These days your head is probably spinning with "expert" advice on how to get a job. And just when you need it most, the Five O'Clock Club -- a national outplacement and career coaching organization that helps members find a within an average 10 to 12 weeks, and has 25 years of experience and research to its credit -- has a new top 10 list.
Club President Kate Wendleton says it's time to apply some (proven, research-based) methodology to your job search madness.
After all, some people out there are getting hired, even in this dismal job market. "If you're using the right techniques, you will almost certainly," says Wendleton, adding that "online searches and job posts are a very, very small part of the equation. There are so many directions to go in when you start a that it often overwhelms people into inaction." She says methodology can help job hunters bring structure to a process that seems random.
Here are some of her top tips:
1. Don't jump in without a plan.
Most job hunters feel like they have to find a new job ... yesterday. And while, admittedly, sooner is better than later, it's important to take the time to do the necessary planning. Answer important questions like: What kind of job do you want? Where do you want to work? Where do you see yourself in five, 10, 15 years?
2. Don't just say, "I'll do anything and everything -- whatever job I can get, I'll take it."
"First of all, nobody wants to hire anyone who is willing to do anything," Wendleton says. "You won't be valuable to those employers, and they won't think you will be truly committed to them. You have to set targets for what you want to do and where you want to work."
3. Set targets -- and keep them in your sights.
Basically, this means narrowing down the industries you want to work in, the positions you want to hold, the geographic areas you're willing to move to and so forth. "Targets are essential because they help drive your search," Wendleton notes. "They take a process that can be overwhelming and give you a course to follow. If you find out that a certain target is not working for you, then you can simply go after the next one."
4. Remember, there's no DIY in "job search."
The big fad is to do everything online, with webinars and other e-learning opportunities. Those aren't bad, but one-on-one and/or small group coaching can help keep you positive and on track. "Job hunters need feedback," says Wendleton. "They need to work with people who can get to know them, give them advice on how to improve their resumes and cover letters, set them straight when they're off track and hold them accountable."
5. "Card" yourself.
Make a 3x5 index card that holds the personalized keys to yoursuccess. It helps you narrow down and stay focused on your most important "talking points." Your card will include the short pitch about yourself to use when you meet a new contact, in interviews, or at other events or meetings.
Here's an example: "I am a marketing manager with 12 years of international experience. In my most recent job, I was able to grow revenue by 20 percent, even in a bad market. The reason I am right now is that the company I work for has decided it doesn't want to continue its international operations. I am talking to you because I can see that your organization is very interested in growing internationally."
Your card should also include three or four of your personal accomplishments. And finally, your card should include the one question you are most afraid they are going to ask you along with your answer.
6. Shape your own interview.
The unfortunate reality is that managers who are hiring don't always ask the right questions. When this is the case, as the job hunter, you have to figure out a way to get your strengths and accomplishments into the interview. "You might expect the person interviewing you to prepare just as much as you did for the interview," Wendleton says.
"But that rarely happens. When this is the case, you don't have to surrender to her poor preparation. You can revive the situation by creating your own interview. Use the information on your index card to keep the conversation flowing, and keep it flowing in a direction that works to your advantage."
7.with the big dogs.
"One of the problems with the way people network is that they just talk to everyone they know. Unfortunately, everyone they know is in the same field or the same age group as them, and more often than not, they are peers. They might know about jobs at their companies, but they might not have the authority to recommend you to the hiring manager," she says.
"Networking that counts happens when you are contacting people who are one or two levels higher than you are. You're not going to get a job until you talk to the right people who are more senior than you and who will think of you when there is an opening at their company."
8. If an interviewer doesn't "bite," don't toss him back in the water.
In other words, don't just discard someone who tells you his company has no openings. If a person is at the right level and at the right company, he or she is just as valuable to you as someone with an opening. That's because you can ask him this important question: "If you were hiring right now, would you hire someone like me?"
9. Don't be afraid to be a "pest."
Follow up, follow up, and follow up again.
After you interview with a company or meet with a senior-level contact, you need to spend just as much time developing that relationship as you did prior to the meeting. Wendleton advises you to think of it this way: Say there's a kid who wants to get his first job and he goes to his local grocery store. The first week they tell him they aren't hiring. So he goes back the next week and then the next. Finally, the manager agrees to hire him. The same general idea holds true for senior-level people and big companies.
10. If you get an offer, don't assume you're home free.
Aim to have three concurrent offers in the works at any one time. These offers don't have to be jobs that you actually want to take, but having them in the works gives you a psychological edge -- if you have only one thing in the works, the interviewer can tell and you could sound desperate rather than in demand. Having multiple offers also helps keep you positive. It helps you keep your momentum going.
Most important of all, Wendleton advises not to sell yourself short. "You're not just looking for a 'job,'" Wendleton says. "You're taking the next step in developing and shaping your career. Your skills are valuable. You do have something to offer. And somewhere out there is a company that wants and needs that something. You owe it to yourself to do what it takes to find them."
If you need any help implementing any of these steps -- from assessing your strengths, to finding the right coach, or finding a job hunting support group and beyond, The Five O'Clock Club is there for you. The Five O'Clock Club produces its own books, CDs and other learning tools based on research, and its website provides hundreds of free articles and audio recordings on the subjects of job searching and career development.
- State of the Union: Investing in America's Future [The Huffington Post]
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