When in-between jobs and preparing for your next career, make amends for the sacrifices of the last one.
Write It Down
Make a personal journal of your transition experience. Keep track of daily events and observations that may result in new opportunities for you. What job postings or recommendations got your attention each day? Keep clippings from newspapers and printed copies of lists or reference information from web sites in an organized manner so this information is readily available at your fingertips. Treat this information gathering as your own research project. As you investigate, more opportunities will become available to you. Don’t lose an opportunity simply because you lost track of it.
Network like your income depended on it! That means reaching out to friends, former colleagues, and even former competitors. It means that the time that you spent investing in your company and your reputation will pay dividends.
There are many ways to work with your network. Social networking sites can be either helpful or harmful. LinkedIn helps to maintain professional relationships, keep track of former colleagues as they move from one company to another, and meet professionals with similar group interests. LinkedIn also offers an invaluable tool for sharing endorsements and testimonials. Giving and receiving endorsements with the online utility is a tremendous way to provide an immediate reference, and to demonstrate your own connection with similar respected professionals. It is common to use LinkedIn endorsements as references attached to resumes, making the job of checking references very easy for recruiters and human resource professionals. Giving endorsements is a way to demonstrate your personal connection to a respected peer, and often results in a similar favorable response.
Social networking can be harmful when the social aspect of the online community demonstrates habits or characteristics which may not be desired by potential employers. There are a multitude of incidents in which individuals have lost job opportunities, and lost jobs, as a direct result of pictures and comments posted on social networking sites. While it may be all in good fun to post pictures or comments of friends and family in various embarrassing situations, there are many employers that now use these online references to determine how a potential candidate’s behavior may reflect on the organization. It is a great opportunity for a company to avoid hiring a potentially embarrassing candidate by discovering the embarrassing content that is already available on the world-wide-web. Treat your friends and online social contacts with courtesy and respect, and ask for the same considerations in return.
Variations of Your Theme
Make a variety of versions of your resume. When submitting your resume, make sure that it matches the job opening and contains many of the same keywords. It is a common mistake to work diligently to create the one perceived perfect version of your resume. You may toil for days to get all of the information and details sorted in the manner that you believe are the best representation of your talents and experiences. In reality, the individuals at most companies are not interested in finding the candidate with the most impressive resume, but those hiring individuals are interested in finding the candidate that is best suited to fill the responsibilities of the position. That means that it is far more important for your resume to fit the needs of the position than for your resume to fit your own needs.
Start with a version of your resume and then make several variations on your theme. When preparing to submit your resume for a particular position, read the job description very carefully and highlight the pertinent keywords. Then, review your resume and your real personal experience to identify how those keywords relate to your previous work experience. Try to use those keywords in describing your own achievements, and create a version of your resume that is tailored specifically for the open position. Make sure that you keep a copy of that version of your resume, perhaps even name the document with the name of the company and position for which you wish to interview. When your opportunity to interview arises, be sure to review your customized resume and take a copy with you.
Before the Interview
Before going on an interview, study the company history, mission statement, and culture. Study the company competition. Why are they filing this position? Be prepared to have an intelligent conversation about the company and the position. Be prepared to present your ideas regarding how your experience and capabilities will contribute to achieve the goals of the company. Identify the key strengths from your resume that you think may have caught the attention of the interviewer, and be prepared to discuss them in detail. Prepare questions about the company, culture, and the other people in the area of responsibility. It is not enough to fill the position with your personal attributes and to be the right person for the job, but you must also be the right person to fit in the mix of the other personnel who are already in the organization. Prepare yourself to be that person.
Do It Now
Do something positive for yourself. When you were actively working at your position, there were many things that you probably wished you could do if you only had the time. Guess what, now you have the time! Do you remember how you always wanted to lose weight and get in shape, but you were always too busy to go for a walk or do a little exercise? Do you remember those books that you thought would be good to read, but you never had the peace and quiet to sit down with them? Do you remember how much you wish that you had time to complete that project around the house? Sure, it may be hard to get the energy and enthusiasm to get yourself started on any of those things right now. You have the time, and your excuses are gone, but you don’t feel the desire to start doing them right away. Is that the case with you? What’s wrong with this picture? Go do it, and start today! You will be amazed at how much this simple act of personal courage can change your life. Use the time that you have now to do those things that you always wanted to do, and then when your next career starts to consume your time, you will discover that you can always preserve the time that you need to do these projects. Once you start to exercise, you will always find time for it. Once you start to read or do projects around the house, you will discover that working will not get in the way of doing those things again. This is your chance to make a tremendous change in your life. Don’t miss out on this opportunity.
Do It for Someone Else
Just as you make time to do something for yourself, make time to do something special for someone else. This could be calling an old acquaintance to renew a friendship. This could be contacting a former colleague to offer assistance or encouragement to them during the job hunt and career transition. This could be volunteering to help at a community event, or making a contribution to a special cause. Act as a consultant, volunteer your services, or share your experience with a former colleague. Whenever possible, use your talents, experience, and capabilities to help others. You may be waiting for your next employer to apply your skills, but you can keep them sharp by using them to help other individuals or organization in the interim. Volunteer a portion of your time to apply your skills and in the process everyone is rewarded.
Words of Wisdom
“More than any other time in history, mankind faces a crossroads. One path leads to despair and utter hopelessness. The other, to total extinction. Let us pray we have the wisdom to choose correctly.”
– Woody Allen
“In theory, there is no difference between theory and practice; In practice, there is.”
– Chuck Reid
“If you limit your choices only to what seems possible or reasonable, you disconnect yourself from what you truly want, and all that is left is a compromise.”
– Robert Fritz
John Mehrmann is author of The Trusted Advocate: Accelerate Success with Authenticity and Integrity, the fundamental guide to achieve extraordinary sales and sustain loyal customers. John Mehrmann is a freelance writer and President of Executive Blueprints Inc., an organization devoted to improving business practices and developing human capital. www.ExecutiveBlueprints.com provides resource materials for trainers, sample Case Studies, and educational articles.
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