Does your job search feel like a construction zone?
Job searches are difficult under the best circumstances. When you are returning to work after a hiatus, you might feel like you should be wearing a hard hat to fend off all the questions about your work gap. Your confidence can take a real beating.
Here are 10 tactics you can use to get your job search mojo working.
Take a good look at your resume. If it’s well written, you should feel more confident every time you look at it because it contains the best of your professional accomplishments. (If you don’t feel it, email me. We’ll up the confidence quotient in short order.)
- Choose your target companies carefully. Do your homework on each employer. Do they have a history of hiring and promoting women? Use Glassdoor.com and LinkedIn.com to find current and former employees in your age group. Ask them what it’s like to work there. Did they face bias when returning to work after any of the “gap times” such as maternity leave, the last first grader, or recovery? (For explanations of these stages, please read Women returning to work: The Reasons.)
Don’t just click the apply button. Yes, if you find the perfect job at the perfect company, of course you can apply for it. Just don’t count on landing the job that way. Applying online puts you in direct competition with hundreds and sometimes thousands of other candidates. You have only about a 10% chance of getting the job when you click the apply button.
Get ahead of the game. Instead of applying online for a job that’s already posted, aim at positions that are still in the talking stage. Get in the contest before anyone else, and you up your chances at the position by about 70%. Do informational interviews with leaders at your target companies to find out what they need in terms of employees with your skills.
Improve your odds with networking. Having trouble getting the attention of a company president? Network your way to the top. Use LinkedIn.com to find people in your network who know the president. Ask for an introduction. (Don’t feel the love from your LinkedIn profile? Email me. When I write your profile, you receive a 30-page e-book of instructions on building a profile that gets found by the right people.)
Don’t apologize for your work gap. Whether it was by choice or by fate, it happened. You’re human. Move on. Practice a brief explanation that quickly directs the conversation to the purpose of your visit, to gain information about the company and industry you’re investigating.
Practice your interview skills. If asked about your absence from the workforce, use the same brief explanation of your work gap and move the conversation to your fit for the position. Use the opportunity to list work-related education, volunteering, or consultation you did during your time away from work. If you land interviews but not jobs, email me about my Interview Preparation Coaching Program to turn it around.
Negotiate your salary. Of course you’re grateful to receive a job offer! You’ve likely been worried about getting back into the industry. Just don’t let your gratitude get in the way of your power position in negotiations. Know the least you will accept in salary and don’t go below that number. Consider the entire compensation package in your negotiation strategy. If you’re asked to concede something, ask for something else. If you’re unclear about how to figure out what to ask for in salary negotiations, email me for information on my NegoSHEations Coaching for women.
Get your job and salary offer in writing. At budget time for some companies, all bets are off. Having my salary offer in writing saved me from a salary cut at one job when the big guy decided the new kid could take one for the team.
Plan your first 100 days. CEOs often use this strategy to accomplish something in their first quarter with a company. It sets the forward momentum and says you’re here to get the job done. Pick something achievable rather than big and flashy. Establish yourself as reliable, approachable, and positive. That wears well for the long term.
If reading about this process has made you feel more confused and hopeless, email me. We’ll figure it out together, and I’ll be there every step of the way for you. Job hunting can seem like a construction zone full of barriers and speed traps. Let me guide you through the orange cones and get you back up to full speed on the career highway.
Photo credit: Sarah