By Therese Marie Boldt
March 19, 2009
If you are reading this, you are most likely a business leader. If you are a business leader who has worked for one organization for more than 10 years, you’ll want to continue reading.
Statistics show that people between the ages of 18 and 38 change jobs an average of 10 times. Think back in your career. How many times have you made a job change? Fast forward to now. If you are like most people, you have probably not made many changes in this middle part of your career. Your needs have changed; perhaps your focus has been on growing within your corporation versus exploring opportunities outside the organization. In any event, you probably have not kept up your job seeking skills - skills, I might add, you are not born with.
In order to advance within your field of choice, you must build leadership skills - vision, clearly defined goals and objectives, solid communication skills and motivation. For today’s leader, however, there is one more skill to add to the list: Job Search Capability.
In today’s uncertain economy, many leaders who have heretofore enjoyed “job stability” now find themselves looking down the job search path. It seems no one is immune to receiving the dreaded pink slip, and when it arrives, most of these people are ill equipped to handle the daunting task of successfully finding a job.
Finding a job – no matter what your title – is a job.
The skills required to do this job (land a position that meets all your needs) are not necessarily intuitive. In order to transition effectively, you will need some basic skills in order to succeed.
What do these New Leadership Skills look like?
Leaders who successfully land in positions: Have the ability to see possibilities despite current reality.
Losing a job is tough. It’s not unusual to get stopped by the initial shock of it all. The people who are successful at getting jobs are able to move beyond the depression, the fear, the anxiety, the anger and all the other emotions that emerge when they lose their job and set their sights on what they will need to do each day. These people are not ignoring that the situation is grim, rather they are creating forward momentum by focusing on what they can control - their attitudes and their search activities.
Know who they are
They know who they are at the very core, and they know their strengths and weaknesses. In today’s economy, more and more people are finding it necessary to change careers - to “recareer” if you will. They look within and discover what they are great at and what they are not so great at. Many people in job transition complete a personal SWOT (Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities, Threats) Analysis to explore what sorts of careers make sense for them. If they haven’t already done so during the normal course of their professional development, they complete assessments that help them understand how they are wired: assessments like the DiSC Personality Profile System, the Myers Briggs Type Indicator, the Clifton Strengthsfinder and the Birkman Method. They aren’t afraid to admit there are behaviors that could be keeping them from reaching their goals. Successfully landing a job for these leaders is not just about paying the bills. Rather, it is a quest to find a position that is truly a reflection of who they are. Importantly, successful job hunters are humble. They realize they will land a job more quickly by tapping into their network than by going it alone.
Develop a search plan and work their plan
Looking for a position requires a diversified strategy: using the Internet, working with recruiters, going to job fairs, conferences, networking events, etc. Successful job seekers map out the daily activities that need to happen, and they discipline themselves to make them happen. They spend five or more hours per day involved in search activities. They develop call plans, determine who to talk with, and schedule meetings with the people who can help them move their search forward. And they frequently reflect back on their activities. Then, they make necessary adjustments.
Use technology to their advantage
I call it “Techno-Awareness:” you don’t have to be technologically advanced to be aware of the technologies necessary to conduct an effective search. Successful job seekers aren’t afraid to use technology, and if they don’t have such skills they build them. If you are over 40, and you have not looked for a job in the last 15 years, you may not know about many resources now available to you with just a click of the mouse. From conducting Internet research on firms you’d like to work for, to online networking, to learning about resume writing and interviewing, there are free resources if you just look for them. It’s no longer the norm to send a hard copy of your resume with a carefully written cover letter to a prospective employer. You will be expected to navigate a host of posting sites using a variety of formats.
Communicate effectively in all forms
They present themselves well in person, on the phone and in writing. What communication skills are necessary in the context of a search? It’s important to have a well written, accurate resume to present to potential employers. In addition to creating an effective resume, proofread cover letters, application forms and e-mail messages to ensure that information is presented neatly and honestly. With respect to verbal communications: successful job seekers develop an effective presentation that gets them noticed. They practice their 30-second commercial so that when they meet a potential employer or a referral source, they are ready to share who they are and what they do in a positive, confident manner.
Leave no stone unturned
They persist and tap into all resources. The most successful job seekers leave no stone unturned. When they hear “no” from an employer, they persist and ask who that employer can connect them with. They attend job fairs, association meetings, networking events. They contact their school’s alumni association; join job search groups at their churches; volunteer their time with community organizations in order to connect with people. Each activity leads to another activity…each contact leads to another contact. In the end, they know that it takes just one lead - just one contact - to say, “Yes, we’re interested in bringing you on board.”
So how do your skills stack up? What would happen if you found out tomorrow that your position was being eliminated? Are you equipped to land in a new position? Are you prepared to conduct an effective search? Or will you need to build your job search capability?
Therese Marie Boldt is a leadership coach who works with business leaders who are committed to developing themselves (and their people) to be the very best. She is FOX2 Detroit’s Career Coach, offering tips and advice. She can be reached at [email protected]