A newly hired job seeker shares what worked and didn’t on his way to landing the job

be strategic in your job search, improving your job search, advice from a new hire,
Are you taking the right steps in your
job search?
A guest post by David Fulton

After a job search of nearly 18 months, I recently started a new position. During my search, I interacted with many other people. 

Here are lessons I learned from what I and others did and didn't do. Perhaps these tips will help you improve (or shorten) your job search.


1) Do the work.
No one will come to your house, beat down your door, and force you to take a job. Work your job search continuously and consistently. I used an Excel-based job log to record my activities. It generated statistics which told me how many networking events I did, how many jobs I applied for, how many interviews I went on, etc. on a month by month basis. Do the same so you will know if you applied for 20 positions in June, but only 3 in July – you need to get your butt in gear and do more in August.

Download a "Get a Job!" Job Leads Chart and other printable resources

2) You will have bad days.
I'm usually pretty upbeat, but I still had days where I didn't want to look for a job. The best solution (for me) was to get out of the house and listen to someone else who was looking for a job. If they were doing worse than me, I felt renewed confidence. If they were doing better than me, I felt renewed determination and motivation. I didn't complain about my situation because nobody wants to hear that. However, sometimes I could encourage or help someone else, which made me feel good and made it easier for me to get back to my job search.

3) Don't whine.
Don’t talk about how bad your last boss was, etc. Nobody wants to hear it. They want to know that you are doing your part to find a job and that you are in a good mental state -- otherwise, they will not feel comfortable connecting you with someone and will certainly not recommend you to a hiring manager. They need to protect their reputation.

4) Buy quality business cards.
Your business cards are a reflection of you, so make a good impression. Cards that have advertising on the back (from Vistaprint, etc.) or where you have marked-up ones left over from your last job make you look cheap. Don’t risk a $100K/year position (or whatever you want to make) for $20! Also, make sure your cards are descriptive enough, without being too restrictive.

For example, I originally had cards that said "Director of Product Management." However, I applied for a Sr. Product Management position and exchanged cards with the hiring manager (who was a Director of Product Management). He felt I was over-qualified for the job so I didn't make it very far. I can't help but wonder how much the title of my card influenced his decision.

And while I'm on this subject -- don't clutter your business card with all the wonderful things you are capable of doing. That goes on your resume. Remember your "real" business cards from your last employer and how concise, simple, and "clean" they were? Order something similar. And besides, the more you put on your business card, the greater the chance your card will include something a potential employer may not like.

Additional business card guidance

5) Have a professional e-mail address.
It may be fun to exchange e-mails with friends when your address is "funlover12345@someplace.com", but that type of address doesn’t make you sound professional. Get an email account close to your name so it doesn't cause a potential employer to ask questions. After all, you want them to focus on your professional qualifications and not on why your spouse thought "bestlover" was appropriate for you.

Additional e-mail address guidance

6) Buy the book "How to make people like you in 90 seconds."
Read it. Study it again and again. I had several situations where a potential job disappeared because I didn't connect with the hiring manager. After I read the book, I understood why. If I had only read this book before, I could have been hired months earlier.

7) Buy Diane Darling's book "Networking for Career Success."
Read it. Study it. It costs about $8 through Amazon. I WISH I had read it months ago.

8) Join a local networking group and contribute in POSITIVE ways.
I read dozens of articles each day about networking, effective job searching, etc. Most said the same things, but they helped me remember what I should do. I shared this information with my local networking group early on -- hoping it would help others. The result is that it is now MUCH easier for me to connect with group members. If you never say a word (to other networking group members), they will not know you exist -- and will be unable to help you. Also don’t whine in person or in group messaging. People WILL remember you in a negative way --and will be less likely to want to help you.

9) Make it easy for others to help you
If you tell me you're looking for a position as a C# programmer for a financial services company in downtown Boston -- this is pretty simple for me to understand, write on your business card, and remember. If you tell me your last job stunk, your boss was a jerk, and you want to do something to save the planet -- I will have NO IDEA how to help you, so I will be polite, say goodbye, and promptly forget about you. Provide people with clear information.

10) Create a strong online identity.
Here are specific suggestions:

- Make sure your LinkedIn profile is complete and includes a good, professional picture.

