by: Ian McEwen
Today’s economic downturn in the auto industry is a reality. This sector is shedding jobs across a wide area – at the manufacturing floor level and the boardroom level. What we have seen in our Outplacement practice over the past several months from job-loss victims is apart from the anxiety, it is the uncertainty of what to do and how to do it. Prior to the economic malaise, most people had not been on a job search for a long time. Now in this employer-centric environment, the competition for jobs is intense and most recently, displaced workers don’t have the techniques to conduct a successful job search.
What does a job hunter do these days? Start with a Plan, or Plan to Fail!
Know Yourself: One of the first things to do is understand and define your talents – your unique strengths, skills and personal attributes that you can clearly offer to a prospective employer. You need to be able to support your skill set with specific performance measurement examples including monetary and percentages. It is very important not to stray from your core competencies and present yourself as a ‘jack of all trades’ and thus diluting your image.
Make the Right Call: It is highly unlikely you will jump at the first job opportunity that comes along, especially if you don’t have the passion for doing it. Investigate your options thoroughly, even self-employment. And, even if your career moves laterally, in the end you want to find something that is rewarding and can provide new experiences.
Set a Realistic Pace: Establish time parameters for accomplishing tasks outlined in your daily to-do list. Your full time job in your 8-hour workday is getting a job. Keep a good pace and don’t slack off just because work isn’t filling the time. Maintain momentum and a positive attitude.
Build a Strong Resumé: This document is the primary tool that potential employers will use to evaluate your qualifications. It is your product brochure, and it tells why you stand head and shoulders above your competition. Your resumé needs to include all contact information including cell phone and email address. The objective statement will specifically explain how you bring immediate value to a prospective employer. The evidence section outlines your employment background which is factual and verifiable. Employers don’t want to read a job description resumé. They are interested in what you did, not what you were supposed to do. Your resumé should elicit questions on how you accomplished what is identified on the resumé.
Establish a team and network of support: A well executed network is crucial in directing you toward the job you really want. Use today’s technology, especially social networking sites and associations to spread the work and even let employers find you. Post your resumé on industry specific websites and contribute regularly to on-line discussion groups to demonstrate your expertise. Blanketing the world with your resumé is ineffective and shows lack of organization and focus.
Build a company prospect/contact list: Target a variety of businesses – large and small. Make a list of all your company’s competitors who would employ people with your skills and experience. Think about all the suppliers that provided products and/or services to your company. Develop a list of end users or customers of your former company. What about former marketing and promotional companies and agencies? And, keep a current accurate contact management spreadsheet which becomes your ‘call to action’ listing. Don’t be interested in just vacancies. Target companies in which you have a genuine interest. And, check out the career sections of their websites.
Practice for interviews: Be prepared for an interview and practice, practice, practice. Make sure you research the company, know the industry and company trends, and know the job to which you are applying. “Google” the names of the person(s) who will be interviewing you. Get a former colleague or family member to conduct mock interviews and practice answering questions that highlight your career successes. Create a positive 1st impression, take notes during the interview and follow-up with an appreciative thank-you note.
These steps are a critical foundation for those who find themselves at a career crossroad. If you have the credentials, the experience, and a clear idea of the direction you want your career to take, you shouldn’t have a problem landing on your feet. Remember, when one door closes, another will always open.