1. Start with the known -- If you've been laid off, excessed in a merger, or just want out of your current field it often helps to pursue companies, industries, and functions that have some connection to your field. These are often the most productive targets. Examples might be healthcare to biomediclal; teaching to educational sales; consumer products brand management to B2B marketing; banking to corporate finance; engineering to green technologies; software development to new media.
2. Seek growing fields -- New, growing, and emerging fields like green technologies, clean energy, social media, and others, will have fewer job applicants trained in those precise areas. They are looking for the best, but know that the best will often have to come from somewhere else. If your value and experience speaks to their needs, your transition is assured. But it's your job to build the bridge to them and make your case. Barbara Safani's Career Solvers research department can help you with comprehensive job search research services. Mark Hovind's Job Bait site has terrific stats on employment and market trends by industry and region.
3. Leverage volatility -- When mass layoffs occur, smaller companies that could not compete for top-talent rush into to fill the gap and gobble up superior performers. If you are laid off, don't limit your search to your industry or function, an unrealistic salary, or a geographic location. This is the time that companies are thinking creatively and are more open to speaking with "non-traditional" hires with a great track record. And they will be directing their recruiters to do so too.
4. Concentrate on unique transferable value -- A transition (indeed any hire) depends on value not skills. Determine the value you bring -- value that transcends the boundaries of industry or function and underlies all your successes. Examples might be an ability to 1) consistently deliver growth no matter what the circumstances, 2) always find the one thing within an already good process that make s it deliver even more productivity or revenue, or 3) motivate a team to gel and excel in difficult circumstances.
5. Begin before you need to -- Lay a foundation -- do not wait until you lose your job or are so burnt out that you quit. Do your research; use social networking tools like LinkedIn, Facebook, Twitter, Visual CV, or a customized electronic portfolio and/or blog (done in partnership with an on-line identity expert like Kirsten Dixson) to build visibility around your value proposition and emerging thought leadership in your targeted field. Write a blog and articles, attend industry events, make connections with movers and shakers, do field research by speaking with those doing the work you want to do, learn the industry trends and buzzwords that will make you seem like a "local" not a "tourist." When you decide to make your move, you'll be known, have a targeted Google presence, a robust network, and "walk the talk."
6. Jump-start your search -- If you lose your job, you need to act FAST.
Don't be tempted to use the first few weeks (or months) of your
unemployment as unexpected vacation time. Get busy and build your
branded value proposition, PR engine, and research machine ASAP. It's
vital to your search and the positive activity will help with the array
of emotions related to job loss. A career coach and/or resume professional
can often be your best investment during this time -- there is huge ROI
in having a careers professional help you determine value, articulate a
strong branded value proposition, develop stellar career documents, and
guide you in the most effective job search techniques. If budget will
not allow retaining a professional, read Susan Whitcomb's "Magic"
series of books on resumes, interviewing, and job search (Resume Magic, Interview Magic, Job Search Magic).
7. Create employer desire -- Don't assume a decision maker will immediately understand how your value will translate to the company. Do the work to discover the company's (and industry's) trends and needs. Using that information, project impact with value-driven accomplishment stories and value-driven solutions that predict success and translate directly to the bottom-line.
8. Don't spend all your time on-line -- It's easy to be sucked into a black hole of job boards and research. It's easy to hope that the more places you post your resume the more activity you will attract. Use technology and social networking sites as people connectors, not as substitutes for real relationship-building. Relationships drive productive job search, especially in transitions. People are your best sources of information, best advocates for your success, best connection to positive energy, and best way for you to "give back," too. A robust career management tool like JibberJobber can help you manage your growing list of contacts and activities.
9. Don't rely on your resume -- Transitions are a
"pavement pounding" exercise. Your resume will be populated with
information tied to your old field. It will not attract attention on
the job boards and employer or recruiter databases because the key
words they seek will not be there. Build your resume to be a concise
impact- and value-driven sales tool that builds a future forward case
for success by connecting the dots of your old accomplishments to new
advantage for your target company. Then work your network -- and even
phone/mail cold calling (using that strong value proposition and
company knowledge) -- to get that resume in the hands of a real person
and to get face-time with decision makers. Read Jeffrey Fox' How to Land Your Dream Job: No Resume! And Other Secrets to Get You in the Door, for more on these techniques.
10. Develop a suite of value-driven career collaterals -- Today's job search and career management experts know that new opportunities come not from on-line job sites, but from the building of an on-line presence, a meetup at a professional event, a call from a recruiter who discovered you, a contact, or even an article that spawned some good PR. Each of these situations requires different personal marketing materials. At a minimum, today's jobseeker or career-savvy executive needs a targeted resume, accomplishments brief, executive biography and micro bios for articles and speaking gigs, 30 second elevator pitches for different targets, executive value statement and branded tagline, a brief list of top "selling points," and a list of company research sites and contacts. JibberJobber can help you keep all of these documents sorted and in one place.
11. Do the job to get the job -- When you land your interview, don't be a passive interviewee. After your initial conversation drop the theory, drop the past accomplishments, and get real to get the job. Drive the interview to a place where you can show your stuff. Ask questions about problems, needs, and issues. Then initiate a brainstorming session that allows you to show how you can think on your feet, deliver solutions, and create opportunity. You don't have to give away your "trade secrets" but you can allow the interviewers to sample your value and style in a very concrete way. Subscribe to Nick Corcodilos' Ask The Headhunter newsletter for more on these techniques.
12. Stay connected and educated -- Isolation lets job-loss depression and inertia sneak in the door. It saps your energy. Fight it! Keep in touch with colleagues, attend networking events and professional meetings (focusing on what you have to offer, not just what you need), have breakfast and lunch meetings with new contacts and old friends. Attend professional development classes in your area of expertise, find education leading to certification in your new field of interest, teach a class in a local college. The connection with people and knowledge is a powerful stimulant for success.
13. Be prepared to wait -- Career transitions, especially in volatile markets, are a longer job search. If your field is shrinking, if there are mass layoffs, if you are looking for a second career as you near retirement, if you are seeking an upper executive position, your search will likely be extended. Plan for it by creating a flow chart of planned job search activities and by getting your finances in order so that you can make your resources last. Knowing that you are prepared and protected will keep you focused and on-task as the weeks and months pass. And if you are fortunate to find a new position quickly, you'll appreciate it even more.
14. Don't put all your eggs in one basket -- Job search in a market flooded with candidates is a "we want 125% fit because we think we can get it and we're not in a rush to hire" environment. Even top performers experience post-interview difficulty getting an answer as to why the process is taking so long, or if they are on the short list, or even if the position will be filled. Don't put your search on hold while waiting for the offer you are sure is coming. Even if you think the job is a sure thing after a great interview, in this market, there's a real chance it isn't.
15. Don't look for a job -- Conventional wisdom says the time to look for a job is when you start your new job. Today's wisdom says the time to look for a new job is never. Use the above tips to transition to the job you need now, and concurrently begin to engage in active career management -- career management that relies on value, continuous learning, proactive positioning, and generous "give to get" networking. Over time you will become visible, viable, and valuable. You will be the hunted, not the hunter. Opportunities will come to you. Your biggest challenge will be deciding which one you want.
Posted by Deb Dib, the CEO Coach
Cross-posted at Executive Power Brand blog