The other day I had a fun conversation with a friend who had just landed a great job. But our conversations prior hadn’t always been fun.
You see, he was pretty typical of many job seekers. His job search had taken quite a while. In fact, he had no idea how hard it would be to find a job. To him, it seemed like a lifetime.
So I asked him: “If you could start your job search all over again, what would you do differently?”
Here are his two answers:
1. I Would Start Sooner
No matter the market conditions, you simply can’t assume anything. You have to get started right away.
As much as you’d like to believe those first three months don’t matter, they do. Because it takes some time to get the ball rolling with your network. Everyone you know (or think knows you) will have to be individually pulled out of their chairs to help you. And some won’t be that interested in getting up.
Those job seekers who take the first three months to travel Europe or remain in their after-graduation flow might be fine. But what I hear from too many is that they were definitely not fine. Because once they got past 6 months without an offer, the heart starts to beat a little faster.
And confidence starts to waver just a bit. Or a lot.
2. I Would Focus On What I Really Wanted
My friend’s other learning was around his ideal job. And while you can’t always pick “ideal” and blindly follow it, his experience was different.
He spent 3 months (months 6-9) pursuing a “sure thing”. This was a job with a much smaller company than he’d ever been with and one with an uncertain future. It would have required a move to a small town. He’d now be a very big fish in a very small pond.
Even though it wasn’t right for him, he pursued it aggressively. And, as the days went on, the lack of an offer for this wrong job brought him down. They just kept delaying him. Stalling became the norm.
To make things worse, this was the only potential offer he had. So you can imagine was constantly on the phone and on email pressing the buttons of decision makers. And because it felt like a “sure thing”, he stopped pursuing other opportunities. And when that job never materialized… he had nothing.
So, in “a bird in the hand” strategy, pursue jobs that aren’t necessarily a great fit. Feel good knowing you have a back-up plan. But always make sure at least half your time is spent looking for – and networking for – your ideal job.
This far into your job search, what are your lessons learned? What would you have done differently? Please share in the comments below!
About the Author: Tim Tyrell-Smith is a career, marketing, branding and strategy coach focusing on small business, non-profits and individuals. A veteran executive in consumer marketing, Tim spent 23 years growing premium brands including Nestle Quik, Mauna Loa Macadamias and Meguiar’s Car Wax. Follow Tim on Twitter!