Monday, January 3, 2011

Job Search Tips for the New Year from Sue Sarkesian, Co-founder of The Resume Group

The holidays are over and we're all back to the realities of our day-to-day. For many, New Year's resolutions include gearing up a new job search, looking to move within the same company, or taking steps to change careers. Here's some realities and tips from Sue Sarkesian, Co-founder of The Resume Group:
Always be prepared. Today’s reality is there are no longer such things as permanent jobs. Competition, mergers, acquisitions, closures, offshoring, etc. have shown us that even the most tenured employee doesn’t have long-term job certainty. All of these factors affect employees regardless of seniority, management/staff level, function or industry.

Even if the company one is working for is solid, generating revenue, growing and productive, it could still mean employees are at risk. Others companies see the success and develop entry in to the same space. This competition challenges market share and creates a crowded sector. The company is then forced to make changes to stay ahead of the game. This can have an impact on every department.

I don’t write this article to present a negative picture. Rather as a wake- up call to say that even when an employee is happily and gainfully employed, they still need to be prepared. Waiting until the picture looks bleak or waiting until a layoff is imminent puts the employee behind in their search by 3-4 months.

Many people believe if they have a resume, a connection with a couple of recruiters, and are casually networking as they always have, then they are prepared. This is false and puts them at risk for a 7-12 month search process.

What are the reasons for this?

1.) Inadequate networks. What used to work in networking is not true in the new marketplace. Reality is that today most folks are also looking out for themselves. So connecting with them is fine, but they may have their own personal agendas. The other truth is that many folks are networking with individuals in similar situations and/or they are not the persons making hiring decisions.

2.) Poor resume. There is nothing that makes the individual stand out in the crowd.

3.) No search plan or a poor search plan.

So what are the things that constitute a great search strategy and staying ahead of the game? Always be involved in a passive search and follow these steps. Unemployed? Be much more aggressive.

1.) Have a stand out resume. Update it annually whether you think you need it or not.

2.) Create a target list of companies. Don’t just focus on the obvious big players. There are many opportunities available in small and medium companies as well. Don’t let ego tell you a Fortune 500 company is where you need to be.

3.) Create a target list of contacts. Managers, employees and executives.

4.) Expand your LinkedIn network. Add 25-50 per month. Use the LinkedIn company search function to connect with the decision makers in your target company list.

5.) Attend networking events, conferences and trade shows - 2 per quarter at a minimum.

6.) Stay in touch with contacts at least 4 times a year.

7.) Stay connected to retained search firms. If unemployed, reach out weekly via email and phone.

These are all things that should be done regardless of employment status. The bottom line is, do not wait until you have concerns to have a plan in place. Always be a step ahead of the game. If you become unemployed it could a very costly mistake.

Many of the 2011 projections are looking much more positive than the last 18-24 months. There will be industries and geographical areas better than others. Make 2011 a year to commit to your career and career planning. Things don’t often happen randomly. Granted, some folks get lucky in their searches. Maybe that job you took was just a job and not the best opportunity that was out there.

But imagine the possibilities if you have a strategy and a comprehensive approach to your job search. Best wishes for the New Year!