The Mid-Career GPS Podcast

177: Leveling Up Your Job Search Strategy

August 22, 2023 John Neral Season 3
177: Leveling Up Your Job Search Strategy
The Mid-Career GPS Podcast
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The Mid-Career GPS Podcast
177: Leveling Up Your Job Search Strategy
Aug 22, 2023 Season 3
John Neral

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Are you on the hunt for a game-changing career move, but can't seem to crack the code? Get ready to level up your job search strategy! In this episode, we dive into the heart of why strategy trumps wishful thinking. We examine the current state of your job hunt and discuss strategies to leverage your network and the importance of informational interviews. For those in the middle of their careers, we unveil five common pitfalls and how to deftly avoid them. Your next career chapter starts here, so get ready to turn the page!

Who says change is a bad thing? It’s time to challenge the status quo of your job search strategy. We encourage you to reassess the frequency of your applications and perhaps even broaden your search parameters. Have you contemplated applying for positions outside of your current title? There are benefits to stepping outside your comfort zone, and we'll guide you through them. We also discuss the power of professional resume reviews and the magic of engaging on LinkedIn. Don't merely participate in networking conversations; make them count! Whether you're actively seeking a job or just exploring, we're here to empower your journey every step of the way. Get ready to rethink and revitalize your approach to job searching!

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Thank you for listening to The Mid-Career GPS Podcast.
Please leave a rating and review on Apple Podcasts here.

Visit https://johnneral.com to join The Mid-Career GPS Newsletter, a free, twice-weekly career and leadership resource for mid-career professionals.

Connect with John on LinkedIn here.
Follow John on Instagram @johnneralcoaching.
Subscribe to John's YouTube Channel here.

Show Notes Transcript Chapter Markers

Send us a Text Message.

Are you on the hunt for a game-changing career move, but can't seem to crack the code? Get ready to level up your job search strategy! In this episode, we dive into the heart of why strategy trumps wishful thinking. We examine the current state of your job hunt and discuss strategies to leverage your network and the importance of informational interviews. For those in the middle of their careers, we unveil five common pitfalls and how to deftly avoid them. Your next career chapter starts here, so get ready to turn the page!

Who says change is a bad thing? It’s time to challenge the status quo of your job search strategy. We encourage you to reassess the frequency of your applications and perhaps even broaden your search parameters. Have you contemplated applying for positions outside of your current title? There are benefits to stepping outside your comfort zone, and we'll guide you through them. We also discuss the power of professional resume reviews and the magic of engaging on LinkedIn. Don't merely participate in networking conversations; make them count! Whether you're actively seeking a job or just exploring, we're here to empower your journey every step of the way. Get ready to rethink and revitalize your approach to job searching!

Support the Show.

Thank you for listening to The Mid-Career GPS Podcast.
Please leave a rating and review on Apple Podcasts here.

Visit https://johnneral.com to join The Mid-Career GPS Newsletter, a free, twice-weekly career and leadership resource for mid-career professionals.

Connect with John on LinkedIn here.
Follow John on Instagram @johnneralcoaching.
Subscribe to John's YouTube Channel here.

Speaker 1:

I hear this a lot. The last big job push for the year is between Labor Day and Thanksgiving and on some level it's true, but I want you to know that you can find a job anytime you want. As someone who landed a job in the middle of December, it's possible, but it is about the steps you take that lead you to get someone interested in hiring you. That leads to an interview where they get more interested in hiring you and ultimately they offer you a job. In this episode, I am going to help you refine your job search strategy, update you on some of the current market trends and give you some tips to help you when your job search isn't going as well as you'd like. Let's get started.

Speaker 1:

Hello, my friends, this is episode 177 of the Mid-Career GPS Podcast. I'm your host, john Nerrell. I help mid-career professionals who feel stuck, undervalued and underutilized show up to find a job they love, or love the job they have, by using my proven four-step formula. So if you're a listener who is admittedly getting ready for that big push to find that job between Labor Day and Thanksgiving, I've got a free guide for you on my website that's going to be very helpful and interesting to you. It's called Five Mistakes Mid-Career Professionals Make and Need to Stop Doing, and the guide's going to help you focus on what really matters in your job search and career progression. You can check the show notes for links or visit my website johnnerrellcom. Right there on the homepage you're going to see a space to click on and download your free guide today and let me help you figure out whatever is next for you and your career. And while you're on my website, make sure to check the Resources tab for additional free and paid resources to help you as well.

