It’s September and for most people, the feeling of a new beginning. But if you are one those people who hate their jobs, are sick of a long commute or struggling in a job search this time of year can suck.
You want a change and you want it now.
It doesn’t always work like that. But there is some work you can do today that is like pressing fast forward on achieving that change. Which is why I’ve compiled ALL of my top tips, tricks and resources to try and make that happen for you.
Step 1: Know what you want.
You know you want a change. But do you know what that change actually looks like? If you are struggling to define a specific career, job or industry it can have you flailing around and going nowhere.
Instead, if you are laser focused and know exactly what it is you are looking for that allows you to customize everything to achieve that one thing.
Need help? My favourite exercise is the Interests, Motivations and Skills and it focuses on what career fits in with your life, your skill set AND what will bring you joy. I wrote a whole article about it and how this exercise helped me figure out that this was MY dream career.
Cheap Resource: Find Career Happiness Course, only $4.95
Step 2: Write a Stand Out Resume
This is your primary marketing document. You are now a product and your resume is your pamphlet selling you to companies. So make sure that it is telling a cohesive story, one that is relevant to the job and company you are applying for.
And since Applicant Tracking Systems (ATS) are taking over the world, make sure it is optimized, such as having the right key words in the right format.
I've written a ton on resumes, like the Modern Day rules, how to optimize and writing a winning one.
Free Resource: The Ultimate Resume Checklist
Step 3: Don’t Just Hit Apply
You see an amazing job. You spend hours customizing and optimizing your resume. You hit apply and then you wait. Sound familiar?
I liken applying on job boards to a black hole, you send resumes out only to hear nothing in return.
If you want a job fast, you need to make sure that your resume isn’t getting lost with the rest of them (an average of 250!). So do something about it. Find the key decision maker or who may be the key decision maker and follow up that application with an email to them stating your interest and your differentiating factor.
Step 4: Outsource Your Job Search
Make sure you have has many people out there helping you out in your job search. That includes engaging your current network. A coffee with an old manager, or maybe a lunch with a colleague who works at company you want to work at. These are your strongest advocates, making sure they know what you want and are looking for will help them determine appropriate opportunities for you to consider.
That also includes optimizing your LinkedIn to be found. Found by recruiters. Having an “all-star” LinkedIn profile that is full of great information and keywords, getting as close to the magic number of connections and logging in each and every day will increase your likelihood of showing up in a recruiter’s search.
Cheap Resource: Purposeful Networking Course - $14.95
Step 5: Get Help
Outplacement services (those provided by employers to employees they are laying off) are very similar to Career Coaching services. I should know because I do both!
The great thing about outplacement is that they provide services to a large number of clients which yields great data.
And that data is very promising.
A person engaged in the process with a Career Coach lands a job 50-63% faster than the national average. Crazy right?
So maybe the biggest factor in speeding up your search could be as simple as hiring a coach.
Investment Resource: Career Coaching Packages or Job Search Rescue Plan
Free Resource: Strategy Call with Me
Step 6: Create a Plan
A lot of job searches are chaotic. They begin and end with job boards.
The problem with that is the math. Each job gets on average 250 applications and only 4-6 are selected for an interview. Of that 4-6, not all come from the 250, so only about 10% of applications get an interview (some stats say as little as 2%, eek!).
That means the majority of the time you send out a resume for a posted job, you will never hear anything.
So you need to do more than just applying for jobs but with our natural inclination to centre our search around them you need to create a plan so that you can make sure you do more.
Create a plan that encompasses all the key aspects of a job search, including networking, volunteering, research and preparation and social media.
Free Resource: Dream Career Planner
If you follow these 6 steps, I’m positive you’ll see incredible results. By Christmas, you can be in that dream job. Wouldn’t that be amazing?
The weather is perfect. Sun’s out, there's a light breeze with not a single cloud in sight. A perfect day to spend outside, maybe at the beach or on a patio. Definitely not indoors in our cubicles. But alas, that is exactly where we find ourselves. And it sucks.
It is really hard to motivate ourselves when the only thing we want to do is shut up shop and head outdoors to enjoy the summer weather. Especially when winter seems to last FOREVER, am I right? We don’t come in excited, the daily drudgery of our work has us feeling low and our creative juices have dried up.
