It’s important to take action on things you can control while releasing what you cannot control throughout your job search. This was a key message during my “Maintaining a Positive Mindset through Your Job Search” webinar. Knowing how to distinguish the two can provide a sigh of relief, so you aren’t holding yourself to such high and unrealistic standards. It can also provide clarity and direction on what you could and should be taking action on. We discussed a couple of these very controllable and influential areas, but let’s dive deeper into some specific action steps you can take.
1. How can I initiate more relevant professional relationships?
Identify what you want and ask for it. Where in your career do you want to grow? What type of work excites you? If you aren’t in that desired field, reach out to people who are. Learn all you can from them to determine if you want to make a career change. If you don’t know anyone in that field, look for relevant groups and associations you can join. When you find your passion area, identify potential mentors, and ask them questions that help you. You’ll be surprised at how many people are willing to help, especially when you’re clear on your ask and aren’t taking too much of their time.
2. Who else in my network can help me?
As you identify influential or tenured people in your current or targeted field, get connected. Keep up with what they are sharing and posting on LinkedIn. Like and post a thoughtful comment that is more than a few words. Keep pace with those you resonate with most. When engaging with people and their content, you’re building a relationship, and it makes your first outreach less awkward or me-focused. You can send a direct message, share your thoughts on a recent post, and start a discussion. You can then ask for their advice, input, or help with whatever they might be able to provide. That is my definition of networking. Networking is essentially building relationships and having a mutually beneficial exchange. Since you’ve already been engaging with them, it’s more likely they’ll want to help you.
3. How can I expand my network?
List your top 10 dream places to work. Is anyone in your network employed there? You can also share your list with your recruiter and ask them which companies they support. Ask if they’d proactively share your resume with the right manager(s), even if there isn’t a current opening. You could also connect with employees at the company by searching LinkedIn to connect. This blind approach is more challenging. However, start with people within your shared connections or people with shared commonalities. Things in common can be shared interests, group memberships, college attended, similar job roles, careers, etc.
People in the same or similar job positions as yours are great people to connect with. Next, start a conversation with someone from that company and ask them questions. It can be something like; I see you’ve been with [company name] for [amount of time], what’s one of your favorite projects you’ve worked on. What’s your favorite thing about working for [company name]?
4. How can I get more feedback on my resume, LinkedIn profile, or other professional marketing channels?
Again, ask for what you need. This is where it’s helpful to have contacts that are at different levels within their career. If you can get feedback from someone at your level, one step above, and two above, you’ll have more specific feedback to digest and implement what feels best for you. Recruiters are great resources for soliciting feedback. Ask questions about your resume, such as: Are my specialties and targeted technologies clearly stated in my resume?
5. How can I get more feedback from interviews?
If you’re working with a recruiter or outside source, build a relationship with them, you may receive more feedback. If you’re applying online, get an interview, and are in touch with the HR department or recruiting team, you may still be able to get feedback. Feedback isn’t always proactively provided. I always recommend asking for feedback. Keep in mind that many companies have policies that restrict employees from giving specific feedback. I don’t recommend asking for feedback during the interview unless the interviewer wants you to clarify or expand on anything.
I also recommend identifying two questions you’d like answered for the interviewer to give specific feedback. When it comes to providing constructive feedback, people worry it may become an HR issue and get nervous. Sometimes they aren’t allowed to offer input. However, you won’t often get feedback unless you ask for it. Following are a few questions you can ask. Did my answers address the initial questions effectively? If not, can you please provide some feedback? Based on my answers, which technology do you recommend I brush up on? Did my responses have enough depth, and is it clear how I would contribute to the team? If not, please feel free to give feedback.
6. How else can I improve my interviewing skills?
Practice, practice, practice! Ask for help to do a mock interview. Hire a career coach who can do a mock interview and provide feedback. Record yourself in an interview and use that to listen and self-reflect. Do you have an upcoming interview? Reach out to an employee working there, start a conversation, and ask if they can share insight about the interview process or anything helpful for preparing. Building relationships and having conversations like these can lead to extremely beneficial information when preparing for your interview. It also helps with feeling more confident when you show up for your interview.
7. How else can I improve my brand?
Offer your expertise. You may not think you have much to offer, but you do! Write down your top three strengths. What are they? How can you offer to help your network? When you are sharing help, it’s easier to then ask for help. People will notice what you’re doing. Maybe it’s an offer to introduce a contact to someone else looking for work. Perhaps it’s sharing a recording of yourself that teaches your network something. Share your value; people and companies will see this, and you’ll stand out amongst your competition. It’s the easiest way to build your brand, offer help on what you’re already good at doing.
Access our recent webinar recording: “Maintaining a Positive Mindset through Your Job Search”
Author: Nichole Harrop, Career Coach