How to Find Your Next Job
This article is Part 1 of a 2-part series on searching for a job. You can find the other article here: How to Decide What Job You Want Next
Looking for your next gig or getting ready to search for your next job can be one of the scariest and most exciting times in your life. Any more, it happens over and over and over again. The latest data is showing that most of us change careers every 18 months! So, it's a good thing to be good at and to have a process for. In this article, we will share the process we have coached hundreds of clients through.
Even though 18 months is the average, for many of you, this will be the first time you've done it in a while.
A lot of what is included below is modified and adapted from what I learned from Mike and Mark at Manager Tools. So I will share links to their greatest hits as appropriate.
The first thing I want you to take away from this email and from any time we spend together throughout this process is that the odds are that you will find your next job from a relationship, not an online job posting. On the one hand, that can feel daunting. On the other hand, you are a very relational person and so that is an asset in your favor as you think about what is next. In addition, it is awesome to see your former coworkers, colleagues, friends, and family at work in your life as you go through what can be a scary transition.
The next thing I want you to understand is that you get to decide what you do next and you can use everything you've learned about yourself -- from your current and previous positions, your bosses and other key working relationships, close friends you see regularly, your hobbies and places you volunteer as well as any talent assessments you've taken -- to help you put it into a brief statement that describes what you're looking for.
The process that has proven over and over again to produce the best results in a job search are as follows:
- Make a list of everyone you know (no fewer than 50)
- Prioritize that list by writing the letter, "A" next to the names of people who you feel most energized to tell that you are looking for your next opportunity, "C" next to the name of people who you dread having that conversation with, and "B" by the names of people who are somewhere in between.
- Write down a brief statement that describes the work you believe you want to do next. Here is an example: "I have been a software Product Manager for many years at a Fortune 500 company in the construction technology industry. After a recent acquisition, I am beginning to put my feelers out to see what other kinds of opportunities exist that might be a new challenge for me. I am looking for a leadership role on a technology team in a stable company in the Midwest earning somewhere between $110,000 - $130,000 per year. Who do you know who might be open to talking with me about the kinds of opportunities I am looking for?" If you can edit that to make it shorter and more accurate then do! Here is a Manager Tools podcast episode all about this.
- Start setting up appointments with the A's on your list. During the appointment, focus the conversation on them and reconnecting and after that, share that statement with them and ask for their help. Ask them for 2-3 names and introductions. DO NOT ask them for a job. Add those names as additional, "A's" on your list. A simple rule of thumb is, "Ask for a job, get advice. Ask for advice, get a job." You don't want to put people on the spot and make them feel like they need to say, "no." People want to say, "yes" and help you and they can always help by connecting you with others. That's the "win" for these conversations. Here is a Manager Tools podcast episode all about this.
- Follow-up with them to make sure they introduce you, then repeat the process with the new people that you added to the list and keep working your way down the list (which will grow exponentially as you meet with people).
- Set a goal for the number of those meetings you can feasibly handle in a typical week given your other commitments and demands. Stay consistent even when you feel like throwing up or giving up.
- Spend 80% of your available job search time on that networking process and cap your time at 20% for online job searching and applying for jobs. Again, you will most likely find your next job from the networking activities. There will be other times when it will feel good to be researching and sending your resume around to jobs you learn about on Indeed.com, LinkedIn, etc. You just need to limit those times to an hour per day or 20%.
- People are going to ask you for your resume. Resumes are not a great tool for you, but you need to have one. Follow the instructions in this Manager Tools podcast for updating yours and carry it with you always.
- Plan for it to take at least one month per $10,000 of annual salary you are looking to earn next. Ask for 20% more from your next job than you are making now. Example: If you currently earn $100,000 per year then you should ask for $120,000 from your next role. For a $120,000 per year salary plan to spend one year doing the above process before you get your first offer.
- Your objective is to get 2-3 job offers at the same time and then to decide between them and pick your favorite. Therefore, you can't only apply for jobs that feel exciting to you, you have to follow every lead until they turn you down, introduce you to other contacts to network with, or you turn them down after you receive an offer. Try not to cross opportunities off your list that come from your network until you get all the way to the point where you receive a job offer. It's good practice, not a waste of time and you also want to be appreciative when people go to bat for you. Don't look a gift horse in the mouth.
- Don't try to do it alone. The whole process, honestly, can feel a little dehumanizing and it will almost certainly be filled with all kinds of self-doubt and periodic imposter syndrome. You are going to want to surround yourself with people in addition to your partner or spouse who have your back and who you don't feel bad about talking to every week and who will encourage you to keep at it. It will suck so you want to start as soon as possible so that it can end as soon as possible. We're happy to be on your team if you want!
- You can use this Google spreadsheet to track your progress if you find it helpful.
Most of the Career Change podcasts from Manager Tools since COVID are located here and they are all great.
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