Looking: What Do You Mean When You Are Looking for a Job?

Search for success

Search for success

I’ve been reconnecting with a number of people in my network this week. Some of them are just happy to hear from me and tell me what they’re currently doing, others tell me that they are “looking”. None of them tell me that they need my help finding people to work for them :p.


But what do they mean when they say, “I’m looking and you should let me know if you know of any jobs in [a particular geography]”?

I totally get that people hate moving. That putting your entire life on a truck and carting it across the country for new job is not high on the list of things people really love doing. So people want to stay in the house they are currently in but find a better job, a different job, or simply a job.


But how are they looking?

It used to be that meant strolling down the street and seeing if there were any signs in the local retail shops, but we’re wiser than that now and have educations to put to use. Or we would look in newspapers at the want ads, but those have gone the way of the dinosaur. Some people still look online at ads and think that that’s the same as looking for work, or even, although they don’t apply to them, that it’s a representative sample of what’s currently available out there in their field. It’s not, you know.


Some people think that “looking for a job” is the same as telling all of your current friends and relations that you’re not happy with your current job.

But I must say that if your friends and relations had a job for you you’d already have it. (Perhaps that’s the job you’re not happy with!)


75% of jobs are filled through personal networking. 

But it’s the personal networking with people who don’t know you well, or even don’t know you at all. Yet that is what will get you the job you want. So who are these people you should be networking with? You have a part of the answer. They need to be in your hometown or within a reasonable commute. And they need to work at a company that can use your skills.


So what skills do you have?

And of those, which ones do you want to use in your next job? Are you phrasing these the way the people at the companies you want to work for would phrase them so they can recognize your skills? Are you hiding them all away and packing them tightly into a generic resume for every single possible company that might possibly use your skills?


A job seeker, even a stealth job seeker, needs to be visible online and looking good.

A LinkedIn profile is one easy way to do that, but your industry might have a preferred social media network. Academics generally don’t show up much on LinkedIn. Cutting edge software people probably do show up more on Google+. So be smart and be visible in as many places as your people are likely to see you. Facebook may, or may not, be the right place to be. And those words and phrases that you’ve used to describe your skills need to be on all the places you are online, in well-written, English sentences.

What are your criteria?

Once you’ve done that, you need to think very hard about what you need in your next company. How long should your commute be? How big should the company be? How much travel will you be doing? What should the company be interested in doing next? What size should your team be? Are you interested in a startup? Or do you need a well-established “low risk” company? Do they have enough money to pay you for two years?  Does the FDA like them?  Who are their competitors?


Are you looking by identifying the companies that meet your criteria?

Great! Are you then comparing your current career network with the people who work there? Even better! Are you checking in with them to see if the company they work for is one that you really do want to join? Are you getting to know the people on the team that you want to belong to?


Networking is not begging for a job!

Networking is far more like dating than it is like interviewing. You don’t sleep with them or marry them on the first date! In fact, you need to be networking with everybody but the hiring manager to begin with. Once you’ve decided that you like the company, you like the team, and they have a problem you want to solve, then you’re ready to talk with the hiring manager and possibly interview.

How can you possibly write a resume if you can’t answer these questions? 

And how can you possibly write a resume that can show the hiring manager in less than six seconds that you are the one who can solve his problem, if you don’t know what that problem is or what words he uses to talk about it? All that networking with the team that you want to work with is preparing you to write the resume. Your resume is your advertisement designed to get you an interview. Nobody cares what you do in your spare time until after they’ve brought you on board and they want to know if you can join the company softball team. You will have demonstrated your well-rounded-ness to the people on your department team long before you ever write a resume.  You will have proven that you are already a “member of the tribe” because you can use the jargon they use.

Only the fairy job mother would be able to do that and, unfortunately, I am not that fairy.

So if this is what you mean by looking, and you just happen to think that perhaps I might know of somebody who’s looking for you in your area and with your criteria (which of course I don’t really know because I can’t read your mind), then I am happy to tell you that I don’t know of anybody. The chance of me happening to have been contracted to find someone with your skill set in your area by a company that has your criteria at the time that you want one is so vanishingly small! 

So when I contact you…

So when I contact you because I like you and you’re in my network and I’m curious about what you might be up to these days, it’s not a subtle suggestion that I have a job for you. If I do think that you might possibly fit a role that I’ve been contracted to fill, I will be straight up front with you. I will cut to the chase and let you know exactly what I’m looking for, and ask you if you might be interested or if you might know anybody who would be interested. I will send you the position description. If it is something that you’re interested in, and there’s no guarantee that you will be, I will need to get a fresh new resume, which I will help you craft, based on what I know of the problem the company is hiring to solve.

If you tell me you’re looking and you’re not doing these steps…

If you tell me you’re looking and you’re not doing these steps, I know that you are dissatisfied with where you are for any one of a number of very good reasons, but have not really settled into the work of looking for a new job.

It’s always best to look for a job while you have a job

Of course it’s always best to look for a job while you have a job so that you don’t have to worry about where your next meal is coming from. If you’re currently looking for work while you are working one of those enormously tiring full time positions plus taking care of the family and all the other things you have to do, it’s going to take longer.


You can do all the things above a little at a time and spread out over many weeks

Most of the things I described above, both the identification work and the networking piece, can be done a little at a time and spread out over many weeks. Some of the things I’ve described above only have to be done once or maybe twice. Some things may change on your criteria list; and companies come and go. Your skills will grow so why not record them in your profiles as you develop them. Your network will grow simply in the course of doing your job. The important thing about your network is you have to “not be a stranger”. And you must especially not speak to each person only when you want something.


If on the other hand you are out of work…

You need to be spending between 40 and 50 hours every week doing all of the work above. You don’t have the luxury of one or two networking coffees or lunches a week. Once you’ve identified the people you need to be connecting with, you need to be seeing two or three of them a day, remembering that you are not Oliver Twist begging for a job from someone who can’t give it to you.

Your objective in this networking is first to narrow the list of companies because you can’t be everything to everybody all the time.

Your second objective is to find out what problems each of the attractive companies is currently or will be facing. You have solved a multitude of problems in your career; there is at least one problem you never want to see again!


I’m having great fun finding out where my current network is, from Bali to Zürich, just starting in a new job to just winding up an old one, taking a break or in need of my services.

If you are one of the people who could use some help with the work above, please do sign up for a complimentary 15 minute consulting session or check on my at a glance page for the free and low-cost products and services.

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