I have a client who is very anxious to leave his current job. He works 60 hours a week and is grossly underpaid. He called me this week to discuss his job search. His problem is not uncommon: How can I find time to look for work?
In addition to his professional duties, my client and his wife have three young children. When he’s not working, he’s often driving a child to some sporting event or a sleep over. He also helps his wife with upkeep of the house, cleaning and cooking. He feels trapped and sees no way out.
I worked with him to set up a schedule for his job search. It’s not set in stone from day to day or week to week, but the target is to devote 10-15 hours each week to finding a new job. Some weeks he many only put 5 hours toward his goal. Other weeks, it might be 20 or even 25 hours. We also set a goal of 5-10 significant actions per week. This means applying for jobs, networking calls, or networking at industry events.
In most cases, the job won’t find you. It takes time, effort, and patience to make the transition, especially if you’re going to find the kind of job you really want. Hold yourself accountable. Track your time and what you are doing. If you are consistent and focused in your job search, your chances of landing the kind of job you want are very good. The first step is to manage your time and make it work for you.
The men who signed the Declaration of Independence put their lives on the line. They knew that their freedom required the courage to take a great risk. Changing jobs is not quite as drastic a change or risk, but it does take some courage. If you're unhappy in your current job or want to take a different course in your career, reflect for a minute on what happened on July 4, 1776. Change is never easy. It involves courage and risk. However, if you're not will to take those chances, nothing will change. Think about your career in this terms.
Happy Fourth of July.
Clients will frequently tell me that they’ve found a great job. That’s half the battle. A job description gives you an idea of what you’d be doing at a given company. It cannot help you with a bigger issue: the people you’ll be working with. A perfect job on paper can turn into a nightmare if your new boss is a micro manager or your co-workers are dysfunctional. When you interview, pay attention to the personality projected by your prospective boss. If possible, ask to meet your co-workers and get a feel for who they are and what they would be like to work with. Take the time to evaluate all aspects of a potential employer, especially the people you will be working with
The media is often overly negative in talking about the job market. Sometimes I fall into the same trap. Yesterday I talked about jobs being lost to automation, which is a big problem. However, there is another side to the story. In just this week, I have worked with clients whose jobs were created by new technology. One person was a social media community manager. The other worked on Cloud technology and software that is not stored on our computers. While it is important to criticize problems caused by technology, we also need to recognize that some jobs will be created by advances in technical systems. One way to win the job game is to find a way to take advantage of those changes
One of my clients is an at-home parent, we’ll call her Betty. She was returning to work after spending 8 years raising a child and working part-time. Betty obtained work with several companies, but nothing fit. She worked part-time in a project management position and liked the company. But her supervisor told her over a year ago that she would probably never be hired by the company. Betty never finished her undergraduate degree, which most jobs at this company require.
Then no turned to yes. Betty emailed me today to say that the company she thought would never hire her full time has made an offer, a very nice offer. What changed? Betty kept doing her job well. Upper level managers saw her skill and dedication, and they rewarded her by making an exception. She will be the only manager in her department without a college degree.
There is no one way to find a job. Companies with rigid policies sometimes change those policies or make exceptions. What happened to Betty is very much the exception, not the rule. But it’s important to be ready to take advantage of such opportunities. I wish Betty nothing but success, and I cheer her company for having the strength to make an exception for an exceptional person.
I just received a call from a client who has taken an executive position with an international corporation. Her job search took more than a year, which might sound like a long time. However, in this client’s case, it made sense. She was looking for a specific type of position in one industry. Such opportunities do not open often. My client was successful because she was patient and focused in pursuing the kind of work she wanted to do
This story is a model for a good job search. Don’t wait to be laid off to start looking for work. My client was employed throughout her search. Having a job gave her the financial security to be selective about the job she was taking. She could take the time needed to network and wait for the right opportunity. We can all follow this model by being proactive in managing our careers. Know what you want to do as a professional and keep pursuing that goal.
When many people hear networking, they only think about finding a new job. In reality, networking is a great way to manage your career and help others manage theirs. One way that network contacts can be resources that enable us learn more about salaries and benefits offered by potential employers.
My clients in nursing often are the best informed about what employers offer. They work together at different hospitals, and they share information, which enables nurses to make better decisions about where to look for work. They also tell each other which employers treat their workers well and badly.
How can you obtain similar information? Get involved in industry associations and groups. Meet people at networking events and talk to them about their careers as much as you talk about your own. As people in networks become comfortable and trust each other, they start to share very important information. Get to know people who can help you get the information you need to make good career choices.
In a recent post, I described a client who is being laid off because of a trend to make employees buy their trucks and routes. We could debate this managerial strategy. As I wrote, I’m not a fan of making employees carry most of the risk. However, my client faced a different, more immediate problem. He needed a job.
My client assumed that that all trucking companies were following the same model. Maybe more are, but not all. We quickly identified four companies that pay drivers as employees and do not require that they own their trucks. I also talked to him about other ways he could use his skill as a driver to earn a living.
My client’s initial problem was that he faced a career roadblock without thinking about alternatives, ways to work around a problem. In the face of job loss, most of us go through a similar type of despair or denial.
What should you do if you or a friend are facing a career roadblock? First, analyze the situation calmly and rationally. Ask this question: What kind of employers need my skills? Make a detailed list of your professional skills and start thinking about what kind of industries and companies employee people with those skills
Another good way to get around road blocks is to talk with people you’ve worked with in the past, especially supervisors or managers who appreciated your work. Don’t ask them to help you get a job. That’s a big turn off. Instead, ask them for advice. What skills do they see as your strongest? Where do they think you should look for work? Do they have any insight about how you might change careers? Humans love to give advice (especially bloggers). Take advantage of that resource.
There are other ways around career roadblocks, too many to list here. The key is to recognize that you are stuck and find a way to move forward. Keep a positive attitude and stay open to new ideas. For many successful professionals, a career roadblock offers an opportunity to find a new, better job. The first step is always to believe in yourself and know that you can move forward.