Unemployment is scary! Bills to pay, a family to support, and probably the need to learn a whole new way to find a new job in an era of social media, millions of job postings, scammers targeting desperate job seekers, resumes (or not?), cover letters (or not?), LinkedIn (or not?). Yikes!
You need a job as soon as possible! Here’s how to do that…
THE KEY to Finding a New Job Quickly: Knowing and Telling People the Next Job You Want
Because he didn’t want to limit his opportunities, a job seeker recently posted this open-ended response to a Discussion asking LinkedIn Group members what job they were looking for:
“Looking for a job opportunity.”
No kidding! Nothing specific – just “a job opportunity” – any old “opportunity” would do, apparently. No one responded because, in reality, no one could respond intelligently.
Generic Requests Are Wasted Opportunities
Job seekers have told me that they ask for generalized help, as above, to keep their “options open.”
These job seekers don’t want to be “pigeon-holed.”
Consequently, they give generic responses to the what-do-you-want question so they can “be flexible” in response to any opportunity that may present itself.
Whether in an email, a LinkedIn Group, your LinkedIn Profile, or a face-to-face discussion, be specific about the job you are seeking. Being vague seems reasonable, but it doesn’t work now!
I’ve spoken to at least 1,000 job seekers and, when someone tells me, “I am looking for anything!” they are telling what my grandmother called “a bald-faced lie.” No one can do “anything” (tight-wire walker, brain surgeon, and social media analyst?), at least not well enough to make a living doing it.
GENERIC DOES *NOT* WORK TODAY!
I’ve never seen a job posted for someone to do “anything.” (And if there was such a job posting, I strongly recommend NOT applying for or taking that job! )
Recruiters are definitely not searching through LinkedIn for someone who can do “anything.” They search using the specific terms and requirements of the job they are trying to fill (a.k.a. “keywords”). If you don’t have those keywords, you won’t be found. You will, in fact, be invisible to the people you want to find you.
If someone asks what you want, it’s usually because they want to help if they can. Don’t waste those opportunities. It is in your best interest to be easy to help – be prepared, be brief, and be focused.
Generic Responses Seem Desperate
Often the person who offers the “anything” response says it with a look of panic in his or her eyes and several exclamation points after it –
I’LL TAKE ANYTHING!!!
That’s not a good impression to give someone who could be your connection to a new job.
You need to be clear and confident about what you want to avoid giving the impression that you are desperate. Whether you’ve been unemployed for two days or two years, don’t hesitate to tell anyone who asks the job you want, and don’t feel apologetic or embarrassed about being unemployed. Sadly, millions of people are unemployed right now!
Think about it – you probably avoid desperate people, but you are impressed by confident ones. Most of us react the same way. So, when you are prepared, you can present yourself confidently and clearly.
Be Specific about What You Want Now
You can be more confident and clear about what you want if you take time to figure out what it is before someone asks. And, you can modify your answer later, if you need to.
If you don’t know where to start, think about the terms you use when searching through the jobs on a job board.
Then, rather than an I’ll-take-anything desperation answer, when someone asks what job you are looking for, tell them –
- The job title(s) that interest you – maximum of 3.
- The industry(ies) or class(es) of employers that interest you – maximum of 2.
- The employer(s) that interest you – minimum of 10.
- The location(s) preferred.
Follow up with a brief explanation of the reasons you are interested in those job titles, industries, and employers –
- A summary of your background (e.g. 3 years working as a project lead in a Ruby-on-Rails environment for an eCommerce company)
- One or two major related accomplishments (e.g. led the successful implementation of 2 new applications to collect user feedback and product reviews)
Your goal is to give someone a very good idea of what you want next. Something concrete and memorable.‘
Read Job-Hunt’s Guide to Personal Search Engine Optimization to understand how to be found by recruiters for the job you want.
