Reprinted with permission from ITintheD.org.
We gave you The Ten Commandments of Networking.
We even gave you The Seven Deadly Sins of Networking.
After using those as the foundation for our speaking engagements over the last few years, we noticed that it was time to change things up a bit.
Oh sure, networking is still a very core and crucial thing you need to be aware of and working on, but networking is only one piece of the puzzle when it comes to finding a job.
And so…yea, verily…we walk down from the mountaintop again with these fifteen…oops…ten…TEN commandments of job search…for all to obey…
Just like our earlier notes, let’s get a few things clear, up front, and out of the way before we begin.
We are not actually prophets.
Neither are we ninjas, gurus, life coaches or even “experts.”
We don’t claim to be, and we don’t want you to think we’re claiming to be, either.
We’ve just screwed up enough times over the course of our respective careers and have little to no reservations about sharing those mistakes that we compile documents like this from time to time for you to hopefully pay attention to. We kind of look at these like we do when we tell our kids not to eat the Play-Doh, or to not throw their favorite stuffed animal in the bathtub twenty minutes before bedtime when it will have no hope of drying before said bedtime happens and a fit is thrown because its in the dryer and…
…you get where I’m going. We put these out here because we hope to keep you from making the same mistakes we’ve made over the years. Because it hurts us to see you make them, and instead of pinching the bridge of our collective nose and shaking our heads in exasperation…we sincerely hope that you’ll read these, take them to heart, and use them to make your life easier.
Now put the fork down and step away from the light socket. It’s time for some more wisdom from the cranky old guys in the room.
COMMANDMENT I: Thou Shall Understand Priorities
Whether you realize it or not, you have a job right now.
That job is to find a job.
Let us say that one more time for proper emphasis: your job…when you do not HAVE a job…is to FIND a job.
That means you get out of the recliner. You get out of bed. Now is not the time to be lazy.
Get up. Take a shower. Get yourself into the same mindset as if you were starting that awesome new job today…because that’s the end goal here. Finding that awesome new job to start…and it’s not going to appear during a commercial break between Judge Judy segments. While it might make you feel a little better about yourself, watching a marathon of Honey Boo Boo episodes isn’t going to pay your mortgage.
If you think that by submitting resumes online for an hour that you’re accomplishing something, you’re not. LinkedIn is your friend. Real life is even more of a friend. Reach out to your connections. Realize that you need help, and that asking for it is what you’ve been working on building that network for, after all.
COMMANDMENT II: Thou Shall Figure Out Thy Message
We don’t care how desperate you are, realize one major truth: you are not everything to everyone.
You need to have a clear, clean and concise message.
Decide who you are. Decide what you are.
Are you a developer? Are you a project manager? Are you a tech lead? Are you a front end designer? A back end developer?
If you don’t know who you are and what you are, then how are you ever going to be able to convince someone else to give you a job doing anything?
Know what you want and be firm in your convictions…even if what you want changes on a daily basis. It’s okay to go through a process of figuring things out, but always be confident. We get it – it’s hard. Your self-confidence has been kicked in the gut by a mule…there’s no time for that now.
Along with being confident – stay positive. You know that whole series of entries we have out here called “The Dating Corollary” that are all about how networking, job hunting and dating are a lot alike? Bingo. Nothing is a more effective repellent than desperation. Be confident in who you are, your skills, and what you have to offer…and this process will be a lot easier on everyone. Especially you.
COMMANDMENT III: Thou Shall Be Prepared
Treat every interaction you have every day as if it were a job interview.
Remember what the first Commandment was? Your job is to find a job, and that means you have to always be ready.
Always have business cards on you, no matter where you’re going. Simple ones you printed off at home. Free ones you got through Vistaprint. Doesn’t matter where or how you get them…get them. And carry them. Always.
You never know when that stop to drop the kids off at school is going to turn into a random conversation with one of the moms dropping her kids off on the way into the office…an office where there are job openings. That she happens to be hiring for at the moment. That you happen to be a perfect fit for, by the way. And no, she doesn’t have her cards…and wow, she’s really got to run before she’s late for a morning meeting and neither one of you has a pen so you’ll try and remember her name and number and oh if you’d only had those stupid business cards made that we told you to get…
And while you’re doing those cards, make sure you have a normal sounding email address. You are not “email@example.com”. You’re not. Get a nice, normal, clean and fresh email address at GMail if you need to, and you put that on those cards.
Get that LinkedIn profile updated. Keep your cell phone charged. You are always available for a chat, an in-depth conversation, or…even better…an interview. Don’t miss calls. Don’t be away from email for entire days on end. Be prepared…and stay focused.
COMMANDMENT IV: Thou Shall Fixeth Thy Resume
There’s a reason why we have Bad Resume Guy and Bad Resume Guy 2 out here – even though we constantly hammer on the importance of networking, at some point, someone’s going to want to see your resume.
So for crying out loud, make sure it doesn’t suck.
Remember that there’s no such thing as a “perfect” resume – just open a template and follow the instructions in those two Bad Resume Guy entries and you’ll be off to a great start.
Make sure you have your accomplishments highlighted – did you exceed quota? Did you deliver projects on time and under budget? Did projects you were responsible for launch with fewer defects than anyone else’s? Call them out. These are your talking points during an interview, and should be your quick talking points during an informal conversation as well.
