10 Tips For Job Seekers—How To Get The Most From Your Efforts

03/21/2017 01:13 pm ET
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So, you’re in the market for a new job. Most likely people are urging you to follow trends, pursue your passions, network, clean up your resume—all the standard things people do when they’re on the hunt for a new position. These timeless methods do continue to work because they remain relevant.

“But it’s also important to be creative and disruptive in your efforts,” says Lauren McDonald, President and CEO at Intuition Co-op, a strategic executive search firm based in New York City. “Job seekers need to stop wasting their time during their job search. Nine years ago, I made radical changes to my business. The result is consistently mind blowing. Every year gets better and better, and I'm happier because the people I work with are happier.”

McDonald has a good point. Most job seekers make the same mistakes over and over again. Among them:

  • They have no plan for going forward.
  • They ignore their online presence.
  • They have a laundry-list resume.
  • They don’t research the company they are interviewing with.
  • They underestimate their value.

McDonald is known on LinkedIn for being rather outspoken when it comes to her views, but she’s equally outspoken when it comes to sharing nuggets of information in order to help job seekers. With decades of experience behind her, she knows a thing or two about the world of recruiting.

“Recruiting for firms isn’t just about the candidate’s skill set,” says McDonald. “I’m obsessed with the concept that candidates have to be the right fit for a specific position. Beyond the standard reference checking, it’s also about assessing emotional intelligence (EQ) and how people tell the story of their career. You have to be observant and be a good listener.

“Most companies register with multiple recruitment firms. Job seekers should do the same thing. They should also ask recruiters open ended questions like “do you understand what I do? Can you market me to companies on your slate? Who was the person in the role most recently?” It’s important to do your research and beware of companies who cannot hold talent.”

Lauren McDonald
Lauren McDonald

10 Tips From Lauren McDonald

I asked McDonald to share her best tips for job seekers that might help them to achieve their goals in a more unique manner. Here they are:

1. Back Up, Back Up, Back Up

I created a video to show people how to back up their contacts on LinkedIn. Job seekers are spending hours on LinkedIn connecting with people, and people don’t realize there’s a download button that provides each person (free accounts) with an Excel spreadsheet of their connections. PASSWORD: #gogogo! I recommend backing up twice a month.

2. NEVER Bring Business Cards To A Networking Event

What happens when you give someone your card? Poof. You never see them again. Instead of handing someone a card, tell them you don’t have a card and ask if you can have their card, or if you can have their email address. Put that email in your IPhone. Now you have a reason to follow up – you can email them with your email address and contact information. You have no reason to email them if you hand them your card.

3. Don’t Fall Down A Rabbit Hole On LinkedIn

A job search can be debilitating, especially if a job seeker has lost their job versus those who are still employed while job searching. Sitting on in front of a computer or on LinkedIn can make a person feel isolated and depressed.

Being conscious of what you are doing when online and for how much time is imperative. When on LinkedIn, make sure that you are setting a timer and stay focused.

4. Stay Organized

Keep a notebook or excel spreadsheet with every job that they apply to. Copy and paste the job description in a word document. Once a company takes down this job opening, job seekers won’t be able to remember the details. Applying to a similar job is easier when you have a copy of the original description.

5. Keep In Touch When You Don’t Need Anything

Be the colleague who sends holiday cards, or who remembers to say Happy Birthday. LinkedIn sends out reminders of birthdays and anniversaries. So many people complain about this - - - but it’s a solid tool that helps you to develop your relationship with a co-worker. Be the person who takes 2 seconds to hit send. It’s that simple. When you want to reach out to someone for help with your search, it’s easier if you’ve been in touch over the years.

6. Turn Rejection Into Motivation

I think that rejection is hard to handle for everyone. I’m used to it because I’ve been in sales and recruiting for over 20 years. Rejection can paralyze a search, and I want to encourage people to realize if they receive a no, they may have dodged a bullet. However, the only words they hear are “we didn’t pick you.”

If rejected by a company, look at their competitors and the vendors of the company, as well as their competitors. There’s opportunity in rejection.

7. Resume + LinkedIn Always Updated

While everyone knows that resumes are required, an updated LinkedIn profile is now more important. In-house recruiters, hiring managers, and Human Resources will look at a LinkedIn Profile before a resume.

Two points of note:

1. There are two lines to describe who you are and what you do below your name. Use this space to be specific about what you are looking for whether it’s a full time or freelance position, and describe your skills because this is what people see first.

2. The summary section has so much space to write whereas a resume has a limited amount of space. Take advantage of highlights and accomplishments during your career and don’t be afraid to brag a little.

8. Write Thank You Notes For Referrals

Too many people ask for favors and too few acknowledge the kindnesses. When a friend counsels you on the phone, generously offers great advice or a colleague refers you for a position, write a thank you note. Pick up the phone. Call to express gratitude.

9. Conferences & Tradeshows

Every conference has a keynote speaker. Research these conventions and the speakers at the tradeshows. They have sponsors that are companies in your industry. Check out their social media profiles. Follow these companies for job postings.

10. Have A Vision Board

Staying motivated during a job search is a job in itself. Go old school. Go to the store and buy poster board and a glue stick. Sound silly? It’s not.

You need to have a vision for where you are going. You already know where you are and it’s going to be a lot of work in finding your next role.

What can you put on your vision board? I suggest a great vacation plan to look forward to. Combinations of words and images that you can look at daily will help you remain tenacious. And that’s the most important thing.

Final Thoughts

“People need to be in charge of their careers and have a bit of fire in their belly,” says McDonald. “Instead of being fearful, turn it into motivation. Play to your strengths and be tenacious and not let rejection stop you. Don’t be complacent—keep going and be better and better each time you apply for a job. Keep at it and know that the future holds a great job for you.”

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