“My Job Thoughts | Career advice from a headhunter” will enter a new era: one posting every Monday (thanks to Bill, Cornell, David, Darain, Maria, Martin, Mary Anna, Mike, Stephanie, Victor and if YOU want to become a guest writer too, please contact me).
We kick off the week with “Application Strategy” as number 1 of the new series “Career advice from A to Z” which will keep you interested and me busy until Christmas:
Applying can be a full-time job in itself. A structured approach and follow-up, the definition of a real application strategy can help you to be more efficient, better manage your efforts – and get that new job!
There are many theories and frameworks around. We will choose one that is often used by career coaches: the TGROW model (Topic, Goal, Reality, Options and Way-Forward):
- Topic: What is the general issue to be addressed? It is here as per the title of this posting: a career move. It could, however, be also a promotion, career transition or else
- Goals: What exactly do you want to achieve? Make your goals SMART (Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Realistic, Timely): “Become an astronaut” when you earn your living with chinchilla farming does not seem realistic. On the other hand, “Leave my current employer, increase my salary by 15%, step up in the hierarchy by one layer and have the new contract in my pocket before the end of the year” sounds better
- Reality: Where do you stand today? Do you have the right skills? What is required to reach your goals? Be critical and ambitious with yourself. If you lack certain skills or a degree, go and get what’s missing for the next step (see posting “MBA or what are the alternatives?”)
- Options: These are the possibilities you have to get where you want to. For a career move, you should consider the following ones: Networking is key and we all know more people than we think. Actually, anybody in the world is only 7 connections away from you! Contact everyone you know and ask who they know to learn about vacancies before anyone else does. Use a Headhunter: I am a professional recruiter and truly believe that we have a place in today’s and tomorrow’s work place. However, the reality shows that only a small percentage of all candidates finds a job through us. Remember the probability in %? Here is the answer. Social media can be of enormous help too for your application strategy and LinkedIn is a very powerful tool to easily connect with the right people. Whether you decide or refuse to be present on LinkedIn, Facebook, Google+ etc, 70% of hiring decision makers will google you. And they will draw different conclusions which can be: “good online presence=takes control, networks, markets him/ herself in an effective way; bad or no online image=has not understood the 21th century”… LinkedIn has opened many doors for me and can do the same for you.CV databases: Platforms like Careerbuilder and others are another important puzzle piece in your application strategy. Nobody knows what they will look like in 10 years but today, many companies and recruiters use them. Unsolicited application by post mail: No. Don’t do that. 1 in 1000 may work but 999 are lost energy for all involved…
- Way-Forward: This is the meaty part. The best strategy is worth nothing without actions. Depending on how serious you are about changing job you could just update your LinkedIn profile or choose all options here above. SMART is key: Your networking efforts could be to attend 1 networking event per month as well as 1 formal meeting, 1 lunch and 1 breakfast with decision-makers per week and bring 5 new people into your network per week. Regarding headhunters, I recommend them (especially myself) but also recommend to be careful: choose 3, maximum 5 you trust and follow-up with them regularly. Here are my tips. Regarding Social Media, LinkedIn is still number 1 when it comes to careers. My experience is that out of 10 invitations, 8 will be accepted and once this is done, it is natural to ask “Priscilla, thanks for connecting. Please note I am currently looking for a new challenge. What is going on in your company, who could I contact?”. A SMART strategy can thus be: “Connect to all GMs and HR Managers in Real Estate in the Paris area by the end of July”. The total number of contacts that fall into this scope will define your daily to do list. For CV databases, choose a catchy title that encourages readers to open your resume (please compare “General Manager” to “General Manager/ MBA, telecommunications, 3 languages”). Update for instance one word in the resume every Monday to make sure you do not show up on page 17 with the comment “last updated in January 2012″ as nobody will open this anymore
Take ownership of your next career step, work as hard and organized on your application strategy as if you had a business plan to achieve and get that new job in 2012!