Why do we spend more time preparing for a water landing than a job search?
Posted by Molly Wendell // in Job SearchNetworking
Every time I get on an airplane (which is quite frequently these days), the flight attendants go through the same emergency drill. Not once have I had to open the emergency exit door, but I’ve had more instructions on what to do in the event of a water landing than most people have had in practicing their own job search drill. And guess which one happens more frequently?
Embarking on a job search is not something you do every day. It’s not something you expect to do frequently. And it’s certainly not something you think to (or want to?) become an expert in. But chances are really good that in today’s environment, you can expect to embark on multiple job searches over the course of your career…regardless of age.
This is probably not new news. How is it, then, that I meet so many people who have no clue how to go about looking for a job? It’s as though they thought they were immune. They thought people would just call them up and offer them new positions. Maybe it was like that in the past, but it’s just not that way anymore.
I listen to people in job search meetings speak of their great accomplishments. Then, when it comes to their job search – they’re “just in the early stages – so they’re not quite focused yet.” Is that how they prepared for a big meeting when they were working?
Well, I’m here to tell you right now, chances are good that if you’re not currently in the search, you will be at one point in your life. So why don’t you take a little time and start mapping out a plan for your job search. Here are some basic things to think about:
Position/Job Desired. What do you want to do? I mean what do you REALLY want to do? Not what have you done for the last 30 years. What do you want to do for next 5-10 (or even 1-3) years? Help us help you by giving us some focus on what you want to do.
Industry. Which industries do you want to work in? What are the attributes of these industries – and what are some other industries that share these characteristics? Maybe that will lead you to some new ideas. And don’t say that your skills are transferable, so industry doesn’t really matter. That’s just a copout for not doing your homework.
Company Size. Are you a large company person, a startup player or maybe focused on medium sized companies. And if so, what is a medium sized company to you? Is it $100 Million or anything under $1Billion? You need to think hard about the type of organization in which you excel. Think about the environment in which you enjoy working. Is it global, national or local? Centralized or decentralized? Branch/multiple locations or do you prefer working in the corporate office? Set some parameters to help weed out some companies and bring others to the surface.
Location. There’s a direct correlation between length of time in the job search – and geographic target. The longer you’re in the search, the more the geographic scope increases. It is not uncommon to have a corporate role that’s not housed at the corporate office (this is especially true for those roles where you’ll travel a lot). Be open to opportunities in other cities. You never know who you might meet on the plane on the way over and back. I remember interviewing in Philadelphia for a position. In the interview, I was told that the company had two positions that might be interesting for me. One in Philly and the other in Scottsdale, AZ (three traffic lights from my house). Had I not been open to relocating, I would’ve never known about the opportunity in my backyard. I ended up getting a lead from the guy sitting next to me on the plane, and that’s ultimately how I found my next job.
Target Companies. Telling people that you’re open to any company – you just want to work in a growing industry, for a company that treats its employees above and beyond. Well, it’s really hard to help you here. As my 6th grade teacher used to tell me “To be specific is terrific. To be vague is the plague.” Think about who you would like to work for. What do those companies look like, but more importantly, what are the names of those companies? Again, don’t be lazy and unprepared. Don’t make us figure out where you want to work.
Now, you might be saying “But really I’m open to opportunities and I don’t want to limit myself.” The only way you’re going to limit yourself is by not being prepared. Because the more targeted and prepared you are to give others a frame of reference in which to think, the more they can come up with additional ideas for you.
So quit acting like your job search is going to sneak up on you. Start preparing for it right now. Go through your own job search drill. And practice. Practice. Practice. It will get you that much closer to a successful landing.