M. DeFalco of Winnipeg, MB, emailed me this question: How would you start searching for a job today?
Many factors influence a job search, such as the job seeker’s age, location, profession, level of experience, digital footprint, expected starting salary, and if they cultivated a professional network. In addition, there’s the ongoing carnage in the job market, especially in the tech sector, and an economy rapidly heading south. Nowadays, the job market is hostile, which job seekers must tame.
If you had asked me when I was in my 20s what my dream job looked like, I’d have answered:
- A well-known company, preferably a household name (e.g., GE, Bell, GM, Ontario Hydro).
- A title that bolsters my professional image and resume.
- High pay, with plenty of benefits and perks.
- A wide range of internal career paths I could pursue.
- Having the opportunity to work on creative projects.
- Gaining career-advancing experience.
If you ask me now:
- Company stability, both financially and in terms of industry.
- Believing in the company’s mission.
- Alignment of the company’s values with my own.
- A harmonious working relationship with my boss and coworkers.
- Having a direct, measurable, and visible impact on the company’s success.
- Having autonomy.
If I were starting a job search tomorrow, the four steps I’d take are:
Step 1: Make an announcement.
My first step would be to heed the adage: A closed mouth doesn’t get fed. I’d inform, via phone calls, everyone I know—family, friends, my entire professional network—that I’m looking for a new job. I wouldn’t simply say, “I’m looking for a job.” I’d specify the type of job I’m seeking (industry, title, location). For example, “Unfortunately, I was part of Ponsonbys downsizing, which you may have heard about in the news. I’m now seeking a digital marketing position with a mid-size fashion house, ideally based in mid-Toronto.”
The more people are aware of my situation, the greater the likelihood of opportunities being presented to me.
In addition to my announcement, I’d activate LinkedIn’s ‘Open To Work’ feature. Activating this feature will display a green banner (#OPENTOWORK) on my profile picture, indicating that I’m interested in new employment opportunities.
Step 2: List the benefits of hiring me.
Today businesses are focused on keeping their workforce pared down to business-critical functions only. Having overhired and an expected recession are the reasons for most of the layoffs and hiring freezes so far this year, which I believe will continue throughout next year. Companies are cutting jobs that are distracting from the company’s profitability.
Keeping in mind today’s businesses have a lean mentality, I’d list all the benefits of hiring me. In other words, what would an employer gain by hiring me?
- My extensive industry experience, including being well-connected within my industry and profession?
- My expertise as a subject matter expert (SME) in a particular area of my profession?
- My having a proven and measurable track record?
- My being bilingual?
I’d list all my skills (hard and soft) along with my experience using my skills, which is worth paying for.
Step 3: Update my LinkedIn profile and resume.
Employers hire for results. Therefore, I’d edit, where necessary, my LinkedIn profile to be results-oriented. Instead of using non-quantifiable statements that seem like opinions, I want my profile to be filled with quantifiable sentences—sentences with numbers that quantify. Using quantifiable sentences will make my work structure, productivity, and results tangible.
- Unquantified: Improved staff performance across all divisions, resulting in increased profits.
- Quantified: Led a staff of 20 employees with innovative policies that yielded a 27% increase in profits over the previous year.
- Unquantified: Answered calls.
- Quantified: Handled 80-100 inbound customer calls per day.
I’d reflect on my past 10 years and ask myself where and how I:
- Increased revenue, profit, or generated sales. (The more you can speak to this, the better.)
- Increased (or reduced) X by Y%.
- Saved time.
- Improved a process, thus saving money and/or time.
I’d also think about what accuracy I’ve achieved, the quantity of work I did and the amount I processed. Very few job-related tasks can’t be quantified in some way.
Once my LinkedIn profile reads as I want it to, including having filled out all the sections (e.g., education, licenses & certifications, skills, languages, volunteer experience), I’d update my resume, so it too was result oriented.
NOTE: Studies have shown that complete and optimized profiles increase the likelihood of being found and receiving opportunities by 40 times.
Lastly, before officially kicking off my job search, which’ll mostly involve my reaching out to hiring managers and recruiters to tap into the hidden job market, I’d reflect on what I want my next job and employer to look like and, most importantly, where I see myself fitting in.
As I’ve mentioned in previous columns, making finding where you belong a priority is the best compass a job seeker can use. Therefore, my job search won’t be the traditional “I’m looking for a job.” Instead, I’ll be looking for where I’ll be accepted. Hence, I won’t be looking for a job; I’ll be looking for my tribe.”
Nick Kossovan, a well-seasoned veteran of the corporate landscape, offers advice on searching for a job. You can send Nick your questions at [email protected].