Jun. 18, 2013 | Cindy Lee
I can’t tell you how many people tackle a job search backwards. Of
course that’s my opinion, and I’ll explain more because my approach is
What I mean by “backwards” is that most approaches take you through
exploring opportunities in the market and then figuring out if you can
fit into them; I believe you’re better off deciding your criteria first,
and then exploring what opportunities fit. When I help someone through
this journey, my intention is to help them find the right opportunity so
they can stay there as long as they hope to, rather than help them “get
a job” that they’ll want to leave because it goes against something
core that they didn’t consider.
I find that there are three commonly suggested approaches to go about
a job search these days, each with good intentions but through which I
believe you could also set yourself up to fail. I’ll explain my approach
as well, as the fourth one, and why I think it’s the ONE worth the
effort. Here’s an overview:
- Typical approach #1: “Update your resume, get it out there, and see what bites.”
- Typical approach #2: “Network, network, network!”
- Typical approach #3: “See what’s out there.”
- CindyLeeCoaching’s approach: “Navigate Your Career Transition With Integrity”
Today, I’ll focus on the first two (tomorrow I’ll cover the last two) –
Typical approach #1: “Update your resume, get it out there, and see what bites.”
It’s a numbers game banking on the hopes that if you send out hundreds
of resumes, you’ll get a couple dozen calls. From there, you enter the
job-dating game and interview around until the companies stop calling…
In the end, you *might* have a job, and hopefully it’s one you’d want.
- Common pitfalls:
- You start creating your resume by listing out everything you’ve done
in the past. It’s a snapshot of your career path and shows your
capabilities, but doesn’t necessarily help you understand your
preferences or how your career fits into your life.
- In order to hit the numbers, you find yourself settling for applying
to jobs you *can* do, even if you don’t really want to do them. You
could end up in a job just like one(s) you have left/are leaving behind.
- You end up with a bunch of interviews you don’t need. While having
some extra can be good for practice, having too many becomes a waste of
time – both yours and the company’s.
- Related to the first bullet, as you interview for the ones that
“bite,” you realize one after another that it’s just not quite what you
want. Chances are the companies will sense the same. It’s discouraging
to get rejected; it’s demoralizing to get rejected by many. You hate the
situation you’re in, and you drudgingly start over again.
- Redeeming quality:
You may get clearer about what you’re looking for / what you do not
want. Your resume is a tool to demonstrate your abilities and can serve
as a great opportunity to tell your story.
- Bottom line: In the end, it tends to waste a lot of time and can be an unnecessarily demoralizing process.
Typical approach #2: “Network, network, network!”
This refers to the more intentional, active practice of meeting people;
not just casual socializing. Similar to the previous approach, it’s a
numbers game – the premise is that the more people you meet, the better
sense you’ll get of what you’re looking for and the higher the chance
you’ll find your next employer. I’m not opposed to this approach per se,
but I believe the timing of it is crucial.
- Common pitfalls:
- You can’t quite articulate what you’re looking for, so people can’t really help you.
- You’re assertive and smart. People offer to help you out anyways,
and offer various suggestions that may sound lovely but may not match
quite who you are / may not utilize your strengths. This is a recipe for
disaster as you can set yourself up to fail if you pursue those
suggestions, particularly because these are not always people who know
you and have a personal desire to see you thrive. You could also
potentially burn bridges if you don’t follow their suggestions.
- You’re “open.” Similar to the previous bullet, you meet lots of
people, each with a suggestion of what you should do. But since you’re
“open,” you can get blown back and forth like a tree in the wind, still
- Redeeming quality: I
believe this approach is most effective once you’ve strengthened your
sense of identity and understand what matters most to you. With that in
mind, then you can further refine your search by talking to people;
potentially gather some worthwhile leads.
- Bottom line: In the
end, though you meet lots of people, they can’t be truly helpful until
you can articulate what you’re seeking. You’re not particularly clearer
about what you’re looking for, and your success here is up to chance and
other people. In the end, you *might* have a job, and hopefully it’s
one you’d want.
Have you experienced any of these I’ve mentioned so far? How well did it work for you?
Continue reading tomorrow where I
will discuss the last two job search approaches: the “See what’s out
there” approach, and the one I choose to use with my clients because I
believe it is the most effective and valuable. Stay tuned…!