But, if we ARE going to be stuck inside, we may as well do something with this time instead of wasting the hours away until quitting. Let’s ignite that spark and make a difference using one (or more) of these ways to make that happen.
1. Create a BIG Goal
Now is not the time to be too realistic, now is the time to go big since going home isn’t an option.
What would you LOVE to do in your job – what would make you excited, leave you feeling super proud and make a difference all at the same time?
Let’s break that goal down to some smaller steps so that you can actually make it happen. A great place to start is to create a rough plan of the who, what, how and why of the goal.
Who you need to talk to and engage.
What needs to get done.
How you are going to do it.
Why this needs to be done.
2. Learn Something New
Some workplaces get slow in the summer, making the days seem even longer. If there is no big goal on your mind, maybe use that time to learn a skill that will benefit you. You don’t have to enroll in any big course or anything. Check out conferences or webinars. If there is no money for it, check out some free options such as Lynda (free through your library) or EdX. You could also ask about the potential of job shadowing others within your company.
3. Do Something Fun
Schedule a fun event during work hours – like a fun lunch out, drinks after work (on that patio!) or a picnic in the park. Enjoy the weather when you can by getting out during lunch or walking outside to grab a cup of coffee.
4. Ask for Constructive Criticism
It isn’t always fun hearing constructive criticism but one thing is for certain – it usually motivates us to improve and do better! Schedule a meeting with your manager and ask for their feedback and direction. Tell them your frustrations, your goals and ask for their advice on how you can do and be better. Then make plans to tackle the problem head on.
5. Schedule What You Loathe
Every job has aspects to it that we absolutely hate. And during the summer that hatred seems to grow like crazy. Get it over with. Schedule it in, ideally first thing in the morning. Get it done so that you can stop dreading it and enjoy the rest of your day.
6. Celebrate Yourself
Reward yourself for sticking it out, for accomplishing things and for showing up. It can be as simple as bragging to a friend or coworker, enjoying an ice cream cone during lunch or updating your summer work wardrobe with some of the latest fashion trends.
7. Find a Mentor or Mentee
A sure way to boost your morale AND your career is by finding someone who can help you or finding someone that you can help. Set up regular meetings with someone to discuss your career, getting or giving actionable advice, and figuring out the right next step.
8. Leave on Time
We all have to work late sometimes, that’s life. But we can try and make it a priority during the summer to leave right at 5pm so that we can enjoy those last few hours of sunlight. And fill up your evenings and weekends with your favourite summer activities, that way you don’t feel like you are missing out on all the fun while at work. If work is quite busy, consider going in early!
9. Take some time to Reflect
Is summer to blame for your lack of motivation? Be honest with yourself. If not, then maybe it is time for something new – a new career, a new job, a new industry.
Consider working with a Career Coach to gain some clarity on your future. Schedule a call to see if come September, you should be starting to get serious about your next move.
I get angry at my profession sometimes. There is so much emphasis placed on being outgoing, upbeat individuals that spend a lot of time shaking hands and kissing babies. But that is a strategy made for extroverts.
That means, the message I hear, as an introvert, is that “networking isn’t for me.” It doesn’t help that I hate networking. The idea of talking to people I don’t know. The courage to approach them. Knowing how to strike up a conversation. And then figuring out how to leave the conversation. All while trying my hardest not to be awkward AND not get lost in my own head.
As an introvert, it can all seem like too much. But I have found a way to make it work and while it isn’t something that will always come easily to me or something that I will always want to do, I do know that by pushing myself outside of this particular comfort zone is key to my career success and happiness.
But I don’t network like an extrovert, I create a networking strategy that is more suited for introverts, one that makes sense for us.
That is why I created this guide, it is full of tips, trick and thoughts on networking. It will help you create a strategy that suits you while also encouraging you to step a little outside of your comfort zone, not just for your career but also for your own personal growth.
SPOILER ALERT: Read to the end, I have a FREE worksheet and an announcement to make networking just a bit easier for you!
