As a mid career professional you will have no doubt observed the art and science involved in getting a job. More than once you may have uttered out loud or under your breath, ‘how did they get that job’? If you read and action the 10 steps below you will have THE strategy to get a job and the skills to rinse and repeat again and again. Let’s get your game on, cause it’s time to start competing for your career.
The important part of job preparation is not the CV, it’s the strategy you wrap around that CV. It’s kinda like your favourite sporting team whether that’s basketball, baseball, rugby, hockey or cricket. If your team literally JUST turned up to each match they wouldn’t win. Each person has high-level professional skills, years of experience but without a strategy, a game plan, people with skills and experience to leverage and even tailoring the game plan to the opposition, what is their likelihood of success? If they prepare a strategy, leverage their resources and tailor it they are exponentially increasing their chances of winning! That goes for you too! Sending out random CV’s and not knowing where you are going with your next career step, with no plan other than to escape your current employer. It may mean you come across to potential employers as desperate. So here are our top tips and all you ever needed to know about getting a new job. Nobody teaches you these things!
- Know what you want to apply for?
A study came out in May this year in the Journal of Applied Psychology which noted the clarity of your career goals and the associated job search activities were the key predictors of success i.e. getting you a job. It sounds so obvious right?! But sooooo many people have nooooo idea what they are looking for. Before you start applying for jobs you need to do the homework first and think about your own criteria. As a mid career professional you will have a good idea of what you don’t like in terms of job design, organisational structure, autonomy but you may not have spent alot of time thinking about what you do want? Sometimes the hardest part is to narrow down your focus so maybe pick 2 industries and take a ‘sprint approach’ with research, networking and applications for 5 weeks and expand to new industries.
2. Take the time to apply
If you don’t have a lot of time you don’t want to be spending one more second than you have to on finding a new job. If you are wishy washy about this process, you could be lucky to snag a job but mostly you will be wasting your time sending an ‘average’ application. Remember that this is a competitive process. On average a really good application will take you 6-12 hours starting from scratch. For most of you working full time these are hours you need to commit to outside your job and family commitments. That doesn’t even take into account your research on websites, setting up your application watch list. So you need to dedicate time. The best way to do this is to put a fairly tight time limit. Maybe work with someone else that is working towards a goal and take 2 weeks to update your CV and LinkedIn.
3. Actually apply
about elite performance. The same advice can be applied to your career. You miss 100% of the jobs you don’t apply for, so quit standing on the sidelines and jump in and compete. And an extra special note for our female readers, as this is the competitive process and in knowing your competition you need to be aware that according to a recent HBR article men are applying for roles when they meet only 60% of the qualifications whereas women are applying when they meet 100% of the qualifications. So summary advice for all candidates in applying. If the role looks interesting and you think you have a shot, throw your hat in the ring and apply before your competition does!
4. Research your industry
Urrrgh! I know, it takes time but it can be something you can do everyday to chip away at the task and for all you introverts out there – this will be your favourite part. Start with desktop research. We will presumed you have researched yourself, you know who you are, your interests, career pathways to focus on. If you haven’t taken the time to work out who you are, what lights your fire, how your day and your role can be structured to ideal conditions, then take a look at our blog post on the 3 steps for getting your career unstuck and then come back to researching industries and roles. Start your research withing the industry you are most familiar with. Build an ecosystem map of your organisation and the network of other businesses in your industry from government departments and consulting firms through to small to medium enterprise, the big players, their competitors and the startups or scale-ups service them. Then take a macro view. Look at government data sources on predictions and trends in your industries, look into industry reports such as Ibis World or your professional associations work in the area. Switch on Google Alerts to search passively for you on ‘trends in…(insert your industry). Search on LinkedIn. Uncovered organisations you may not be aware of and start collating them in a spreadsheet.
5. Research other industries
There is never one yellow brick road and I am yet to come across a single candidate who doesn’t have skills they couldn’t transfer across to a new industry. Be curious in your exploratory phase and look at other industries who may also value your skills and experience. Make this process a creative one to consider some wild options to get those creative juices flowing. Be led by your interests. You may have a fascination with space, fashion or sustainability? Explore how you could transfer your current skills into an industry ecosystem of interest? What would the smallest leap you can make? e.g. you are currently employed in logistics with an interest in sustainability.
What waste companies would require your skills and experience? Start with the ‘easiest sell’. Then apply the same research skills as above to increase your knowledge of the industry and where it is going? Check out the Australian Government’s Skills Match website for ideas on industries to transfer your skills into. Skills Match shows personalised career matches based on an individual’s work history. For each new job idea, key insights are highlighted such as average weekly earnings, as well as the main skills required, and preferred qualifications.
Understand the kind of change you want to make. Is it a small step or a big leap? Set you your google alerts and Linkedin news as well as look at professional associations in your industry area of interest. Often these professional associations have a membership list you can use to explore the local companies. These associations have other news sources like webinars, seminars and newsletters for you to explore but remember to put a time limit on your research or your time will expand to the task you have set! Sometimes in researching new industries or roles you may need to reach out through friends or to your network to understand more about the industry and your role.
6. Collate a list of employers and roles
Now you have explored many industry areas it’s time to get the ole google sheets cranked up and take a look at breaking down the industry areas into a list of priorities. Top of the list is your first pick of employers and the title they call the roles you want to apply for in that company. You may not have a criteria to prioritise your job search. If you don’t like to be too prescriptive just go with a list for exploration. From your list you may also start to measure the company or roles against your criteria. Your criteria may be several areas you have identified from alignment to personal values, or level of transparency, through to salary, geographic area, opportunities for promotion and managing teams. Understand why the businesses are hiring? Having roles and organisations constantly mapped against your personal criteria helps narrow your job search process and save you time in the application process.
