Wednesday, March 6, 2013


Searching for a job in today’s market is more competitive than ever before.  So what can you do to stand out in today’s very tough job market? How do you differentiate yourself from a crowded field of qualified candidates? What are the things that constitute a great search strategy ?  How do you stay ahead of the game and manage your career?  Here are the Top 10 steps to managing a career, making the right career move and conducting a passive or aggressive search.

1) Have a stand out resume. Update it annually, whether you think you need it or not. Evaluate market conditions, because they play into resume content and how to position yourself  to be a stand out, competitive candidate. 

2) Develop a comprehensive LinkedIn profile.

3) Join 20-40 LinkedIn groups that are at the appropriate level for your next career move. It varies if your goal is entry level, CEO, Consultant, Startup, Turnaround, or International.  A very targeted search and career move can be developed if you are focused appropriately.

4) It’s critical to know how to use LinkedIn most effectively.  For example, one of the most underutilized features is LinkedIn’s “Company Search" feature on LinkedIn. It should be used as a way to get your foot in the door, build your network for down the road and reach out to folks a step or two above your desired organizational level.

5) Create a target list of companies that focuses on a variety of types and sizes of companies. The big players are obvious, but small and medium companies offer a lot of career growth opportunities. A Fortune 500 might be a great fit, but a smaller company could give you  the chance to expand your skill set, wear a couple of hats, or prepare you for a career inside a big company.

6) Create a target list of contacts that includes managers, employees, recruiters and executives.  Remember, recruiters do not work for you. Their clients are the companies that retain them. Be certain your background fits the profile of the candidate the recruiter is placing.

7) Expand your LinkedIn network. Add 25-50 new people to your network per month. Use the LinkedIn company search function to connect with the decision makers in your target company list. A minimum of 88% of employers are using LinkedIn exclusively to find candidates (even at the executive level).

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

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

10) 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 be a very costly mistake.

Many of the 2013 projections are looking much more positive than in the last 18-24 months. There will be some industries and geographic areas that are better than others, and now is a great time to commit to your career and career planning. Things don’t often happen randomly. Granted, some folks get lucky in their searches. But maybe that job you took was just a job and not the best opportunity that was out there. How will you know you've made the best career move if you have not really created a search strategy

Imagine the possibilities if you have a strategy and a comprehensive approach to your job search. Follow these 5 steps to a successful search and stay ahead of the game.

1.) Create a high-impact, competitive resume.
2.) Match LinkedIn profile and summary with resume content.
3.) Join LinkedIn Groups. Max out your 50 free groups.
4.) Use LinkedIn company search function as a way to connect directly with decision makers in the companies of interest.
5.) Reach out to recruiters that are a match for your background.

Remember, until steps 1-3 are complete you should not engage in a search. This is the most competitive job market in decades. Have a winning and competitive strategy and make 2013 your best year yet!

Sue Sarkesian/Elaine Basham
Co-Founders, The Resume Group

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