Speaker 1:

Now, whether you're actively job seeking or plan to before the end of the year, it's important to remember this Hope is not a strategy. This is one of the five mistakes in my mid-career guide. So go to the website and get that. But hope isn't a strategy, and I hear so much from people that they'll say, well, I'm hoping to find a job or I'm hoping this networking thing is going to work out. Let's stop hoping and get more tactical and strategic in your job search.

Speaker 1:

Every week, I hear from people who say they've applied for jobs online, they've networked and they aren't getting any job offers. And then they'll say, well, I'll keep hoping something will work out. You do not need more hope. You need a better strategy. So let's talk about that. What's currently working in your job search strategy? Well, you might be somebody who is leveraging job boards such as LinkedIn or Indeed and you're applying online. Well, that's fine, but know that that is not the most likely way People find jobs. So when we look at things like applicant tracking system response rates, or rather, I should say, when we look at response rates from companies where people have applied online, typically what we tend to see is somewhere between a 10% and 20% response rate, in part because of how strict the applicant tracking system or the AI might be. Now, if you can get that response rate to 30%, we say your resume is performing extremely well and our response rates so you and I are clear on this is an email or a phone call that notifies you to say hey, we've reviewed your resume, you're not moving on so far, we've reviewed your resume and we'd like for you to begin the interview process Now.

Speaker 1:

While applying online is very quote unquote safe and you don't have to interact with a lot of people, it can also be very frustrating, especially in the current market. Well, a relatively recent article from Matt Youngquist in NPR, called a successful job search it's all about networking. I believe it's from 2012. He writes that at least 70%, if not 80%, of jobs are not published and yet most people goes on to quote they're spending 70 or 80% of their time surfing the net versus getting out there talking to employers, taking some chances and realizing that the vast majority of hiring is friends and acquaintances hiring other trusted friends and acquaintances. Well, when I looked at that and I researched for this episode, it brings up so many wonderful points that if you know someone within the organization that can advocate for your candidacy and by advocating hear the things that they most likely will do they will talk to a boss or superior and mention they know someone who might be a great fit for the job. This has certainly happened in my career and I've done this for other people, where I've said, hey, this is this person's background, I think they'd be a really great candidate because and I list three particular points and then they're told they still have to apply. But what happens in that case is that typically somebody in HR or the hiring team will be on the lookout for that application and they will pull that resume. So that person more than likely will get some type of initial screen or interview as part of the process.

Speaker 1:

Well, leveraging your network and finding out who's working where, who do you know who is willing to advocate for you? You always want to go and take a look at your warmest connections first, the people whom you directly know. But if we go back to episode 168, where I talked to Mac Pritchard from the Find your Dream Job podcast, mac walked us through three specific strategies for structuring your informational interview. That is a great way to warm up a cold networking connection or someone whom you haven't spoken to in a long while and learn more about the kind of work that they do. That maybe not immediately, but down the road they might think of you and simply say you know what? We've got a job at this company that I think you might be a great fit for, so you can apply online for jobs, you can apply through networking and you can also leverage an informational interview. So you have to ask yourself what's working in terms of your job search strategy?

Speaker 1:

Well, let's also take a look at what's not working. What are you not doing? The story you are telling yourself and other people about how much time you're spending. What I want to challenge here is how much focus time are you actually doing? Or are you telling a story that you're looking for sympathy from people where you're trying to prove to them you're putting all this effort in, but you're not getting the results? In other words, what's holding you back from doing something different that's going to get you a different result? Don't keep doing the same thing over and over and over again.

Speaker 1:

If you're applying for jobs online, something has to change. Your approach might be to network more frequently. You may have to change your resume. Maybe you get someone to professionally update your resume. You can go back to a couple of weeks ago where I talked to Portia Parker Griffin. She and her team handle all of the resumes for my one-on-one coaching clients that need resumes. It's a great episode to learn some very practical tips and strategies for what's happening right now regarding resumes. But if you are not looking very critically at what is not working in your job search, you are missing a huge component in building your mid-career GPS, because if it's not working, you got to change something. You got to do something different.

Speaker 1:

What I want to offer you here is that this is an opportunity to make a decision, singular. Make a decision about what you're going to do. For example, maybe you need to bring in an accountability partner. Maybe you need a friend or a colleague to really be there to support you in terms of holding you more accountable for the things that you want. Maybe it be in terms of how many networking connections you want to make or how many jobs you're going to be applying for. But what I want to offer you in deciding on this decision is that, in order to really take a look at some data, I'm going to suggest an offer that you change one thing in your job approach. For example, I would not double down on applying online and double down your networking efforts.