Commandment V: Thou Shall Giveth…In Order to Taketh
You’ve got some free time on your hands, so you might as well put it to good use.
Companies like to see that a potential candidate is not only strongly talented, but also has a civic mindset as well. Being helpful, being involved, and getting engaged with local community efforts and charitable organizations is a great way to do just that.
Offer to help the church update their website that hasn’t been touched in three years. See if a group like Operation: Kid Equip needs help in their warehouse packing boxes up for shipment out to families with kids who need supplies. Call Habitat for Humanity and see if there’s a project you can dive in to. Check with a local shelter and ask if they need volunteers.
Things like that will help set you apart from the competition…while keeping you busy and your mind off of your own circumstances for a bit. And who knows? Maybe through one of those initiatives just might be where you make the connection that leads to a new job.
Don’t be pushy – ask, but don’t annoy. Offer, but don’t intrude. And don’t overdo it – you still need to pay attention to the earlier commandments, too. You have to still be available for interviews. You will still need to take a call from a recruiter. Helping others is great…but you still need to help yourself, too.
COMMANDMENT VI: Thou Shall Utilize Social Media Properly
If you’re looking for a job and have your resume out there, you’re probably being googled as you read this.
Remember back in Commandment III when we told you to have a “clean” email address? Here’s another good use for that – build yourself a nice, safe, clean Facebook account that’s free of party pictures, your political rants, your gun collection, or anything else that a prospective employer might object to for some reason or another.
You can actually take the advice we put out there for dealing with stalkers or other odd situations online here, too.
Lock your “real” profile down, and make sure that clean email address, clean Facebook profile, and clean everything else is all that someone can find about you easily.
Hop into conversations on LinkedIn and start engaging with people there. Find people and trends on Twitter that you can maybe chime in on a relevant basis with…but, again, don’t overdo it.
If barbers can find new jobs via Instagram, then you can use social media to help you as well.
COMMANDMENT VII: Thou Shall Knoweth Things
It doesn’t matter if it’s over coffee or during a formal interview…knowledge is power.
If you’re meeting with a friend for coffee because she works where you want to work, do a little homework beforehand. Sure, it’s a meeting with a friend, but even friends judge you on a regular basis. Show a little effort and initiative, and it’ll do wonders for leaving an impression.
Score an interview? Same thing. Google the company to find the latest news about them.
When someone asks why you want to work there, talk about the challenges you’re looking forward to taking on, the opportunities you see in their market space, or the interest in the industry…anything but “to have a job”. That isn’t the answer.
That’s never the answer. At least not in public.
COMMANDMENT VIII: Thou Shall Not Lie
It’s a small world. Don’t learn that the hard way.
No matter how desperate you get, no matter how frustrated you become…now is not the time to “get creative” with your resume.
Stick with the facts, and don’t start making stuff up just with the hope of getting your foot in the door.
Because they’ll find out.
And you’ll be gone.
And they’ll start talking to others about you…and that’s a situation you never want to be in.
You can recover from a lot of things, but having a reputation for lying on your resume is a really hard one to recover from under any circumstances.
It’s okay that you’re just trying to break into the industry. It’s okay that you took some time off to care for a sick parent. You just have to be ready to address those situations during those conversations you’ll be having, and overcome them with the self-confidence and positive nature that you remembered we told you that you need to have at all times.
COMMANDMENT IX: Thou Shall Lather, Rinse and Repeat
Jobs and relationships can both disappear in the blink of an eye, so always be doing everything you’ve read so far on a regular basis.
Take 10 to 15 minutes per day to keep up with LinkedIn. See what connections are posting. Check out who just got a new job. Look at job postings.
Make friends with every recruiter that you can. Reach out and make new connections.
Keep hitting networking events.
Don’t stop volunteering.
Keep your resume updated, flexible and fluid.
Athletes aren’t the only free agents in the world – only you will look out for you. You probably already realize this, given that you’re looking for a job after all…but it bears repeating.
COMMANDMENT X: Thou Shall Follow Up
This is probably the most important part, and yet the part that people forget more often than not.
Thank people for their time.
Send a follow up note.
Fire off a LinkedIn connection request.
Have solid references that you’ve asked to be your references and will actually be good references for you at the ready, and send those along with your follow up thank you note.
No matter how much you think you crushed the interview, don’t assume you have the job…until you have the job. Budgets evaporate. A better candidate comes along. The nephew of the hiring manager suddenly needs a job. Anything can happen, and so until you’re actually sitting there filling out your W-4 and trying to remember how many dependents to claim so that you get the biggest refund at the end of the year…keep looking. Keep asking. Keep reaching out.
Follow up on a regular basis…but not so much so that you become an annoying psycho who always gets routed to voicemail. If the recruiter says “call me next week”, then call next week. Not the next day. Not two days later…next week.
That’s all for this time. Good luck, and go read something else, particularly the Seven Deadly Sins of Job Search if you haven’t already done so. Want a copy of this to send around? Here’s the PDF version of our presentation to give you the high level talking points: Detroitnet_10Commandments_Job_Search.
Dave Phillips is one of the founders of a nonprofit networking group in metro Detroit, Mich., that has helped more than 700 people find new jobs by hosting networking events, providing advice through its blog and a weekly radio show. Read other entries or find out more.