with other strong networkers. Review resumes, cover letters, profiles and give constructive feedback. Share networking meeting/event schedules and attend meetings of interest together. Practice interviewing. Share your job search stories and unique approaches. Share how you use social media to further your job search.

Build a community, an army to keep you and your search top-of-mind.  If you are the only one on the lookout for the next opportunity, you are at a disadvantage to those who have built up their networking community, made crisp and clear asks, and have put effort into their networks to help their networking partners solve problems and achieve goals.

Give more than you get, create a flow of action back towards you. People pay back what you pay forward.

For many, the goal of the job search is to land in the right job as quickly as possible. The persistent pursuit of high-value opportunities joined with purposeful networking yields the best results in my view.

But what does that mean?

A couple of definitions are in order for the purpose of this post.

Persistent pursuit: Having identified a small set of target companies and/or job opportunities, persistent pursuit in this context means spending significant time each day working on the opportunity. Researching the company, the company’s competition, networking into the company and continuing to expand your contacts within the target organization, tailoring your resume and cover letter to specific job postings with appropriate keywords, interview preparation (questions to answer and questions to ask) and salary range research are some of the activities of persistent pursuit. Understand why the position is open: Is it new or has it been recently vacated? Why did the incumbent leave? Is there a change of leadership/management that is still rippling through the organization?

High-value opportunity: A high-value opportunity is an opportunity that you are a great fit for. Do you meet 90+% of the job requirements? Does your resume reflect recent, paid professional experience in the key aspects of the job description? Is this a role that you have a strong interest in? Do you know enough about the company to know that it would be a good fit for you and the company is stable enough to meet your needs for the next several years? In my view, you don’t want to chase just any job, you want to chase the opportunity that is a good solid fit for your demonstrated skills and interests.

Purposeful networking: Identify and connect with people inside the target company. Do as many informational interviews as you can. Locate the hiring manager and other decision makers. Research the people, understand the problems and the issues that the role you are looking for would likely solve. Arrange coffee’s, lunches, happy hours with people inside the target companies and with vendors that do business with the target companies.  Learn what professional groups they belong to and visit the professional group meetings. You want to be top of mind when a role opens up. You want champions inside the organization to help you get the resume in front of the hiring manager and help you navigate the talent acquisition processes.

Persistence. Have the drive and stamina to make progress in some area or areas of your short list every day.

High-Value: Determining high-value brings a sharp focus to your search. The sharper the focus, the faster the progress. You will quickly eliminate organizations that aren’t a good fit and keep you from wasting your time on activities that won’t be productive for you. You will be well positioned to take advantage of opportunities when they arise. They will be the right opportunities.

Purposeful Networking: Networking in general can be fun and entertaining, but when it comes to job search, fun and entertainment aren’t the end-game. The end-game is landing an opportunity, and that means a lot of work that may not be fun nor entertaining. It’s not just about meeting people, it’s about meeting the right people; the people that can help you get that job.

Wrapping the three elements together, a Persistent pursuit of high-value opportunities with purposeful networking yields the best results.  This is a lesson I learned in my job search, and I hope you find it helpful in yours.


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