7. Stop and refresh
Take a look at how you are positioning yourself. You are already communicating to employers and recruiters via LinkedIn so check in your value proposition is aligned and threaded through your LinkedIn profile. Check your personal photo and background photo. tagline and summary. Now you are identifying areas of focus you may want to return to your Linkedin profile (heavens above you don’t have one) and CV and make sure there is a connection between the roles you are applying for and how you frame who you are and what your experience and capabilities are. Share your LinkedIn profile with 5 colleagues and ask them to write 3 words about you based purely on the information on Linkedin including personal photo, background image, name, tag line, summary. Is the message consistent? Is there in alignment between what they see and who you are? You need to find your ‘red thread’ and work on your value proposition or some call it your elevator pitch. It’s basically a succinct way to summarise your experience.
Hot tips. Photo head shot. Ladies and gents no skin off the shoulder, unless you’re a PT and you are living the results. No wine/alcohol in shot unless you are a wine rep and no overly filtered snap chat bunny ears/soft lens images unless you are an influencer. Present professionally and background images is your support act. Summary? Does it also align with what you are saying in your CV. Are you tailoring your CV to each role, thinking about the positioning of your experience. Remember on Linked recruiters and potential employers can search for you based on your tag line, qualifications and experience so if you don’t make it explicit what you do or how you skills translate you won’t be found. And if you don’t have a Linkedin in account, yes it is essential and yes you need to get one. LinkedIn is not just for your next job, its the one after that and the one after that! Do you really want to collate your network contacts via Facebook or a Googlesheet? Righto, well get onto it! And would you believe we have even created a super handy video for you to update your LinkedIn profile
8. Stay ‘Alert‘
The majority of people in the workforce consider job searching a passive process. You queue up and are picked like fish from a pond. You have more control than that! We have already mentioned google alerts. For each of the employers you have added to your Googlesheet sign up to their jobs notifications, any newsletters of interest. Go onto LinkedIn and follow the company and opportunities there and set up your job alerts here and also on your favourite job search sites. Contact and reach out to recruiters who specialise in placing people in your field. Sign up to the jobs notifications and newsletter of your professional association. If you aren’t part of a professional association, join one or find where your tribe may play? Jump on twitter and research the company and any of their key people and follow the ‘breadcrumbs’. the tiny pieces of information that can help you build up an idea of the company and understand and exploit opportunity.
9. Respond to opportunity
If you have decided you are in the zone, be ready to act. If you see an article about a scale-up’s funding announcement, get in contact? If you see the Amazon have announced they are building a fulfillment centre in your local area and you are pretty sure they will need a COO get straight onto the website, if there are no advertised positions, get onto their Talent Acquisition team through their website, give them a call, enquire about new roles. If you can’t find them on their website get onto a Talent Acquisition member through LinkedIn. Have a short sentence prepared to summarise your experience and capabilities and create a ‘blue ocean’ job search strategy where you have removed your competition.
10. Tailor your applications and approach
A local small to medium enterprise recently advertised a role in the engineering space as a sales representative. The employer asked as part of the application that candidates complete a cover letter. Out of 170 applicants only 30 completed the required cover letter. It made shortlisting pretty easy! Research the company, understand your audience and pay attention to the application requirements. Understand who they are as an employer cause as a candidate you often forget this part of the process is as much about you understanding more about them then they are understanding more about you? Understand who are they, don’t regurgitate the information on their ‘about us’ page, chances are someone on the panel either wrote or approved those words. Understand and articulate what makes the beautiful connection of them and you? Apply this to your cover letter and your interview when they ask why they should hire you? But we are one step ahead cause you know you want to rock that online interview and we have the video for you!
Whether you want some general industry knowledge or specific information on an employer or role. These are often called informational interviews and a great way to build knowledge of an industry, employer or role. Search your Linkedin in contacts for anyone you know as a first degree connections in the list of companies you are interested in. Start with warm connections and ask them for a quick chat to understand the company, if they are in the same department, can they give you some background on why they are hiring? What their recruitment process is like?
If you are moving industries maybe even reach out to contacts who have an overview of the sector. Say you were moving from construction to government. Start broadly by speaking to your warm contacts in govt. If you can’t find anyone in your warm contacts try other links between you and that person, did you come from the same area, go to the same college or university? Find the link and leverage the connection to build trust and connection. Be prepared for no response, or I’m too busy. Life is crazy and people don’t always have the time to share. Move on and find someone else.
Even consider the smallest thing a network connection can say yes to? I call it the micro ‘yes’. Something simple and easy for a busy person to say yes to. Could you ask for a 15min zoom chat? Offer them a coffee? Make sure you are also developing an understanding of the process of application as part of your conversation if they have an understanding of it and some key insights and tips. You can even utilise your contacts for an internal recommendation. Some companies like the big ones, Google and Amazon have a referral system so if you find someone on the inside you know and is happy to recommend you this can get you past the first post of their applicant tracking system. Your contacts may also be influential in the job application process by ‘putting in a good word for you’ to someone on the recruitment panel. Being known to someone on the recruitment panel for the right reasons before you interview for a role sets you apart from your competition.
In working through each of these 10 steps you have been exploring yourself and the jobs market, understanding and acting on opportunities and positioning yourself for success. Getting a job you want is not a passive process and worth investing the time to build and execute a great application!