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Time as a Career Resource: How Not to Squander It

As we fall into the autumn months, I believe it’s timely to revisit job search and career strategies that are at the heart of an effective, meaningful effort. As such, and in collaboration with my colleague and Career Collective co-founder, Miriam Salpeter, and a group of prolific careers bloggers and friends, I introduce my article contribution. This month’s collective topic is favorite career search resources. Please visit my colleagues’ posts on the same topic, which will be listed at the end of this blog post on Tuesday. You may also wish to follow us on Twitter via the hashtag #CareerCollective.

Time is something that people can spend or waste, wisely invest in productive activities or squander in questionable pursuits. ~ via TeachersMind.com

Photo: KenyonReview.org

Two of my favorite resources for job seekers are time and intellectual capital. Often, the roiling waters of career transition stir up an exaggerated sense of urgency – compelling job hunters to rush to find the safe shore of a new job. Unfortunately, with no compass to guide them, many job seekers continue to be tossed about in the raging job search waters without a life raft sinking further into the abyss.

With anxiety piquing at possibly life-time highs, a job seeker’s end goal to land a job often clouds their better judgment, averting them from the most strategic and traction-able path to achieve a new role. Folks whose every day career lives are methodical, analytical and well prepared suddenly behave erratically when thrust into job search, scrambling to hurriedly pull together mechanical-sounding and duties-filled resumes dotted with the requisite percentages and dollar signs.

Devoid of depth and breadth, and unfocused, these career chronicles do little to equip job seekers for a meaningful job search that speaks to a hiring manager’s needs.

A haphazard set of job search activities often follows, including posting this lackluster resume to dozens of job boards, emailing to any advertised job posting that looks remotely applicable, emailing all the contacts in one’s database with an “I’m on a job search” email and, a “Here’s my resume — please help me” message and Tweeting random, “I’m unemployed, please hire me” tweets that only serve to turn off hiring influencers.

Instead, I encourage job seekers to slow down and carve out several hours of their valuable resource, “time,” to be introspective, to write out a plan, to etch out action steps and timelines. If this means investing in a career resume strategist or coach to shepherd them through it, then locate and hire the best possible career consultant or coach resources. Click HERE for Career Management Alliance’s membership directory of trained and experienced resume writers and coaches.

If hiring a career professional is not an option, visit Amazon.com by clicking HERE, and invest in career books and other written guides that will lead you in creating and executing a thoughtful, pragmatic plan. Many on this Collective have authored books on career search strategies. Type in keywords such as “careers, career search, career coach, resume, resume writer, interview, interview coaching” and begin reading snippets and testimonials. Order one or two books, download on your Kindle, etc., and begin reading and doing!

Now, before Launching That Plan, a Critical Step That Is Arguably the Most Stumbled Upon Step in Job Search Must Be Addressed: Brainstorming and Introspection

