A 2010 Call to Action: STOP Your Aimless Job Search

Phew, 2010 is here, and its  time to call for an END to Job Searching. Yes, that is what I said.  An interesting statistic was brought to my attention this week by my blogger friend, GL Hoffman: The average unemployed person spends 18 minutes a day hunting for a job. Gleaned from the current issue of Harper’s Index, this Labor Department research  fact came via Toby Dayton of  diggings, another interesting blog to check out.

Sacré bleu, how can this be, you must be thinking! Has all my work been in vain? …I thought at first. This is no doubt a shocking number to see, particularly for all of the job seekers who know they have put in hundreds of hours towards their search, but to no avail.

My hunch is that a good number of job seekers give up in frustration. I certainly see a lot of discouraged people that have by the time they come and see me. Trying to make sense of this crazy statistic, GL wonders whether it might be laziness or ignorance and yes, that does sound harsh, considering that we are facing the worst job market since the depression. My take on why this number might be so low: Confusion, Paralysis, People are adrift in the job market void? The techniques and strategies for finding that elusive position have changed, and the work of finding a job has never been more demanding or more sophisticated. The job hunt process of 2009 and now 2010 looks nothing like the job search of 2001 or any other time before this.

So here is my recommendation for the New Year: STOP JOB SEARCHING. And before you protest, let me tell you why, and what you need to be doing instead.stopsign

The job search of this last decade was made ‘easy’ by the “job boards” that brought opportunities straight to us via email. It doesn’t get any easier than that, and in fact, I personally benefited from this having learned of my last 2 positions when they landed in my mailbox. So what happened?   Dare I say that we got a little complacent?  Have the job boards turned job seekers into passive participants in their search for gainful employment?

Fast forward-> 2010. The job market is improving, but there is still not enough to go around. Not much happening on the job boards, and yet that is where most people still hang out “searching” for that next gig.  No wonder people give up so quickly. They don’t hear anything back, and feel the whole job search is futile. So what’s the deal?

2010 Realities: Along with telephone landlines, the fax, and dial-up Internet connections, could job boards, at least the big “monster” boards becoming obsolete?

5 Strategies for Finding a Job in 2010

1. In 2010 finding a job is about Research, it’s not just a search. Job seekers need to, first and foremost, think of themselves as detectives because Research_scientistfinding a job today is akin to a murder mystery and you need to solve it. You have to research the different roles that could benefit from your skills and the companies that would value your expertise. You need to research where do working professionals in your field or desired career convene and you need to find out when is their next meeting. You need to research what are the industries that are hiring, and the names of companies in your targeted geographic location. You need to research who are the thought leaders in your (desired) field, and reach out and talk with them (and I’ll talk more about that in the networking)

You need to think of yourself as Scientist, dissecting your field and the people and you will find the clues to guide your way. Without these, you won’t know what you are searching for, and you may be wandering in a desert, waiting for those elusive jobs to appear, for a long time.

2. Finding a job is about assessment and a level of self-exploration that you may not be used to. Lets call this research on yourself. With the fierce competition, you have no choice but to help others see your value, because nobody is going to take the time to look for it. This involves a process of self-assessment and evaluation. Ideally, this is something you would do with a career coach, who as an objective observer and trained professional, who can help you articulate your strengths and value in the most compelling way.  This is exactly where so many job seekers get stuck because this is not easy.  Every client I coach answers a long list of questions and self-exploration questions, that challenges them to dig deep into identifying what is the most important part of who they are, what they do, and what they love.  The goal of this process takes us to the next tenet of the 2010 Job Search.

3. Finding a job today is about self- branding 20 years ago, Tom Peters,  was bold enough to suggest that branding wasn’t just for corporations or products, but was an imperative for the individual to survive in the marketplace. He could not have been more accurate, and today, more than ever, if the job seeker does not heed this advice, they will remain lost in the ocean swell of job seekers. Defining and refining who you are so others clearly understand what you can offer, and how you differ from the next person with the same skill set, is what you need to be working on. As Peters wisely advocates:

“Regardless of age, regardless of position, regardless of the business we happen to be in, all of us need to understand the importance of branding. We are CEOs of our own companies: Me Inc. To be in business today, our most important job is to be head marketer for the brand called You. It’s that simple — and that hard. And that inescapable.”

By clearly identifying your talent and your passion, it’s that much easier to get others on board with you.  But what are you supposed to do once you have this brand?  You shamelessly promote it.

4. Finding a job today is about Marketing – Once again Peters couldn’t have said it better, and this applies to every one: “…our most important job is to be head marketer for the brand called You.” Along with establishing your personal brand, marketing oneself is a central tenet of the new job search paradigm. Now, understandably if this is your first time looking for a job in 5, 10, or 20 years, you may not know where to begin, but that doesn’t mean you cannot learn. In fact, marketing oneself has never been easier or more accessible with the growth of Web 2.0 and the social networking sites. Linkedin, Twitter and Facebook, if used strategically, all enable you get your message out to your target audience. Not only can you market yourself via this medium but they allow you to put your networking on steroids, if you will, and that takes us to the last and most important element of what it takes to finding a job today.

5. Today, finding a job is about Networking. Okay, I know you have heard this a gazillion times (almost, right?) and that is because, ultimately networking done right has always been the most successful route to finding your next opportunity.  The problem is that the process of networking is far more complex than meets the eye and with the advent of social networking sites like Linkedin, Twitter and Facebook, networking takes on a whole new dimension.  If done right, and you integrate networking activity into your daily life, if it is consistent, and strategic and it is about building relationships, your networking will work. I have to admit however, that I am constantly amazed how limited most job seekers networking efforts are, which is why I started a monthly speed networking program at my local library. I called it the Art of Networking although networking is really both an art and a science; and if you don’t practice it,  find your rhythm and a mode that is comfortable and manageable for you it will not work. Once again, because so many job seekers, either don’t do it, or don’t do it properly, or enough, they lose faith in the process and give up… and land up with a statistic next to their name.

So, the 2010 challenge is on: Whether you are a job seeker, career changer, or hard working individual looking for a better gig, the goal is to limit yourself to one hour a day, if that, on a job board, and work on getting your head around these five strategies.  As you can see, they are not about “searching” and will take more than 18 minutes a day, but you can do it and it might be a lot easier than you imagine.  Call me to find out how I can help you embrace this new job search paradigm.

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