At Doran Leadership Partners, we are seeing an increasing number of people who are looking for their next opportunity. People whose jobs have been impacted by the pandemic, people who are re-prioritizing their lives both personally and professionally, and people who know they “just can’t go back when this is all over.” Some of these job seekers have not looked for a job in 15+ years – if ever – which makes the task all the more daunting.
If you haven’t looked for a job in a while, read on. This is Part I of a series on job search do’s and don’ts. We hope that these tips will help you start the journey with confidence, get noticed and seize upon the next great professional chapter in your life:
Approach your search as both a buyer and a seller
Of course, you’re selling your skills and experience to prospective employers. But remember: Not every role is right for you, nor are you right for every role. Be intentional about what works for you culturally and values-wise. Write down what you’ve learned from past experiences, good and bad, and use it as a check list when you’re evaluating a new opportunity. Also, on the back side of that sheet, write down your mid- and long-term career goals. Having this “compass” will help you stay true to yourself when you evaluate opportunities. And when it comes to interviewing, adopting a hybrid buyer and seller mindset can shift the power and help you show up stronger and more discerning.
Embrace more than one version of the next chapter
Effective job seekers know that there are several paths to meet their career objectives. As they approach their search and networking (more about this later), they’re able to articulate different “buckets” of attractive roles. For example, an aspiring manufacturing CEO might say that she’s targeting commercial leadership roles in Fortune 100 companies, business unit leadership in $1B+ companies, and President or COO roles in mid-sized privately held companies. Having 2-3 well defined “buckets” can provide a helpful roadmap for searching and help others give an assist in your process.
Beware the over-engineered resume
There are as many opinions about resumes as there are people to ask. At Doran Leadership Partners, we see thousands of resumes each year and we’d be remiss if we didn’t offer our two cents:
Keep it simple. No bar charts or pie charts or photos. It’s easier to highlight the things you are most proud of without them getting lost in clutter. Use fonts that are large enough for middle aged eyes to read, assisted.
Include a 3-5 phrase summary at the top that describes you and your area of focus. Austin Powers’ would be: “Accomplished spy and operative with broad international experience. Singular passion for fighting evil. Skilled at impressions and innuendo. High-style.” You get the drift!
For each professional experience, describe your employer (industry and size), your responsibilities and your results.
Use facts and figures whenever you can, like actual budgets, the size of your team, increases in revenues and profitability, etc. It’s one thing to say you’re good at your job, but it’s another thing to show it.
Keep your resume to a single page if you’re within three years of college graduation and two pages if you’re within fifteen years of college graduation. After that, it’s your call, but three pages is the absolute max.
Pay attention to the details
Grammar, typos and etiquette are still really important. We’re all moving really fast these days. After you draft an email, cover letter or thank you note, step away from it. Come back to it, revise it and – for the big stuff – have someone else proof it.
We’re often asked by people about what they should include in their LinkedIn profile. Our friends and neighbors at Navigate Forward recently published an article with great insight on LinkedIn profiles.
As a public forum, we think LinkedIn is a great place to cultivate your story, reputation, expertise and thought leadership. LinkedIn is also a pretty accurate barometer of industry trends, so it’s a great place to stay current, too.
So, keep your profile up to date and visible so you don’t come off like a wallflower, stay involved with industry groups, research prospective employers, stay in touch with peers and network in between. There’s a lot of utility to the world’s largest professional social network.
We hope that these tips help you get your ducks in order to be ready to start your search. Next in the series, we’ll share some tips for interviewing and follow up in the blog post “Winning the Interview”