Whatever your reason for exploring new opportunities, whether it was your decision or in response to redundancy, it can be overwhelming and a lot to think about. Here is a checklist of thirteen things to do that will help.
1. Be clear about what you want. This isn’t to say you might not consider more than one thing (such as a contract role OR a piece of consultancy work) – but have clarity.
2. Understand your strengths and ensure roles / projects you consider will allow you to use them. Your strengths differ from your competencies. For example, I can do analysis on a spreadsheet and I can also facilitate a training session. Half a day of the former would leave me drained, needing to escape and talk to people. Half a day of the latter I would be smiling, upbeat and full of energy. I have the competence to do them both, but I would much prefer the latter. Lauren Scarlett at Capp, home of the Strengths Profile suggests looking out for areas that give you an energetic buzz and where you naturally pay attention to help spot your strengths. I would also recommend Sally Bibb’s The Strengths Book.
3. Practice articulating what you want simply and concisely. Whilst it may be true that you ‘want to make a difference’ or ‘work with like minded people’ that in itself won’t help others think of you for opportunities. You need to be able to give them specifics, such as the types of role and the environments you are experienced in. For example, ‘I am a HR Project Manager with a specialism in launching new HR systems and training teams on how to use them’. That way if someone hears about a business needing someone to project manage the launch of their new system they will think of you.
4. Nail your elevator pitch. Be able to succinctly say who you are and what you do. Make it simple and memorable. You don’t want people’s eyes to glaze over as they lose interest. ‘I launch HR systems and help people use them.’
5. Make sure your LinkedIn profile is up to date and accurately represents you. Have a look now – would you want to learn more about you? My earlier blog gives some other tips on using LinkedIn when you are looking for a job.
6. Update your CV. Ensure it is concise (two to three pages), compelling and focuses on your achievements – how you personally have made a difference in your roles. Use bullet points, in the past tense when describing what you have delivered and where possible quantify things.
7. Tell people you are exploring opportunities. Talk to people, make sure your network and recruiters are aware you are open to opportunities (of course, make it clear if this is in confidence.)
8. Ask people for help and introductions. The vast majority of my clients say they would happily help someone out, but they usually cringe when I suggest that they could ask for help.
9. Don’t rely on online adverts to apply for opportunities. In fact I would go so far as to say avoid them wherever possible and only apply online if you have exhausted all other avenues and to supplement a personal approach (some organisations insist on it as part of their process). Instead, see if someone in your network can help with a personal introduction to someone in the business. Take time to research who the hiring manager is. Send a targeted and personal message.
10. Present a positive image in the market. Job hunting can be tough. There will be quiet times. A week when you are working flies by. A week when you aren’t working (and need/want to be) can drag. There will be down times. But no matter how challenging, keep a positive slant when talking to your network or recruiters. You will come over better at interview.
11. Talk honestly to people you can confide in. Talk to your family, close friends, your coach or people in a similar situation. Don’t bottle it up. I remember when I was between roles when I returned from Germany, going for lots of interviews and being constantly ‘on’. It was exhausting. At one point I sat on my bed sobbing to my mum that it was just so hard. It’s OK. No one can be strong all the time.
12. Use the holiday season as well. Use quiet times in the recruitment market during holidays to prepare and catch up with your network ahead of the market picking up afterwards.
13. Don’t job hunt full time. Schedule a certain amount of time per week for the job search, then after you have done it, take time for yourself to do things you enjoy. Before you know it, you will be in a new role and time will be more scarce again.
If you would like coaching whilst exploring your next career move I can help. More information about my individual packages can be found here.