Speaker 1:

One. It's probably going to make it seem very overwhelming, especially if you're working a full-time job and you have family and life responsibilities, but then you may not know exactly which is going to give you the biggest ROI or even ROE return on your energy. So change one thing. Maybe for the next 21 days, you decide to double down on your networking efforts. Line up some informational interviews, schedule some virtual coffee chats with people. Grow your network on LinkedIn with people who are in the field you want to pursue or they're currently in the field that you're working in. And build your network that way.

Speaker 1:

When I say that, I want to be perfectly clear that you are not leading off with, hey, I'd love to connect as your company hiring. That's a huge turnoff. Don't do that. Take some time to build rapport and build that no-liking trust factor. There will come a time to ask for that. So be very careful to not change too many things, because it can certainly get overwhelming. It's also going to mess up your data. Well, earlier this month, we got two conflicting reports. One was saying that there were less job openings and one the next day that said, well, there were more job openings in the corporate sector. So what we know in this current marketplace right now is that different industries are performing better than others. Tech is still struggling a little bit. As we start gearing up toward the holidays, retail, we expect we'll tick up a little bit more in terms of jobs.

Speaker 1:

But there was an interesting article I found and I will make it a point to link it up in the show notes. It's an article by Nicky Carter from Indeed, called Five Key Hiring and Workplace Trends to Look Out For in 2023. So, even though this article is a few months old. I found the suggestions and the tips here to be very, very relevant. So two important things to keep in mind here are one job seekers have bargaining power Once you get the offer. Here is where you are going to negotiate and fine tune the details of that offer. You know they want you right.

Speaker 1:

So maybe you're looking at more money, better benefits, flexibility, but understand that part of what is causing frustration in the job search market right now is that companies are being more selective. This has been a trend we have seen pretty much all year, starting at the beginning at the end, rather, of 2022, is that companies are taking a little more time to actually make their selections. What I'm seeing in general, both with my clients and in talking with my colleagues, is that right around the five month mark and that's from when you begin to start your job search through locking down that offer five months tends to be the average for a mid-career professional right now in terms of finding a job. Yes, you can speed that up. Yes, you can slow that down, typically around five months, and part of that is because companies are being more selective.

Speaker 1:

Another thing to consider is that remote work isn't going anywhere. So remote work is absolutely here to stay, whether it's 100% or it's hybrid. That is something you're going to consider when you're talking about the overall fit for you and the company. But one of the most important things here is that you must have a clear message about what you are looking for in a new position, the value you provide and how your career story is going to get them interested in learning more about you and ultimately giving you a job offer.

Speaker 1:

If you cannot tell a clear and clean story, you are behind and I will offer, dramatically behind the people who are doing this exceptionally well. So how do you get better at telling your story? Well, you practice, and practice can look in a lot of different ways. So if your job search isn't going well, here's a few things you can do. First and foremost, get support. After you're getting support from your friends, family, colleagues, coworkers or a coach, figure out what that support looks like. One of the benefits that I know from being a coach, especially in the work with my clients, is that we're very objective and very impartial. When I'm working one-on-one with my clients, I get very clear with them about how direct can my feedback be. I will tell you if I think your approach might benefit you being a little bit different, or I will coach you very hard on why you're throwing up blocks of resistance to some things in your job search process. Ultimately, you're going to make the best decisions for you, but as a coach, I'm here to help you figure out and explore all those different avenues in being that support when you're building your mid-career GPS.

Speaker 1:

Additionally, if your job search isn't going well, do something different. Albert Einstein said the definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting the same results. The only rule here that I want you to remember is that there is no one way to find a job Now. While I have my own business and I've been in business full-time now for over six years when I was actively job seeking and I was looking for jobs, I was leaving no stone unturned. Well, in my business, there's no one way to get a client. I get clients through my podcast. I get clients through LinkedIn. I get clients through being on networking events and just building my network that way. So the rule is there are no rules. There are things that work really, really well. But I'm going to tell you this, my friends if you are doubling down on applying online and you are not leveraging your network, your timeline for finding a new job is more than likely going to be longer than what you want, especially if you're dealing with a 10 to 30% response rate. That's a lot of work with not a lot of return, where your return on networking can be up where in the ballpark of 70 to 80%. So do something different.

