At some stage in your career, you will almost certainly be looking for a new job. This may be because you’re not truly satisfied in your current job or simply because you’re unemployed.
I haven’t met many people who say that they enjoy the job search process. This is unfortunate, because the search for a new job should be all about renewal, progress and self-growth.
Common Traits for Success
There are job searchers who take a long time to secure a new job and those who manage to find a new job quite quickly and without too much effort or stress. If you look at the typical character traits of successful job seekers, there tends to be a common theme amongst the way they handle themselves and their search.
Self-awareness. This is the ability to assess your strengths and weaknesses with honesty and objectivity. You understand the impact you have on other people and tailor your approach according to each situation. You are also willing to experience the emotional reactions towards you for being without a job.
Receptivity. You are willing to accept support from others and are open to learning and change.
Commercial acumen. You have the ability to take a business-oriented approach, viewing yourself as a product, understanding the potential employer’s business objectives, and marketing yourself appropriately.
Focus. You have the ability to concentrate on clearly defined goals and you are proactive, committed to success and well-organised.
Positive attitude. You have the ability to maintain your self-belief and you strive to achieve the desired result.
Resourcefulness. You have the ability to identify and leverage necessary information, people and other resources.
Ask yourself, and perhaps those close to you, how many of these traits you possess and what you might need to do to develop them further. You may even be able to help someone else develop these traits.
It continues to amaze me how narrowly some people structure their job search. There are those who answer job ads that they see in the newspaper or on Internet job sites. There are those who send their CV to employment agencies and wait to receive a call.
Most people actually find their new job by networking with friends, family and ex-colleagues. Employers like nothing better than to hire new staff that their own employees have recommended.
Networking is such an important job search method, but many jobseekers don’t employ it because they are reluctant to ask the people closest to them for help. Asking for a referral takes a certain level of self-confidence and courage, and many people have a natural reluctance to make such a request.
You can also network at industry events with people you have never met. There are various industry events you should consider attending, where you can meet other attendees, give them your business card and make a positive impression. These events include:
- Chamber of Commerce
- Industry Seminars
- Professional associations, e.g., CPA
- Job fairs
Many job seekers seem to think that the only way they can gain direct access to employers is either by replying to a job advertisement or applying through an employment agency. This couldn’t be further from the truth.
Once you have done your homework and compiled a list of companies you’d be interested in working for, you should then make every effort to find out who the appropriate contact is at each company, and send your CV directly.
If you can email it, great. If you can’t, then post it.
From my experience, you can benefit further by trying to reach the contact by phone first. You can sell yourself a little, and then follow up with your CV. Better still, you may manage to secure an interview over the phone and you can then simply take your CV along with you to the meeting.
Even if the meeting is simply an information sharing session, it is still the perfect opportunity for you to ‘sow the seeds’ so you’ll be considered when the next opportunity arises.
To be honest, I have found that job seekers have had the most luck with the direct approach when they contacted the functional line manager rather than the Human Resources Department.
Classified Ads (Print and Online)
This is the most obvious approach undertaken by job seekers. Responding to job adverts in newspapers and magazines is extremely popular, but in the technology age, this approach should be complemented by searching through online job ads.
There are many such online job sites such as monster.com, which frequently post new jobs that may be relevant to you. [Editor’s note: CFO Innovation has a dedicated jobs newsletter that is sent out to subscribers three times a month; its website and regular newsletter also contain a jobs section.]
On many of these sites, you can build a profile of the kind of job you’re looking for. As long as you provide your email address, these sites will send you relevant job ads as they appear on the site.
The other great benefit of these sites is that they tend to keep advertising jobs until these are filled, so you can apply for positions that have been posted two day ago, two weeks ago or even two months ago. You don’t have this luxury with newspaper adverts.
A lot of job seekers register their CV with at least one recruitment firm. This most often takes the form of an application to an advertised job.
However, there is no reason for you not to proactively register your CV with a number of reputable recruitment firms on a general basis and asking the recruiter to keep you on their radar for potential opportunities as they arise.
Recruitment firms can help you negotiate with the potential employer, in the same way that a real estate agent acts as a middleman between a seller and a buyer or tenant. Good recruiters know they market and can open a wider ranger of options for you than you could have generated on your own.
When a recruiter takes an interest in you, they will want to help you to be your best. They may provide advice on how to improve your CV, your interview technique, networking skills, etc. This advice is nearly always free, as the recruiter is ultimately compensated for filling the job.
If you’re busy in your current job, it is difficult to focus on an active job search. Researching companies, looking at job advertisements, approaching potential employers – these activities take time and focus, so it can be of great benefit to let a trusted recruiter to do them for you.
You have to be careful, however. Whilst this is not a common problem in the recruitment industry, there are some consultants who may list a new job to fill, and after finding a number of potential candidates in their database, they forward those names to the employer – without getting the candidate’s permission first.
This puts the candidate at considerable risk, especially if it’s a company they do not wish their name to be disclosed to.
There are other recruiters who may actually call you to get permission to send your CV to the employer, but they won’t tell you who the employer is. It’s up to you on this one, but personally I would never allow my CV to be sent to a company unless I knew who that company was. Once your confidentiality is compromised, you could be in a vulnerable position.
The key to an effective job search is to keep your ear to the ground and maintain momentum. Stay in the traffic, but take the time to step back to the kerb once in a while to reassess your direction.
Your challenge is to avoid the traffic congestion and find the less travelled route to your destination.
About the Author
Brian Moore is an experienced CFO recruitment and career management expert who heads his own firm, Brian Moore International. This article is an edited version of one chapter in his book, Career Management Toolkit.