Networking Is More than the Event
The first thing to know is that networking is not just networking events. Whenever I ask clients about their networking, all I ever here is about networking events. In fact, what I described above is pretty much my fear and hate of networking, especially at an event!
The networking event is just one of many forms of networking that you can choose. And while I’ll always recommend attending at least one, I recommend it more for pushing yourself rather than for meeting new people (in the case of introverts).
Networking is a mixed bag of tricks and it is entirely possible to create a strategy that doesn’t include events. In fact, I view events almost equally to emails. Those quick conversations you have are just the launching point of a networking relationship, just like an email is!
Network like an Introvert
Introverts prefer one-on-one conversations and have a close friend group. So network like that. Instead of filling your calendar with events (who am I kidding here, instead of steering clear of events!), fill it with one-on-one meetings. Introverts are great at building relationships when we meet people in a quiet setting that allows us to focus on a particular person. So use that as the foundation of your strategy.
Talk to People You Know
The cornerstone of any networking strategy is connecting with people you know, no matter if you are an extrovert or an introvert. I recommend always starting with previous managers and people you would list as a reference. These are your number one advocates as they have hired you, can speak to your performance and, more than likely, want to see you succeed.
For introverts, they are also great practice grounds! Use the people you know as a way to get used to talking about yourself and what you want while also asking questions. Don’t forget to ask them about other people you should speak to, maybe they can introduce you or at least you can use their name as a way to feel less icky about emailing someone you don’t know.
My mind is running a million miles a minute, and if I’m nervous it is easy to get carried away by my thoughts. Which means that I’m probably not going to actually do any networking or if I do finally talk to someone, I’m not making the most of the conversation.
To combat that I do a lot of work ahead of the game. I always have a ready list of questions that I can ask someone:
And on and on. I usually have a good 10-20 questions at the ready and this allows me to not worry about what to talk about. For a more formal informational interview (which can be life-changing!), I have very specific questions prepared.
Plus, I really don’t like talking about myself, so I also have questions that I can use in response to a question until I’m ready.
And when I am ready, I generally keep it short and sweet – less time to get all weird or rambling!
Being prepared allows me to really focus on the person and the relationship building, it has been key.
Attract People to You
One of the great things about social media, is the ability to create, what I call, a passive networking strategy. Attracting people to you. There are a few ways to go about this, but some would be: optimizing your LinkedIn to attract recruiters, start engaging with people who work at companies you want to work at, and generating content that will be relevant and exciting to people within your industry.
Go Softly Forward
When you think of emailing someone you don’t know, do your palms start to sweat? Is it because you are afraid that they will be annoyed? As long as you are emailing a soft ask, they won’t be – trust me! What do I mean about a soft ask? Well one that isn’t, “do you have any job openings?” or in that vain. A soft ask is one for information, wanting to learn a little bit more about what they do. You are only asking for a few minutes of their time to find out information about their job.
When you ask it this way, they are more likely to feel complimented, like “who me? You want to know what I do?” You are making their day, not ruining it!
Don’t Go it Alone
Find a networking buddy or coach, to cheer and encourage you during this scary time. Be accountable to them, create some goals and check in to make sure you are accomplishing them or to provide support if you are having trouble.
See an event you want to go to, but are nervous? Ask them to come along with you and encourage each other to meet your event goals.
If you are in Halton and need someone to go with you, try asking for a buddy on our Halton Career Networking Group over on Facebook. Any HR professionals in Halton wanting to attend one of the monthly events – let me know and I’ll go with you!
I know that these strategies work, as they have worked well for me. Networking began with one-on-one meetings set up by people I knew with people they knew (ok, my first informational interview was set up by my dad!). I didn't go alone to my first networking event, I went with friends.
I didn't settle. I didn't settle when what was being told to me didn't sound right. I didn't settle with the message that networking isn't for introverts. I did something about it.
Now I want to help you with it. That is why I'm excited to share these two things:
1. FREE Elevator Pitch Worksheet
2. Purposeful Networking Course (special discount offer of $14.95 on until July 8th)
Sara Curto, Career Management Specialist. Working with you towards Career and Job Search Success.
Dream Career Planner
Click HERE to download