Speaker 1:

Now, in keeping with that theme about doing something different, here's a few suggestions. You can reevaluate your frequency, in other words, scaling up or down on your job search or your networking efforts. So maybe you only look for jobs one day a week because you're giving yourself a little bit of a break. But if you are giving yourself, if you're only doing it, say, one day a week, then you may go to two days a week. I do not believe or support that you should be looking online for jobs five days a week. One of the things that I coach my clients on is we build a job search strategy. That typically means they look for jobs online two days a week and the other two days of the week they apply for those positions, because more than likely, companies are posting jobs in multiple places and it's the same position. So your brain is going to see a job in Indeed and Glassdoor and Monster and LinkedIn and you're now going to think you're just seeing the same thing over and over again. Pick two job boards. I personally like Indeed and LinkedIn. Use them for your job search efforts. Let's say you look for a job on Monday, you apply on Tuesday. The only way you break that protocol is if that job closes on a Monday and you really like it, you apply for it on that day. So reevaluate your frequency.

Speaker 1:

Another way to do something different is to expand your job search. So, for example, if you're looking for jobs at the senior manager level, you may want to consider looking at the level above or below senior manager. Remember that the title you hold in your organization is reflective of that title within that organization. Your knowledge, skills, abilities and demonstrated competencies may very well be reflective of a job at a title higher than what you think. Say, for example, director May also be a little lower, and so in a certain company maybe you're only looking at managerial type jobs. Ultimately, you're going to decide what the best fit is and obviously looking at pay and whether that's something you can accept in terms of a job offer, given your lifestyle and your commitments, but broadening your job search can absolutely bring some fresh air into your search. You may also find that you may be getting more calls or invites to interviews.

Speaker 1:

I want to offer you this additional caveat and it's something that personally happened to me with the last job that I held you may like the company. You may apply for a job that you don't necessarily think you're qualified for. You may still get an interview, and I offer that because in getting that interview, you may never know where that job will lead. So, as I've shared before, I had accepted a job with an educational nonprofit and within three months, my role had changed because that's what they were hiring me for, but they had to get me into the organization first. So if you have a company that you're interested in, here's some additional suggestions you can apply. Get into their system. Find people who work there that are on LinkedIn that you can ask for an informational interview. Expand your network. If you are posting and, more importantly, engaging with other posts on LinkedIn, more than likely the LinkedIn algorithm is going to start putting you in their feeds and they're going to see how you are behaving and acting on LinkedIn. Are you adding value, sharing interesting thoughts and ideas? So expanding your job search here can be very advantageous.

Speaker 1:

If you are applying online and you are not getting any kind of traction whatsoever, I would offer that it is in your best interest to get your resume professionally reviewed and or rewritten, based on the job postings you are applying to online. Let an expert take over here. Let an expert like Portia Parker Griffin that I interviewed a couple episodes ago and actually was replayed for one of the best of episodes, but Portia and her team at Fly High Coaching do an amazing job and, as I say in the episode, they're also extremely affordable. It's going to save you a lot of time, but it's going to help you do something different, that you're going to get some different traction than what you are now. Another thing, though, is when you're networking, have better and clearer networking conversations.

Speaker 1:

So what I mean by this is you'll see people on LinkedIn every now and then post that they're looking for a job. They'll put their resume in there and they'll be like hey, I'm looking for a job. Well, if people don't know you, it's really not going to work to your advantage. Very, very small likelihood that it would, because it just doesn't yield great results. But once a month, if you said, hey, I'm actively looking for jobs in this sector, this field, I'm looking for an opportunity to connect with people, that might get you some traction. What I often find works a whole lot better is if you put that green open to work banner on your headshot, so recruiters will notice, hiring managers will notice, and let's acknowledge here that there is no shame in looking for a job right now in this market, especially if you are unemployed Over the last three years and thank you, pandemic, for this one. This is one of those things where it is more common to see people looking for a job and that stigma is gone from doing that. So I would offer if you're not using that open to work banner, please go ahead and do that.

Speaker 1:

Additionally, you can ask for feedback. So ask for feedback from your friends, your colleagues. Obviously, in a coaching relationship, it's one of the things that I often do from time to time is share very specific feedback, especially when we're having a very tactical or strategic type session in that. But if you're not getting feedback, you're not getting any input or intel from other people who might have a different perspective than you in terms of how you are approaching your job search. Keep in mind that very, very rarely and I'm almost going to say you're never going to get it but I've seen people do this, though it is extremely difficult to get feedback from a hiring manager or company as to why you did not move on in a hiring round, be it first round, second or third. They typically just do not offer feedback. For this reason, they can't provide a same experience to everyone, and so if it looks like they're showing favoritism, which obviously out of the kindness of their heart, you're hoping that they're just going to give you something to hold on to. They typically don't offer that feedback for legal reasons. So understandably frustrating for you, but also let's acknowledge where the company side is there as well. So feedback can be a little difficult, but you can certainly get feedback from your friends, colleagues. Informational interviews can also be great feedback sessions as well, depending on how that is structured.

