Job Search

I’ve suddenly got a lot of friends and acquaintances from across the years, jobs, and geographies all looking for a new job right now. I’ve reached some of you individually, but I’ve missed others, so I’m turning to this efficient method to pass along some job search tips which have helped me and others over the years.

The first couple are pretty basic:  you need a modern resume, and a professional LinkedIn profile and picture. After 30 years of the same, plain old formats, resumes have evolved. The Internet is full of free resume forms, or shoot me a note, and I’ll send you one. Once they get your resume, LinkedIn is now the very next place recruiters go; studies show that people without a professional photo don’t get a second look. And you can scan others’ profiles to get ideas.

I also love The Muse, a job search website where you can subscribe to a daily article on leadership development and job search tips. A great exercise that I found there to prepare for interviews is developing your “connecting theme.” This simple sentence or two, though perhaps not so simple to come up with, allows you to frame who you are quickly and memorably. It boils down the intersection of what you’re great at and what you love, and which has flowed through all of your jobs. This is a vivid way to bring who you are to life to a hiring manager and help them assess your fit. I’ll share my example to bring the concept to life:  “I’m a builder–I build teams, I build processes and controls, and I help build businesses.” Follow your connecting theme (your “what”) with your elevator speech of key strengths (your “how”), and you’ll help shape your message and drive what the interviewer takes away from their discussion with you.

Interviews are high-stress, high-stakes events that most of us are out of practice on most of the time. Since I struggle under pressure to remember practiced answers for those popular behavioral question (“Tell me about a time when you…”), I no longer try. Instead, I well rehearse three examples of work that I’m proud of, and then match them to the questions I’m asked. I can easily remember three accomplishments (I was there, after all), and I choose them carefully to highlight my key strengths. But the best part of talking about things that we’re proud of is that when we do, our body language is magic. This tip may be the single best one that I have to share and has worked wonders for me and my friends.

Finally, I read something recently that said we should carry ourselves with “purpose”, that doing so is not overconfidence, but just that…purpose. I think most of us want to have a sense of purpose. Taking that approach into an interview makes a lot of sense to me. Good luck everyone, and let me know if I can help!

Great addendum from a friend who just landed awesomely from a layoff:

Be sure to leverage your network, even the thinnest of threads…you never know what can happen. And being laid off can be one of the best things to ever happen to you:  it’s your chance to remake your life into what you want it to be.  Go for your dreams!

“The most beautiful thing you can wear is confidence.”  –Blake Lively


About Kelly J. McCleary

Wife and mother of three, author, financial professional View all posts by Kelly J. McCleary

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