(This blog was originally posted on MENGonline and repeats advice Richard has been giving a friend who got fired last week and has started her job search.)
1. Spend Three Hours Asking Yourself Why the Last Job(s) Didn’t Work
- Start with “them.”
For the first hour, feel free to put all of the blame on them, whoever they are. This may teach you what “types” that you’ll need to deal with better in the future.
There are problem people everywhere… whether bosses, peers, or direct reports. Don’t assume you can avoid “them.” Learn how to survive when some around you are either purposefully or more often inadvertently contributing to your declining performance, whether real or perceived.
- Next, think about the fit or lack of such.
What would you hope not to repeat with a new employer? Here, you have a chance to understand what you like and the environment in which you work best. Now you can aim for a better fit for both your personality and skills. Here’s just one simple example: are you more action oriented or data and consensus driven? You’re more likely to be successful if you and the company have the same style.
- In the third hour, look at yourself.
Why did they let you go? Be real: You were selected for some reason. Here’s the tough part: accepting responsibility. Most people who are shot at work provide some of the bullets!
By the end of three hours, you should stop looking back and start looking forward.
2. Study What Color Is Your Parachute.
This is the fundamental book teaching job search that I recommend to interns and CEOs. Do all of the exercises… even the simple ones. Note that I used the word “study,” not skim or even read. Think of this as your textbook. You’ll learn a lot about yourself as well as the job search process.
Be sure to get the latest version since it’s updated yearly.
3. What’s Your Personal Mission?
What do you do everyday really well? You’ll likely be hired to utilize your current skills.
4. What’s Your Personal Vision?
What do you hope to do in 3-5-10 years because you deliver your mission so well everyday? Your vision can be fairly general and still provide a good benchmark to see if potential jobs can help you attain your goal. Your vision also provides you with a checklist of skills that you’ll need to develop.
I want to thank Drew McLellan since I’m adapting his Mission/Vision descriptions to fit job search. Note that he emphasizes these can be “no more than 10 words apiece.” Great advice!
5. Develop Your Positioning.
What’s your USP? Your positioning has to be unique, interesting, important, short and memorable. This is what you want people to remember about how you can help them.
This is your elevator pitch.
6. Develop Your Voice Mail Message.
You have 60 seconds to communicate:
- Personal connection
- Looking to network
- Value you can provide them
- Your USP
- Your phone number
- Personal close
This basically encapsulates your elevator pitch into a leave-behind networking message.
7. First Draft of Your Resume.
Realistically, you’ll need to do four or five drafts until you’re comfortable, even if you’re just updating an earlier version, which is likely. This is the foundation that everyone needs even though it probably is less important than your bio. Here’s a link to an earlier blog about resumes that includes some helpful links.
Adapt your resume for LinkedIn. Your messages must be consistent even if the styles and content vary somewhat. You can learn more by following Jan Wallen, LinkedIn Works author and speaker.
8. Your Bio
This is a personalized/memorable story about how your USP can help companies in your target industries. I agree with advice from career coach Peter Engler: Use your bio (see Never Lead with Your Resume) rather than your resume when networking.
- Who do you know?
- Who do you want to know?
- Do you have their contact information?
- How do you segment them?
- What’s your schedule? (Who do you contact first/next/today? How many will you contact daily?)
- How often do you contact your various segments?
- How do you manage your communications plan? (This is much harder than it sounds.)
10. Start Calling and Communicating
You’re ready to let the world know that you’re available for your next job to help your next boss/company. You need to use all the communications vehicles, including in-person networking, phoning, and social media.
You should be able to start contacting people within 2 weeks if you were blindsided by the firing… within 1 week if you saw it coming, which is more typical.