Speaker 1:

And the other thing here and oh gosh, this is so hard and I know this episode's gone a little bit longer than what I had initially planned, but hopefully you're staying with me and you're getting really great value out of this. Stop being needy. What I want to offer you here is, if your job search isn't going well, I need you to get in touch with how needy you are being Neediness and grasping, as comes out in interviews or even in cover letters and applications, where you'll see people say things like oh, you should hire me because I'm a hard worker. I know I've been out of work for a while, but I really need this job and I know I'll be great for you. Okay, well, if somebody walked up to you and you didn't know them and they were like you should marry me, you would run. I know I've said that before on the podcast, but I can't emphasize that enough.

Speaker 1:

Neediness and grasping is a huge turnoff. It's a huge turnoff for us in personal relationships, so why would we do it in professional relationships? This is where getting feedback from a colleague, a friend or a coach can be extremely helpful, right? So if I have a client that says to me hey, john, will you review this cover letter for me before I send it? That's one of the first things I'm looking at is how needy are they being, how convincing are they trying to be, which can be a huge turnoff. So get in touch with how you are showing up and whether or not the way you're showing up is helping or hurting your cause.

Speaker 1:

Lastly, I wanna leave you with this this job market is like a constantly moving target. There are days when it feels really good and other days when it doesn't, and that can play tremendously on your mental fortitude and your outlook and your positivity in this job search process. What I wanna offer you is that consistency is key. Consistency and doing it in a way that is leveraging and getting you results. Whether it be through applying online networking, seeking out informational interviews, consistency is key. Stay positive. If you need that moment where you're like I gotta take a knee, I'm done. This job search sucks. I need a pint of ice cream, whatever that is, you can give yourself that pity party. You can give yourself that moment, but, my friends, I'm gonna need you to get right back on it. It is okay to feel disappointed and frustrated in your job search. It is part of the process but what I need you to do is just to get through that and look at your approach. Figure out one thing you're going to do different. Stay positive, be persistent and be consistent in doing that one thing for 21 days and evaluate your data to see how much that is helping you.

Speaker 1:

Now it goes to that saying if you're frustrated in your job search and things are not working and you're looking for some help from a career coach, I would love to talk to you. So I have a variety of options in terms of how long I work with people and price points that are reflective of different budgets, and if you're interested and you wanna learn a little bit more how I can help you, simply email me. Email me at johnnerlcom and in the subject line put I need your help, and what I will do is we will schedule a 15 minute qualifying call to see if you're a great fit for coaching and what your specific needs are and whether or not I can help you. Now, if I can't help you, I've got a phenomenal network that can, and I offer that to you because sometimes I'm not the best fit for a coach for everybody. Sometimes my fee structure isn't in line with what they're thinking or they're looking for some different options, and so that's why I'm very happy to make referrals if I'm not the right coach for you, but I'm gonna tell you nine times out of 10, I'm your guy. I'm the one that's gonna be able to help you and building that mid-career GPS very tactfully and strategically and doing it in a way that methodically gets you from point A to point B. I have seen it proven time and time again. When my clients reach out and they say to me I got promoted, I got a job, I'm so excited, all those things. So if you're interested in connecting further, just email me at johnnerylcom. Let's set up a 15 minute phone call and let's see how I can help you build your mid-career GPS to whatever is next.

Speaker 1:

Hope you enjoyed the episode. I know I went a little bit longer today, but thank you for staying with me. My friends remember this. We build our mid-career GPS one mile or one step at a time, and how we show up matters. Make it a great rest of your day. Thank you for listening to the Mid-Career GPS podcast. Make sure to follow on your favorite listening platform and, if you have a moment, I'd love to hear your comments on Apple Podcast. Visit johnnerylcom for more information about how I can help you build your mid-career GPS or how I can help you and your organization with your next workshop or public speaking event. Don't forget to connect with me on LinkedIn and follow me on social at JohnNerylCoaching. I look forward to being back with you next week. Until then, take care and remember how we show up matters. Thank you.

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