  • First, identify and be able to clearly articulate in just two or three sentences the type of opportunity you wish to target. Start by researching sample target positions using easily accessible job board resources like LinkUp (CLICK HERE) or Monster.com (CLICK HERE). Don’t make this part too difficult; just start researching jobs and then perhaps do a Word cloud to see what key language, requirements, etc. are repeating themselves in those postings. Do you fit those requirements?
  • Be realistic. If you are qualified, great, then positioning yourself toward those roles will be made easier; if you’re not sure, then brainstorm transferable achievements and activities you performed from which you can “tease out” the specific traits that map to those requirements. Can you build a compelling story for the hiring manager that, though you may not have exact required experience, you have compelling transferable experience? If so, then do. If not, then look further. Do not set yourself up for failure by targeting un-reachable jobs.
  • Not ready to clearly articulate your target opportunity? Some would suggest career assessments – I agree. One such assessment company, Profiling Pro can be found HERE.  This is not my area of expertise; I usually refer clients to a career coach who specializes in guiding job seekers to a clearer focus. Many coaches can be found in several great resources, including Career Coach Institute, by clicking HERE.
  • Now, create a focused “headline” for your target job. This might include  your functional career area (e.g., operations or technology or finance, etc.) and industry (e.g., pharmaceutical manufacturing or retail, etc.) with an area of performance talent / expertise. As an example: Business Analyst / Project Manager / Process Improvement professional in the telecom industry who helps companies solve process issues with development. My website, CareerTrend.net provides resume samples as resources for headlines and other career language and design strategies, HERE.
  • Don’t worry about limiting yourself with this headline target. Nothing in job search is set in stone. But you must start with a target, even if it becomes a moving target. You hold the wheel of your ship and can adjust your sails accordingly, but you must first create some sort of destination to bolster your process.
  • Now, leveraging a few more hours of your valuable resource, “time,” tap into another great resources, your Microsoft Word program and create a document called, Challenge/Action/Results. Start with your most recent position and just begin brain dumping.
  • What would not have happened if you had not been a contributor on your team, in your department, in your division? What tasks wouldn’t have completed, what projects would have been stalled, what revenue wouldn’t have been netted? Start with the outcome (results) first and then back into the challenges/problems you faced and then the actions you took (or your team took) to burst through the barriers and get to the finish line.
  • You aren’t getting paid for “responsibilities for;” you are financially rewarded for helping your company make money – either directly or indirectly – show the reader how you did it! Tell your story! Take the right amount of time to really think through and explore these things
  • Now, organize your achievements by value. What are your areas of value? For example, are you a strategic thinker? If so, what does this really mean, and how do you exhibit and provide bottom-line impact to your company via your strategic thinking? Do you rally teams to buy-in to your vision for an expanded marketplace via ABC technology? Then, do you elicit specific product marketing and sales plans that are executable and that, at the end of the quarter, move profits from single to double digits?
  • Aw, now we’re getting somewhere – a tangible value that you can transfer from your past experience to the needs of a company struggling with flat-line sales and stagnant market share. Trace YOUR story across the story of your target company – make them GET that YOU GET them.

See where I’m going with this? You’ve got to tap into that resource goldmine of intellectual capital that only YOU have access to – no one else, and take advantage of another valuable resource, TIME. And even if you feel that you don’t have the time, you must MAKE the time.

The number of job seekers who knock on my virtual door after weeks, months and sometimes even a year into their job search wishing they had slowed down, taken the time and conducted a more introspective job search process BEFORE hitting the streets are too many to count. Stand apart from the pack by determining early that investing your most valuable asset, “time” is important, and tap into your intellectual capital. Unearth your unique value and align it with your target audience.

Now, let’s get going. Time is a-wasting! 😉

By Jacqui Barrett-Poindexter, Executive and Professional Resume Writer and Career Strategist

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Here is what the other Career Collective bloggers are saying …

If your industry does not participate online, you can lead the way, @Keppie_Careers

6 Ideas to Put In Your Toolbox, @WorkWithIllness,

Your Best Job Search Resource? You!, @WalterAkana

In a Job Search, Knowledge is Power, @barbarasafani

Jump Start Your Job Search Now!, @resumeservice

Favourite Resources for Jobseekers, @GayleHoward

The Best Job Search Tool Ever, @careersherpa

Find What You Do Best, Know Your Stuff, and Connect, @chandlee

27 Recommended Blogs for Entry-Level Job Seekers, @heatherhuhman

Invaluable Resources for Job Search Success, @heathermundell

Favorite Social-Media Resources for Job-seekers, @KatCareerGal

Canadian Resources for Job Seekers, @EliteResumes @MartinBuckland

A Self-Empowering Job Search Resource, @KCCareerCoach

Covering your bases: 5 ultra-useful online career resources, @LaurieBerenson

Favorite resources for Job seekers, @DawnBugni

Top 3 Resources for Job Seekers to Position Themselves as Experts and Increase their Visibility, @expatcoachmegan

Favorite Internet Resources for Jobseekers, @ErinKennedyCPRW

The Facts Behind Why LinkUp Is the Most Revolutionary Job Search Engine Available to Job Seekers, @GLHoffman

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