Monday, September 19, 2011

Back to School, Back to Work: You Need a Strategy

So you’ve imagined what both the ideal role and more realistic roles look like, now what? You need a strategy, and we’ve seen the best results by taking this approach:

· Say What You Want: Get your 30 second elevator speech down, and let everyone you know that’s what you’re looking for. The least helpful opening I get from candidates is “I’ll take any job, I just want to work.” Now, you and I both know that’s not true! What’s most helpful? “I’d like to leverage my volunteer fundraising experience in the non-profit world. Ideally, I’m looking for a mid-sized trade association in the Alexandria, VA area.” I can work with that, and now your friends and family can keep their eyes and ears open for those roles when they see them.

· Target List: Dust off those Microsoft Excel skills and make a job target list; one tab for job families and the other for organizations for whom you’d like to work. Make a list of all the jobs you’d like. For example, if you’re a CPA, you might have roles like: Big 4 firm, boutique accounting firm staff accounting, non profit controller. On the second tab, list all of the organizations for whom you’d like work. Wondering how you come up with that list? Think about companies you admire, past clients or vendors, and organizations where your friends and family work that have great things to say about their jobs. From a balance perspective, it’s always good to start with the “Best Companies” lists, either in Working Mother or other local publications, but I think the more telling list comes from observing the world around you. Who’s in heels at the bus stop? Where do they work?

· Build the Resume: We’ll cover this more extensively in the “Back –to-Work Resume” post, but you need resurrect the last resume you had and decide if you want to work from that or start from scratch. Consider the chronological verses functional format (and there’s a template on our website) and set aside some quiet, uninterrupted hours to work on this. You’ll likely get your next job from someone you know, but the resume is a necessary evil in the job search process, your paper-equivalent of an introduction, and it has to be perfect. One typo or inaccuracy kills an opportunity.

· Marry Them Up: Armed with your resurrected resume, use your rebuilt professional network (more on that later) to network your way into these roles. Ask everyone you know in your job search team if they know anyone with the job family roles on your target list. Who on your PTA committee knows someone at the companies on your target list? Add the organizations on your target list to the “Search” function on LinkedIn to find out who in your network’s network (think Six Degrees of Separation) works, or has worked, at that company. Use the online introductions to get into those companies. While you’re there, “follow” those companies to look at internal job postings, recent hires and press releases.

No comments: