If your career search needs a reboot, it pays to know the fundamentals of effective job seeking. Six Degrees Executive Managing Director, Nick Hindhaugh, a seasoned executive search expert with more than 20 years’ experience in the industry outlines his top six ways to reinvigorate your career search to help you land your next role faster…
1. Take control and don’t rely solely on job boards
Many people start their career search by sending off numerous applications to roles posted on job boards such as SEEK only to be disappointed when they don’t get any responses. Did you know the average response rate to online ads can be as low as 20%? Did you also know that more than 70% of jobs are never published or advertised publicly? Knowing these realities means you can adjust your career search accordingly.
Rather than relying solely on job boards, be clear on your purpose and tap into the ‘hidden job market’ by getting out there and networking or approaching organisations that you might want to work for.
2. Know what you stand for
Before applying for jobs take a close look at what you have achieved and where you have added value in your past roles. Writing down your story by focusing on what you have excelled at and what you are passionate about will help to clarify what it is that you want to achieve in your next role. You need to be clear on your purpose.
What industries, sectors and companies do you feel are most aligned to that purpose? Do you prefer working in a large or small enterprise? What are your values and “must-haves”? For example, do you place a value on an organisation’s environmental polices? Are flexible working arrangements an essential feature of your next role? Getting clear on what you stand for will help to ensure you know which roles and organisations to focus on.
3. Work out which organisations to target
Rather than sending out your resume to all and sundry, it pays to take a targeted approach to your career search. For example, if you want to work in consumer goods, consider the different categories that might be of interest. Walk the floors of a retailer and read trade journals to work through which of these you might consider such as footwear, apparel, electrical, stationery. The next step is to identify three to five organisations that operate within the categories you’re interested in, and then put together a list of people you know who work in those businesses. Get warm introductions and take control. Use LinkedIn and work through your first- and second-degree contacts to create your targeted list.
4. Network and get in front of people
At first it may feel a bit uncomfortable approaching people out of the blue, however, most people will be happy to connect with you if your objective is to understand their organisation better. Do it the old-fashioned way and ask someone for their help. You might approach a previous employer, a key supplier or colleague you used to work with who is working in one of your targeted organisations. You might also ask your contacts to introduce you to other relevant contacts. Never underestimate how effective networking is at giving you access to the hidden job market.
When you get in front of connections, show you’re interested in their organisation by seeking to understand what their opportunities and challenges are. If you can demonstrate that you understand their pain points and are able to weave into the conversation how your skills and experiences will add value to their organisation, then you are on the right track.
5. Bring your story to life
Most roles have at least five or six core areas of responsibility. Be clear on what your areas of expertise are and how these relate to the job in question. The most successful candidates are those who are able to create stories about their experiences (with a beginning, middle and an end) for each area of responsibility. These stories need to roll off your tongue with confidence in an interview. Rehearse them so that you are not trying to think of them on the spot.
Change your thinking, as interviewing doesn’t have to be a terrifying experience. Do your homework, find connection points to the role and the organisation’s culture and ‘bring your story to life’.
6. Demonstrate your grit
Although you might strike it lucky if someone approaches you about your dream role or you see a fantastic opportunity advertised on a job board, the reality is that most of the time landing a new role takes grit and determination. You need to have a clear plan and you need to treat your career search like you would treat exercise – you should be spending 30 minutes to an hour each day on it if you really want long term results.