I uprooted my whole life in March because I could no longer make a living in real estate in Galveston, Texas. I spent my first three months in Atlanta unpacking and getting settled, being homesick and depressed and wondering what I was going to do next.
But self-pity isn’t a strategy. What I needed was a plan. So I sat myself down and gave myself a good talking to, ran some ideas past myself, and plotted my next steps. Once I started working my plan, I got a good job offer in three weeks… and four more in the month that followed!
I can’t promise my plan will work for you in the same timeframe — I don’t know your industry or market — but I am sure it will help you focus and move you toward your goal. Stay positive, and good luck!
1. Pick a lane.
When I got to Atlanta, I met with a few people, got a couple of tiny clients, taught a class, put up a website & Facebook page, took them down. I was all over the place — ready and willing to do anything for a buck, and hoping the universe would just drop an opportunity I couldn’t refuse in my lap. But the scatter-shot approach doesn’t work — ever. First of all, if you can’t answer the question, “What do you want to do?” with an excited three-minute elevator pitch, loaded with specificity about your skills, talents, experience, contributions, and goals, you’re not even ready to interview. People want to hire an expert who is passionate and single-minded about what they do.
The more things you try to do at once, the more you do poorly. If you want to do something well, including job-hunting, focus on just one thing. Pick a job role you want (and that you’re realistically qualified for), make sure your resume says it, and learn your elevator pitch so you can recite it anytime, anywhere. If you can’t sell yourself, how can you expect someone else to? And if you try to be all things to all people, you will be nothing to anybody.
2. Be a full-time job-hunter.
Job-hunting is your job until you get a better one. Get up in the morning and go to work like you would any other job. And don’t forget to exercise work-life balance. Give yourself time off from job-hunting to refresh. You’re not in jail, just unemployed.
3. Apply liberally.
I have yet to meet anyone who has actually gotten a job by making an online application. However, joining job sites lets you receive email alerts and can connect you to headhunters who can find you work. (Tip: Get a unique Gmail account just for this — to guard against spam and keep all your alerts and inquiries in one place.) I joined every site I could find and made at least a hundred individual applications. In the end, it was a couple of recruiters shopping The Ladders that got me to my first and third opportunities, even though I had previously applied directly through those same companies’ websites. Personal referrals and face-to-face networking got me to the other three. The job I’m in now came through a business relationship I have had for ten years!
4. Be a social media maniac.
Post your resume as a link on your website. Share it on Facebook, LinkedIn, and in your email signature. ASK FOR HELP! Tell everyone you know that you are looking for your next opportunity, and share your elevator pitch with them so they can promote you to their friends and family. Make it your LinkedIn tagline. Get LinkedIn recommendations on your page so you can point potential employers to them. If you see a job post that sounds interesting, search LinkedIn for connections to that company, then ask for an introduction. Post progress (or lack of) on your Facebook profile everyday so that people become invested in your search.
You cannot be low-key, private, or shy about putting yourself out there. It’s like the real estate agent who said to me, “I don’t want to put my phone number and email address on Facebook. Then everyone will have them.” “Oh, sorry,” I said. “I didn’t realize you were a secret agent!”
5. Be nimble.
I know I told you to pick a lane, but if someone approaches you with something a little different than what you imagined for yourself, be prepared to say, “That sounds like a wonderful opportunity that I could really get excited about!” You never know where the next fork in your road will be. And, frankly, employers find employed people more attractive than unemployed people.
6. Prepare to take a pay cut.
This is just an unfortunate reality. The first job I took put me back to what I was making in 1996 — a 25% pay cut from my last corporate job in 2006. But it was a healthy living wage, and it got me back in the saddle. It also forced me to review my personal budget and see where I could trim, like spring cleaning for your wallet. Did you know that 75% of something is way better than 100% of nothing??? And now, just a month later, I got that 25% back.
7. Embrace “perfect enough.”
The job offer you get may not be exactly what you were looking for, and you will probably have to compromise on a few things — location, hours, pay rate, benefits, travel, whatever. Don’t think of it as lowering your standards; make peace with the concept of “perfect enough.”
8. Pay it forward.
Once you’re back at work, it’s easy to fall back into comfort and complacency. But 9.x% of folks out there are still unemployed, so when one of them asks for help, help them! Pass their resume to your email list, post details of their search on FB, share with them what you’ve learned. The next time you need them, they’ll be there for you.
It takes a village. Let me know how your search is going. And, again, GOOD LUCK!