Dear Coach Joan: Career Advice
I see a definite pattern. Having coached hundreds of job searching clients for the last 10+ years I’ve observed a very distinct pattern. I’d like to make you aware of it because it could be preventing you from getting to your next great employment situation.
When you make the decision to look for a new job you typically go through a process of deciding what kind of job and industry you are looking for. Then you develop your positioning and key capabilities, write your resume and Linkedin profile. You also try to get some good written recommendations and ask people to serve as references. Fine.
Next, you search the appropriate online job listings, contact recruiters, friends, colleagues, former managers, and even family members to see if they have any connections for you. Check. And you meet with everyone you can to let them know your interests and capabilities. And you follow up with everyone.
You typically go full steam ahead for about three months, sometimes four or five months. You have been actively planting seeds and making connections. And you never know when a contact will lead to a concrete job lead and finally the right new job for you.
By 3-6 months you’ve often had a few interviews. And if you get hired within that first 3-6 months, terrific. But it often can take longer, especially if you are 10+ years or more into your career. The higher a position and larger the salary and responsibility level, the longer it typically takes to secure a new job. The rule of thumb is one month for every $10k in income. That means that if you earn $60k it can take 6 months to find a new job.
But it is at about the six month point that I see folks lose steam. They get down on themselves and sometimes even depressed.
That is when the initial excitement and hopefulness wears off and disappointment kicks in. This is when you’ve often had a few promising situations and you might have even come in second place. But in the job search arena, when you’re the runner up, I call that the red-ribbon candidate and as you know, as the runner-up you leave empty handed.
And that is precisely when you need to re-fuel. You need to find a way to keep yourself fresh, motivated and focused. Think of the runner in the course of their marathon. They periodically need to stop at fueling stations. You do, too! That is when you need to review all of your past accomplishments, re-read all of the recommendations that have been written about you and actually practice discussing your key skills and capabilities. Yes, practice them aloud and say them with conviction. Persevere!!
Many of us are naturally more sprint-players, we like to do things in a focused and quick way.
But when it comes to the job search we need to change modes. We need to get ourselves ready for the long haul.
In some cases I’ve seen it take up to 12-18 full months to secure a new job.
Does that mean you sit on the sidelines and just wait?
Most people cannot afford to do that; both financially and emotionally.
If you are currently employed and looking for a new job at least you have your daily work and your regular paycheck.
But if you are unemployed I suggest that you find a way to get contract work, even a low level part time job, or if money is not an issue, do regular volunteer work to keep yourself involved, with some daily structure and weekly ‘anchor points’. You need to keep yourself fueled for the long race. For some people that means a regular exercise program, a focus on healthy eating, regular sleeping hours, enough socializing, etc. Do what you need to do to stay in top form!
But please, be aware that most people start to lose steam after the 3-6 month point in the job search.
And if you’ve been doing the search correctly and planting a lot of seeds, it is often in the 6-12 month period that those seeds start to blossom.
Keep the faith, the seeds you plant will come to fruition, but they can often take time.
I’ve never seen a serious job seeker, who was doing all the right things NOT get a job after that 12 month period.
Remember, it is a numbers game and it is a marathon and not a sprint. Please keep well- fueled and ready!
Onward to bringing the BEST of you to work!