By: Robin Cangie
Are you one of the 71 percent of employees who want to change jobs in 2018? Don't wait. January and February are two of the busiest months of the year for hiring managers.
Do these three things now to get a leg up and make 2018 the Year of the Dream Job.
Step 1: Identify the top 3 skills required for the job you want.
Look at job descriptions. Talk to hiring managers, recruiters and people who are already working in the roles you plan to apply for. Ask questions like:
- What are the most important skills that successful candidates possess?
- Are there any specific credentials or certifications required?
- What are the biggest challenges of this role?
- What teams will this role collaborate with on a regular basis?
- What do you know now that you wish you’d known when you started in this role?
To find the right people, start with your LinkedIn network. You probably already have a lot of 1st- and 2nd-degree connections who would be more than happy to help. Beyond that, search for professionals in your area and ask them to connect. Customize your connection request along the lines of, "I’m interested in your line of work and am trying to connect with local professionals to learn more. Would you be open to connecting?" If they accept your request, send a simple note asking if they’re open to coffee or a phone call.
Don't let the fear of cold outreach stop you. After all, how did you feel the last time someone asked you to share your expertise? Pretty good, right? Flattered, excited, and eager to help? That’s probably how these people feel, too!
Step 2: Match your experience to these skills.
One of the biggest objections I hear from people who want to change jobs is, “But I don’t have the right experience!” Maybe not at first glance, but if you dig a little deeper, you probably have more transferable skills than you think you do.
The key here is to think not just about individual projects and responsibilities. Take it up one level and think about the skills from Step 1 that you needed in order to do well at those projects and responsibilities. Then, find a specific story that exemplifies those skills and strengths.
Let’s say, for example, that you’re a sales professional who wants to move into a marketing role. One of your strengths is the ability to understand prospects’ challenges and tell a compelling, personalized story that about how your product will address those challenges. In other words, you’re great at storytelling, which is a critical ability for marketers, too.
Boom! You’ve got yourself a transferable skill. Next, think of a specific time when you used that skill in action. Perhaps you gained a critical insight on a sales call that became the basis of a new marketing campaign.
See where I’m going with this?
If you’re still missing a critical skill that will keep you from landing the job you want, seek out training or volunteer opportunities that can help you fill in the gap.
Step 3: Craft a killer “why” story.
It’s not enough to know your skills and strengths. You have to bring them together into a coherent, credible story. This story should clearly articulate where you’ve been, what you’ve learned and gained and where you intend to go next.
I like to call this your “why” story. A good “why” story should hit on all the following:
- A concise overview of your relevant personal and professional experience
- How you have used the skills and strengths from Week 1 in your career so far
- Why this job (the job you’re applying for) is the next logical step on your path
One of my favorite tricks for telling a good “why” story is the “common thread” technique. Look across your professional history and identify one common thread that has shaped the trajectory of your career so far. Use this as the basis for your "why" story.
Continuing with our fictional sales professional, her example “why” story might look like this:
I’m currently in charge of new business for my company’s entire West Coast region and have spent the last 5 years in increasingly senior sales roles, mostly in consumer SaaS. Before I went into sales, I had a brief stint in Accounting, which it turned out I hated, and studied International Relations in college. The common thread across all my experience, and really my entire life, is that I love telling stories and am quite good at it. I credit my success in sales with my ability to understand prospects’ needs and tell them a true and compelling story about how our product meets those needs. It’s also why I have so much respect for marketing. As for my next role, I’ve always loved to write and am looking for the opportunity to do more of it, which is why I’m interested in the Content Marketing Manager position.
Don't skimp on this step. A good "why" story is the difference between a qualified but forgettable candidate and one who blows the hiring manager away.
Step 4 bonus: Update your online presence
Ok, so you have a list of critical skills and strengths. You’ve found stories from your own career that map to each one. You’ve written and memorized your “why” story. Now what?
It's time to revamp your online presence and align it with the strengths, skills and experience you want to showcase. Update your LinkedIn profile, rewrite your resume and start practicing interview questions.
If this sounds like a lot of work, it is. I never promised 3 easy steps, after all. But it's worth it. By investing a few hours now, you're investing in a career you love for the long haul.
Robin Cangie is a personal branding and career coach and former startup marketing executive. She helps high-achieving professionals build their confidence, credibility and personal brands without selling their souls. Her approach integrates 10+ years of experience in executive leadership, people management, marketing, and startups, plus a lifelong love of ideas and learning. Learn more at robincangie.me.
Ellevate Network is a global women’s network: the essential resource for professional women who create, inspire and lead. Together, we #InvestInWomen.