The Best and Worst Ways to Look for a Job During the Pandemic
Job-hunting in today’s world is no longer an optional activity, but a survival skill. The candidate who gets hired in our digital age isn’t necessarily the one who can do the job best, but the one who knows the most about how to get hired.
There are two ways that you can go about the job search or a career pivot. There is the method that most people tell us we should use because it’s the way that job searches have always been done, which we can call the traditional approach. You begin with the so-called job market, and then you look at postings that seem the slightest bit interesting to you, submit your resume and wait to see if you get a response. This traditional approach puts you at the whim of the job market and often doesn’t inspire any leads, just increased frustration. Research shows that 70% of jobs are not published publicly and as much as 80% of vacancies are filled through referrals, further underscoring the ineffectiveness of this job search method.
Fortunately, if the traditional approach hasn’t worked for you, there is an alternate strategy that you can use, which we can call the diamond approach. This method puts you at the center of your search, while allowing you to figure out who you are, and among all your gifts, which ones you love to use. Like a diamond, this self-inventory process allows you to see yourself in various lights with many facets, not just by your current or previous job titles, but instead as someone who has unique skills and experiences. By doing this homework, you learn ways to describe what you are looking for and how you would be an asset to a potential employer, which is language that will not only elevate your candidacy, but could also potentially allow you to create an opportunity for yourself within your field of interest.
Here are a few steps that you can take to put this diamond approach into practice:
1. Self-assess: It is important to take a step back to ask yourself “Who am I?” outside of your current job title/academic field. You can find clues about your traits using popular tests such as MBTI (the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator), O*NET Interests Profiler (a free survey put out by the U.S. Department of Labor), otherwise if you are a student, your college/university should also have other free assessments that you can use.
2. Synthesize: Brain researchers have discovered that when making any kind of decision about your life, the most effective strategy is to condense all that you know about yourself onto one piece of paper. Write down your three favorite knowledge areas (thinking of both your personal and professional life) and five favorite skill sets and show this piece of paper to your family and friends. Ask them what jobs or work they suggest. What career fields do these qualities point to? What job titles come to mind for them? See if they know anyone who might be able to help. Jot down all that is shared with you and use this insight to develop your personal pitch, while updating your resume and LinkedIn profile to include your findings.
3. Scale your network: Leverage your own connections through friends, family and/or LinkedIn to share with others that you are looking to see where the best professional fits might lie. Use your network to find valuable second-degree connections or “bridge-people” to help you narrow your options.
Type the knowledge areas and job titles that your friends and family shared with you into the LinkedIn search bar and reach out to those second-degree or third-degree connections with a note such as “Hello (their name), I’m looking to build a community of professionals in (your knowledge area) field in the (your geographic location) area. It’s nice to meet you!” Sometimes, these initial notes can lead to other important connections or conversations.
If you think a certain contact would be a valuable person for you to speak with, then research their background, introduce yourself (with your pitch), and see if they would be willing to jump on a brief call with you so that you can learn more. Never ask for a job directly in this initial note; it is important that you build a rapport with these types of contacts first. In these conversations, consider asking questions like “What do you like/dislike about your job/field?” or “Given my skills and interests, are there certain organizations that come to mind?” or “Where else can I find people who do this work?” and if the conversation goes well, “Might you know of anyone else in your network who would be helpful for me to speak with about my interests?” Remember: it is important to write a thank you note 24-48 hours after your call with any contact. These conversations can sometimes lead to interviews, but at the very least, they help you narrow down the job titles and kinds of companies/organizations that would best fit you in the long run.
You’d be surprised how you can find your dream job just by taking this diamond approach with some simple reflection and relationship building. I encourage you to get as close as you can to this dream and be patient, as you never know what opportunities might come your way.