Job Seeker's Guide

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The job search is usually frustrating, tiring and can leave you feeling angry, dejected and overwhelmed. Sometimes it might feel like all of the applications you’ve filled in and all resumes you’ve sent out must be gathering dust in some dark room somewhere. If you’ve reached this level of disenchantment, we’ve got some good news: it’s time to give up. Not the search, but your old strategy, which has only been delivering the same dissatisfying results. If you’re completely fed up with the hunt, then let's start fresh from the ground up.

The first thing we need to figure out is simple. Who are you? We don’t need to know who you are in a profound, cosmic or spiritual sense, but we do need to know who you are when you go to work. As you read through the following sections, think honestly about not only the qualities you’ve exhibited in your professional life, but also what those qualities have allowed you to accomplish on the job. Hiring authorities know that the best barometer of a candidate's future success is based on their past success. Especially in today's economy, they most typically want someone who's done what they need, not someone who thinks they could do it. As you review the upcoming sections, know that there are no wrong answers, just indicators that will point you in the direction of the job that is the best fit for you. 

Taking Stock/Turning Inward

You might have heard of Root Cause Analysis (RCA) but probably never considered doing it on yourself. If you haven’t heard of it before, RCA is based on examining our problems and patterns for their underlying causes, the root of the problem so to speak. Before going outward to find your next job, first turn inward and have the kind of discussion with yourself that focuses on your values, purpose and interests. Need help? Let Google be your guide here as you use these search strings (or variations of them): "assessing personal values," "assessing purpose," "assessing interests." Values and purpose speak to deeper guiding principles in life while interests bubble more to the surface. It helps to identify interests by looking back on your career and considering what interested you and disinterested you in prior jobs. 

Idendifying Accomplishments

What your next employer will want to hear from you is what you accomplished in your most recent job. Think action verbs. What did you enhance, optimize, minimize, maximize, increase, decrease and so forth. How you accentuate your accomplishments will depend on what a particular job requires, but be sure you can cite specifics. Being able to show what you achieved in this way could well be the reason why you were hired instead of someone else. Always return to what we'll call "I and the data." In the job search process, don't refer so much to my group, our team or the department. Refer to yourself. What I did. Moreover, try to quantify your accomplishment by some metric…dollar value, number of times, the percentage… because it makes your achievement more concrete.

Honing Your Elevator Pitch

As will be mentioned elsewhere in this guide, count on having to answer a question similar to "tell us about yourself." Your answer to this is called your elevator pitch, and while it may not make you, it could certainly break you should you botch it in an interview situation or networking event. The elevator pitch originated from the world of sales where reps were counseled that, should they be in the elevator with a prospect, they have a canned presentation of their product or service ready to deliver during the ride. As a job seeker, you need the same 60-90 second summation of who you are and what you do. Its length is important; it should be neither so short that it reveals nothing and almost raises suspicions about you because of its brevity, nor so long that you see someone's eyes either rolling or closing. Furthermore, it should be rehearsed (as should every single answer to prospective interview questions) so that you deliver it with the precision of a stage actor.

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