Productively Answer the What-Do-You-Want Question
Going back to our example at the beginning of this article, this job seeker would have received much more useful responses if he had written something like this, as appropriate for him:
“I am seeking a job opportunity as a senior IT project manager in the banking industry like Bank A or Bank B, preferably in the greater Atlanta area. I have 5 years of experience at [name of bank], specializing in data and network security for a system of over 300 ATM’s distributed across a 100 square mile area with a compromised hardware score less than half of the industry standard.”
That request for help would get a much better response because it is specific and memorable, particularly for people in IT, the banking industry, the data and network security world, in the Atlanta area, and also for people who know people in those fields.
Contrast that with “Looking for a job opportunity”? Which do you think will receive the most help?
Focus Your LinkedIn Profile
Particularly when you are in a job search, your LinkedIn Profile is probably the best marketing tool you have. Make your focus clear in your LinkedIn Profile, and the recruiters who search LinkedIn so relentlessly for qualified candidates will find your Profile.
The key, again, is focus. A generic LinkedIn Profile (e.g. “Marketing Professional”) will not contain the right keywords to rank high in search results.
So,the LinkedIn Profile for the fellow in our example, above, should make it clear that he is a senior IT project manager by:
- Having a clear Professional Headline, the element which follows his name and photo nearly everywhere on LinkedIn, containing the right keywords, like this “Senior IT Project Manager, Specialist in Data and Network Security for Bank ATM Networks.”
- Specifying Atlanta, or the “greater Atlanta area” as his location (top of the LinkedIn Profile), since that’s his target geography.
- Listing the projects, skills, and, particularly, the accomplishments making it clear he does that job well in the Work Experience section.
- Including documents or links to examples of his work which demonstrate his experise — PowerPoint presentations, etc. — as long as they don’t violate corporate confidentiality requirements from current and former employers..
- Adding some of the projects he has worked on, related to his goal, to the Projects section of his Profile.
- Including related degrees, certifications, and coursework in the Education section.
- Adding relevant Skills to the Skills & Endorsements section and getting colleagues to endorse him for those skills.
- Adding Recommendations for each of the jobs in his Work Experience section.
- Sharing LinkedIn Updates on a daily basis — something he has found which is of interest to people in his field, something he has written which is public, or his comments and “Likes” on the LinkedIn Updates made by other LinkedIn members.
Done well, LinkedIn becomes a live portfolio, marketing you to employers, as long as it is focused!
For more about LinkedIn visibility, read Job-Hunt’s LinkedIn Job Search Guide, particularly 12 Steps to Outrank Your Competitors in LinkedIn Search in 2020 (Personal LinkedIn SEO) and the free ebook Smart Personal Branding with LinkedIn.
Focus Your Networking on Target Employers
Forty percent (40%!) of jobs are filled by job candidates who have been referred by a current employee vs. 7% for job boards.
These are typically called “employee referrals,” and employee referrals are the best way to land a job interview and a new job. Employers prefer people who are known by current employees and recommended by those employees. And, usually, the employee receives an award which can be up to $5,000 or $6,000, so they like to make referrals, too.
Read Fast Track to a New Job: An Employee Referral for tips on understanding and succeeding in getting a new job via an employee referral.
The Bottom Line: Focus for a Shorter Job Search
When you can quickly and memorably tell people what you are looking for, you will have a more effective network and LinkedIn Profile. Being generic may feel like you are maximizing your options, but in reality, being generic is making your job search more difficult, taking more time than it needs to take. So, fight that instinct to be generic, and focus – for a shorter job search.
About the author…
Online job search expert Susan P. Joyce has been observing the online job search world and teaching online job search skills since 1995. A veteran of the United States Marine Corps and a recent Visiting Scholar at the MIT Sloan School of Management, Susan is a two-time layoff “graduate” who has worked in human resources at Harvard University and in a compensation consulting firm. Since 1998, Susan has been editor and publisher of Job-Hunt.org. Follow Susan on Twitter at @jobhuntorg and on Facebook, LinkedIn.
More about this author…