Have you ever been hiking in winter? Many people think the forests appear bare and blah in winter. But there’s something you might like: you can see far and wide. You can touch bare earth and explore hills and ravines typically covered by brush, flora, and fauna. In winter, nothing blocks your view.
Think about your job search the same way. When you can force yourself to slow down, climb above the hurried stress of the job hunt, and look at the big picture, you’ll gain a clearer view. You’ll feel less overwhelmed, and in turn, potential employers will see you as calm, prepared, and positive.
In this article, we’ll consider ways to gain a big-picture approach to your job search by examining expert advice from coaches and business leaders.
Stop Swimming Downstream
Barry Goldberg, executive coach and business owner, reminds us how easy it is to swim downstream in the job search—to do what seems easiest and to compare our own efforts to other candidates.
“Reading ads and applying to jobs online feels good, but it is the least productive thing you can do. You are trying to fit into a pre-built mold, competing with hundreds of others. Capture who you are in a compelling CV or resume. Have stories ready to tell about your big achievements, toughest challenges, and most passionate interests. Go out in the world and network purposefully and respectfully. Follow through on your promises and commitments, as people are willing to make suggestions and introductions. Show up for conversations, listen well, and be creative about what the next gig will look like,” Goldberg encourages.
Prep for Your Job Search Before You Ever Start Looking
Many of us launch a job search in a hurry. We learn our company is laying off a group of people, and we fear we may lose our jobs. Or we find ourselves working in a toxic environment, and when we can no longer tolerate the unhealthy atmosphere, we frantically try to move on.
This is the worst position for a job seeker—desperation.
The best time to prepare for your job search is before you need a new job. One way you can do this continuously is through developing strong networking skills.
“If you start networking early in your life and at the onset of your career, your network will be vast. Tap into it when looking for a new job. Maybe you’re just gaining information about an industry or role, or letting people in your network know you are looking for employment. The great part of a network is you never finish building it,” notes Christie Martin, Co-founder of Skills Lab Training.
Andrea Presley, Vice President of Human Resources at Windstream, also believes in the power of networking and urges job seekers to maintain their network.
“Build key relationships and nurture them so that when you need a letter of reference or recommendation, you don’t have to remind your connections who you are, what you did, what you are doing, what you hope to do, where you are, and what you have accomplished,” Presley mentions.
Focus on Changing What You Can
There’s a reason Twelve Step recovery groups encourage members to accept the things they cannot change and seek the courage to change the things they can. It works! Time spent obsessing over aspects of your job search beyond your control is time wasted. Make your job search efforts count.
“Focus on what you can control. You need to know it’s not personal if the job search takes longer than expected. Not only is it not personal, but it’s not a professional shortcoming if the job search drags on, most likely. Most people I’ve seen with the longest job searches are those I’d hire fastest if I could—smart, strategic people making $100K+ at major Silicon Valley companies.
Focus on improving your resume and interview skills. If you’re doing that to no avail, it’s not just you struggling. The system is broken for a reason, so take time to give yourself validation instead of criticism,” asserts Maggie McCombs, Editorial and Blog Content Manager for Rent.
Slow Down and Step Back
When we’re looking for a new job, we often rush and pour ourselves into the process so fully that we miss opportunities to network. Also, we often overlook our need to take care of ourselves and become highly stressed.
Go Slow to Go Fast
“When we rush, we often begin to panic and feel desperate, which leads us to making poor choices. Take time to reflect on your skills and passions. See where they overlap. Find roles that align with the overlap. This will always be more fulfilling,” urges career coach Michael Stinnett.
Invest in Self-Care
“See yourself mid-flight (in a job). The pressure is intense, and suddenly, there’s a need to utilize airbags. Your child is beside you. You can either give oxygen to the child or do what the flight attendant says is best—put it on yourself first. That’s self-care. It makes you most effective and gives you stamina and oxygen to do the job at hand, even if your job is to conduct a job search,” shares career coach Armene Humber.
“Rest. Breathe. Decide whether this is actually worth it. There’s not much difference between looking for jobs and looking for clients, so becoming a solopreneur might make more sense. It’s easier than it has ever been before,” adds Joshua Brockway, Managing Director of Key and Crown, LLC.
Upskill and Prepare to Make Your Move
Presley also encourages job seekers to consider staying put while building a stronger skill set.
“Invest in micro-learning to sharpen skills. Consider higher education, but if that isn’t the route you wish to take, find another path. Webinars, seminars, lunch-and-learns, conferences, six-week certificate programs… all these opportunities to learn allow you to invest in yourself. And don’t downplay opportunities to move laterally if you will gain new or additional skills and knowledge. It’s still upward movement,” Presley adds.
Look Past the Horizon
Ultimately, as a job seeker, it’s very easy to miss the forest for the trees. We often feel stress from a variety of sources, including financial need and family pressure. It’s important to step back periodically during your job search to avoid burnout, cynicism, and discouragement. If you can look past the horizon to what’s next, you’ll see yourself in a successful, fulfilling role. And your positive outlook will boost your job search and impress employers.
If you need additional job search advice, check out Lensa Insights.