12 Ways to Shorten Your Career Transition
No one who has been unemployed expects it to last very long. The reality is that you will be looking for work longer than you want. You can’t control how long the process will take, but there are things you can do to help you take control, make progress, and find a new job sooner. No doubt, these are unusual times. But all the same rules for launching your job search still apply. Here are 12 ways to shorten your career transition:
1. Nail down the basics.
The people you know want to help you – they just don’t know how. The best thing you can do to help them help you — is to provide SIX pieces of very important data:
- Specify and define job titles you are interested in and qualified for?
- Choose your Top 3 (directly and/ or indirectly) related industries?
- Research at least 30 Target Companies – Minimum of 10 companies for each of your Top 3 Industries?
- Develop a great 2-Minute Elevator Pitch. Clearly and concisely communicate your top skills and achievements*. (These are “action=result” bullets* on your resume.)
- Share your list of target companies with your network and most valuable contacts.
- Conduct “Informational Interviews” over the phone – when face to face meetings are not possible? Always be asking for Advice, Information and Referrals to people they know
2. Reach out and call everyone.
If you truly want to shorten your career transition, be strategic in your outreach. This starts by creating a list of everyone you know and systematically contact people on your list to ask for AIR (Advice, Information and Referrals). Note, you are not asking someone if there’s a job available.
Personalize your outreach one email or phone call at a time. Sending out a blanket email won’t generate the type of response you are looking for. Your contacts want to help, but an impersonal plea falls lower on the list of priorities.
3. Get connected.
Volunteering and joining professional associations and networking groups for job seekers is an excellent way to shorten your career transition.
Connecting with unemployed and employed professionals helps you stay active and engaged in what’s happening in your community and in your field of work.
When you volunteer, you are killing two birds with one stone. First, it provides you with a feeling of value and worth to help others. Second, you will be interacting with like-minded volunteers and group leaders who can become networking resources.
4. Connect online.
Before you begin connecting with people on LinkedIn, be sure your profile is up to date. Once you’ve done this, begin connecting with new contacts, as well as past colleagues, friends and others you know.
Your LinkedIn network should represent your real-life network, so start building it. Andn learn how to use LinkedIn to stay in touch with your network, and mine it for valuable data.
5. Polish your resumé and Linkedin profile.
Resume rules have changed since you last updated your document. A resume that stands out will help shorten your career transition, so do your research and consult expert resources. Once you have created a resume that positions you as a fit for the perfect job, begin using it. Be sure to adapt it for every job you apply for.
How do you know if it’s working? If you are applying for jobs, and your phone is ringing off the hook, don’t change a thing. Otherwise, go back to the drawing board. Share it with trusted colleagues and ask for feedback. One word of caution—everyone has an opinion about resumes and the recommendations will sometimes contradict one another.
And, even more important than your resume, is your LinkedIn profile which is visible 24/7. Make sure it is robust and you’re taking advantage of all the features available like indicating you are open to new opportunities in the Career Interests section. And, don’t forget to add your work to the Featured Section.
6. Conduct informational interviews.
An Informational Interview (also known as an Informational conversation) is a meeting in which a potential job seeker seeks advice on their career, the industry, and the corporate culture of a potential future workplace; while an employed professional learns about the job seeker and judges their professional potential and fit to the corporate culture, so building their candidate pool for future hires.
Informational interviews are meetings that you request to gather information and expand your network of contacts. What kind of information? The information you need to choose or refine a career path, learn how to break in and find out if you have what it takes to succeed.
It’s the process of spending time (usually about 20-30 minutes, but sometimes much longer) with someone at a more advanced level in their career in a highly focused conversation that provides you with key information you need to shorten your career transition and launch or boost your career.
NOTE: While one out of every 200 resumes (some studies put the number as high as 1,500 resumes) results in a job offer, one out of every 12 informational interviews results in a job offer.
7. Plan B is the new Plan A.
Don’t wait until your unemployment or severance runs out to begin creating a backup plan. If you want to shorten your career transition, you need to start today.
Ask yourself what you could do when you are one month away from the end of your unemployment? How will you generate income? Will you take a temp job or work in retail? Would you be willing to take a job outside your current city? Or would you consider starting your own business?
It is never too early to begin actively pursuing your Plan B options.
8. Find someone to hold you accountable.
You will become discouraged – that is just part of the process. You will need the support of someone who can give you a kick in the pants and who will listen to you objectively.
Of all the actions you take while unemployed, this may be the most important. When you identify and use an accountability partner, you feel rejuvenated and regain your momentum. You also have an external source of motivation and a fresh perspective to draw from.
9. Keep an open mind.
This isn’t the same as being open to any opportunities. You should stay focused on the type of job you want. Keeping an open mind means you listen without judgment and don’t make assumptions.
If a past colleague presents you with a job opportunity you don’t think is a fit, don’t shut them down. Ask questions and understand why they are making this recommendation. Likewise, if someone you know suggests you should speak with one a contact, ask why and how you both would benefit from meeting.
10. Create a sense of urgency.
Each day you are unemployed, it becomes more difficult to feel secure in your abilities so it’s urgent to do all that you can to shorten your career transition.
Rejection and dead ends have a way of eroding your self-confidence. The best cure for these feelings is to do something that makes you feel productive and successful. Focus on the small wins, such as getting an email response, finding a contact name inside a company you want to work for and attending a networking meeting.
11. Take care of yourself.
As the flight attendants say, “Put your oxygen mask on first so you can better assist those around you.” This means you should eat well, exercise and spend time doing the things you enjoy.
This also means investing in your skills. Do you have everything you need to be marketable?
One of the best things you can do while unemployed is to take online courses or classes to build new skills.
12. Remember to follow up.
The list of things to do while job searching is endless. You need to develop relationships with recruiters, find the right job boards for the type of work you are looking for, write solid cover letters and thank-you notes, master the art of small talk and thousands of other things that will push you outside your comfort zone—and get in the right mindset. Least of which is conducting constant follow up!
Mark James, CPC is the President of Hire Consulting Services, established in 1999. He is a Certified Personnel Consultant and has been providing executive career transition coaching and executive recruiting services for over 25 years. Mark is also a Certified Partner with Predictive Index Behavior Assessments focused on talent selection and leadership development.