A few months ago, after my husband and I voiced solidarity in recharging our work-out routines, I met with a humbling experience, followed by an epiphany. After transitioning from my morning wake-up routine and proudly lacing my tennisshoes, I grabbed my Droid and headed downstairs to fulfill my day’s exercise commitment.
Eyeing the fancy new exercise bike in which we recently invested, I adjusted the seat height from Rob’s 6′ 2″ frame to accommodate my 5′ 3″. Popping a DVD in the player, wrapping my bundle of hair into a ponytail, and placing my Droid in the holder, I began pedaling.
“Hmmm,” I thought, as I reached for my Droid, “I wonder what tweets I may be missing? Oh, what about my email … let’s see, click, read, refresh, read, refresh.” Pedaling some more, my pace ebbed and flowed as I focused in and out of the task at hand and the ever-constant chatter of my friendly Twitter stream, or dipped back into email to ensure I was up-to-the-minute with client, colleague or partnership initiatives.
Hmmm, exercising like this is not only physically cathartic, but amazingly contributory to my business goals … or so I justify. And wow, it really isn’t so hard … fun, actually.
Humming along in my happy place, I continued to absorb tweets and emails, filter audio moments from the television, and pedal, when, suddenly, a large, confident hand reached into my sanctuary and plucked away my Smartphone, accompanied by my husband’s incredulous remark.
Instantly, red-faced, I nodded agreement, refocusing my attention to my exercise goal and releasing my Droid from its grip.
Similarly, in job search, I often hear career-minded folks expressing a strong desire to land that next great gig propelling them to a more gratifying environment with better hours, less travel, more kudos, reduced stress and perhaps even, a salary raise.
All they need is that shiny new career bike to trim and tone their resume and construct a job-search roadway with smoothly paved highways and bridges that will lead them to their new destination. Oh, what a fun adventure!
Unfortunately, this formulaic and unpainful approach to career management rarely works. While custom career equipment including resumes, cover letters, biographies, leadership addenda and LinkedIn, Twitter and Facebook profiles are critical to providing the word story essence, the job seeker must be the fuel, moving the career communications along the highway.
This organic, integrated marketing communication exercise includes arduous maneuvers, where, in the moment, all you can concentrate on is moving through it. Examples of these career fueling exercises include:
1. Placing an uncomfortable cold call asking a warm contact for help.
2. Joining an industry association where the movers and shakers YOU want to meet attend, then actually attending meetings and joining committees to begin building that career relationship bridge.
3. Getting active on LinkedIn and Twitter, offering meaningful content that delivers value and positions you as an industry or position-specific expert.
4. Researching and connecting with hiring decision-makers and company insiders via LinkedIn, JigSaw, Manta.com, ZoomInfo, Twitter and other online goldmines.
5. Reading the local business news, such as Bizjournals.com, in the geographic area where you want to land, noting movers and shakers, business expansions and changes, new shoots of growth to which you can offer yourself as a business developing, profit-generating, customer relationship building expert who can add value and solve challenges linked to their growth. Then, contacting the decision-makers at these companies, introducing yourself.
5. Reaching out to recruiters via email, and then placing a carefully orchestrated phone follow-up that adds value to the written conversation.
6. Asking for informational interviews to build relationships with pros in the target profession you desire, and then preparing in advance to show them you value their time.
7. Practicing interviewing with a trusted, objective third-party interview coach, garnering and responding to their constructive feedback.
8. Telling your friends, neighbors, librarian, former co-workers and bosses of your career transition goals; you never know whom they might know and at some point in the process, introduce you to.
9. Sending a brief, high-impact email or snail mail follow-up thank-you to all contacts with whom you connect, showing you value their time and input. Following up periodically with value-add news or other business sharings that prove you listened to their needs and appreciate an ongoing relationship.
By kindling activity and momentum with specific, inertia-inducing career plan action steps, your voice will be heard. Despite having intellectually sweated over a perfectly strategized resume chronicle, if all you do with that newly minted career equipment is submit it through online applications, your resume likely will get lost amidst a sea of others.
By pushing your career muscles to do more each and every day, you will gain career strength and momentum and be able to lift yourself to new levels of progress. Though the day-to-day rigor should be expected to stretch your muscles and stir up a bit of pain, by getting into a rhythm of career exercise, you will find moments where the career endorphins place you into autopilot, making the day’s experiences both productive and joyful.
By Jacqui Barrett-Poindexter, Master Resume Writer