- Update your LinkedIn status weekly -- ideally on Sunday -- because many emails that talk about "changes in your network" are generated by Linkedin on Monday morning (very early).

- List quantifiable accomplishments and power words. Nobody cares if you were "responsible" for something … maybe you are unemployed because you weren’t responsible enough!

Quantifiable accomplishments and power word guidance

- Post your resume to many job boards -- and refresh it every two weeks so people can find you. Recruiters (and hiring managers) search job boards for suitable candidates -- and if your resume is 30 days or older – your resume won't show up.

- Get a Twitter account and "tweet” about things that will be interesting to other professionals. Nobody cares if you tried the latest latte, but they DO care if you just found out about an interesting free seminar on some aspect of your profession -- because they may want to attend.

- Link your Twitter account to your LinkedIn profile so your tweets convey you are professional and busy.

- Subscribe to e-mail newsletters relevant to your profession -- to stay current and to have something to tweet about.

- Join several professional groups on LinkedIn and PARTICIPATE in a professional manner in the discussions. I've met many people online in this way -- including some who had job opportunities.

- Don't confuse your personal online life (Facebook) with your professional online life (LinkedIn). Connect to your friends and family members using Facebook and your professional associates using LinkedIn. Your friends may say things on Facebook that you don't want potential employers to see, so don't encourage employers to look at your Facebook profile. But also, don't post ANYTHING on Facebook that could cause a prospective employer concern. For example, it is NOT the place to announce liberal views if you are interviewing at a conservative company.

Additional guidance from David Fulton
Improving your online presence
Creating a basic online identity
Creating an advanced online identity

11) Get involved with local professional groups and organizations.
Join at least three to four groups relevant to your profession and attend their meetings. Volunteer to meet group organizers. Let them get to know you. You will begin to see the same people again and again -- which makes it easier to get to know them.

12) Don't send electronic messages when you are angry, sad, or depressed. Anything you say electronically will exist forever. If you must rant about your last lousy boss -- write it using Word, print it, delete the Word file, and then put the printout in the shredder. Thus, you have "vented" your frustration without damaging your job search. Then move on.

13) Prepare for interviews as if the job depended on it … because it does.
I forget how many times I was asked in an interview, "What do you know about our company?" Be prepared for this question by developing a brief summary of what you think they do. It's OK to say something like "from what I can tell, you are currently focused on ..."

14) Practice answers to potential interview questions
You will be nervous on interviews, however being prepared builds your confidence. Be ready to answer questions like, "Why did you leave your last job?" Don't memorize everything -- you will sound like a robot -- but do have a good outline of what you plan to say to common questions.

I wrote answers to many standard questions and then read them out loud to see if they sounded right to me. If I didn't like how they sounded, I revised my answers. Then before any interview (even a phone screen), I would review my answers so they were fresh in my mind.

15) Answer the question, then SHUT UP.
Many times, "more" is not better ... it is only "more." And often, the more you say, the more concerned the interviewer gets that you are hiding something or are nervous about the topic. Brooks babble. You shouldn't.

16) Join a buddy group.
Initially, I was very skeptical about buddy groups. I figured I was a smart guy and worked hard … why did I need a buddy group? However, you learn a lot from others, especially others in the same profession. They encourage you, help you to improve, etc. And even if you wind up applying for the same job as them, you may learn something about the interview process or how to help them with their job search. The hiring manager who loved you may hate one of your buddies (or vice versa) because chemistry is an important element of a job.

17) Tolerate the spam
Yes, you will get email from shady sounding companies that have no idea what you do, want you to move to Alaska for a three-month contract that pays $20/hour, sell insurance, etc. It takes 10 seconds to press the Delete key in your email client. It takes 2-3 minutes to send a nasty reply, which others will remember (much to your dismay). As the (modified) saying goes -- "Sometimes you have to tolerate a fair amount of spam to get the one e-mail about a great job."

That's all for now -- I'm going to take my own advice and stop.

Best wishes in your job search.
-dave-
David Fulton

David Fulton is a product, project and marketing manager with extensive experience with enterprise applications focused on the management and sharing of information. He can be reached through his web site at http://fultonsventures.com/ or his Twitter account http://twitter.com/davidefulton.
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