Reboot Your Job Search In 2008


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  • Thank you to the TLA for inviting me today. A word of explanation about the title. You reboot a system when it is not functioning properly enough to do the task at hand. It does not necessarily mean that the system is going to try anything new; instead, it is a return to a system’s usual parameters where it functions optimally, or ought to anyway. Perhaps I should have called the talk Rebooting or Upgrading your search. Sometimes a system needs improvement, and sometimes just a restart will do the trick.
  • When we are in a position of vulnerability—when our job is in jeopardy, layoffs are happening, or when you are in a full-blown job search—it’s easy to fall prey to insecurities about ourselves. We may feel alone , too old , out of touch with recent technologies, or even depressed about skills we may have once felt confident and competitive about. Gone are the days when people stay with the same company throughout their careers. According to a 2007 survey by, three out of five employees plan to look for a new job within the next three months . Almost ¾ of the over 11,000 surveyed said they had recently updated their resumes. Eight out of ten said they actively searched online job postings while at work.
  • Across the board, the average number of job changes between 1979 and 2004 for people between age 18 and 38 is… 10. (U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics) Statistics also show about 6 career changes, 15 job changes in the course of one’s working life.
  • Source: “ Career Tactics: Avoiding Job Search Burnout” by David Bellm (
  • A job that comes along right away may seem like it’s too good to be true, and in many cases it is. Taking the first thing that comes along is a perilous route, especially if you are coming from a place of anxiety or fear about being employed. When you are in an agitated state of mind, you fail to ask crucial questions, you may take less money for an offer, and you will not be relaxed enough to see the long term implications of any given job and its conduciveness to your career goals.
  • It’s tempting to look at salary and title first as real indicators of what a job will be like. But they do not necessarily equate to a genuine career change in the right direction—especially if it seems too good to be true. The same goes for pursuing jobs for the sake of title or money. Most executives I talk to or work with are at a point in their careers where they realize that it’s not really about the title or money, at least not entirely. However, it is a constant temptation to go after these.
  • Maybe it’s a matter of an industry that is in trouble—the automotive industry, for example. Or maybe you just don’t feel energized about your business’s industry any more. Beware the temptation of taking a new position merely because it is new. Yes, the challenges of a new position can mean growth. But to jump at something new just because it isn’t what you have been doing for the past seven years isn’t sufficient reason in and of itself. In my experience, people who leave an old job they hate for a new one, tend to take along with themselves the very problems that they were trying to escape… meaning, that it’s often their own personal baggage or how they react to the old job and not a problem with the old job in and of itself.
  • Those of us from the world of sales may be more used to having the door shut in our faces. The advice from sales professionals? Every “no” is a step toward a “yes” from a prospective buyer. Recognizing that having many people reject you is not a sign to lose heart but that you are doing what is necessary to get yourself out there is a huge part of the battle. One executive I have worked with recently was feeling beat-up over not getting a response from sending his resume out. But the resume was terrific! It is all-too-easy to feel self-conscious, even depressed during the search. Use your network of friends and coaches to build yourself back up when you are feeling off-track.
  • There are enough rejections in the world to deal with . Try not to interpret a lack of communication for a lack of interest. When you are feeling like it has been weeks since the last time you spoke with a hiring authority or recruiter, try to recall how busy you were within your last job. I guarantee that what feels like weeks of waiting for you on this side of the job search feels to them like just a few days . And while it’s hard to be patient about such things, you won’t be helping yourself at all by acting impatient or upset about a communication lag. I have worked on many, many searches where the candidate felt ready to throw in the towel and give up. Sometime at multiple points in the search. Sometimes those candidates went away, no matter what I said. And you know what? In not just a few, but MANY cases, the hiring authority came back, sometimes even much later, and asked if that candidate was still available . And lest you think that IT executives are immune to this level of impatience, I could cite candidates this year whom I have worked with who withdrew themselves from consideration prematurely merely because they perceived a lack of interest or the client seemed to be taking too long with an interview process.
  • 2007 was the rise of the Career Coach. They have come into much greater popularity. While many companies provide outplacement resources for their executives, many individuals have found that a career coach who provides personalized attention is worth between $4,000 and $10,000, depending upon the level of need.
  • It is normal and healthy to need to take some time off. Just be sure not to fall off the radar screen for weeks at a time!
  • Getting into a routine for job searching is a way to keep up your morale. By putting in your time searching for a new position on a regular basis, you’ll ensure that you won’t be feeling guilty later for not doing your search tasks. That kind of guilt over a period of only days is enough to paralyze even the hardiest job seeker. One executive I’ve worked with gets up and starts work at 8:30 a.m., spending the first two hours of his day just looking for and reviewing job postings. Then, for the next three hours, he responds to recruiters, makes calls to networking contacts, formats and tweaks his resume and cover letter for sendouts. As a result, he has a very regular rhythm that keeps him motivated and feeling like he is making progress towards his goal.
  • Many if not most of you here are or have been project managers in the course of your career. You have planned complex, large expenditure software or infrastructure rollouts for companies you have worked for. Can you do anything less in your search? I’d be surprised if any of you did not have a planned approach to your search. Now is the time to re-evaluate that project plan, especially if you have lost focus or momentum. Why hasn’t your approach been working so far? Have you lost motivation? If so, we’ve talked about ways to address it. Maybe you just need a new way to think about things, or maybe you haven’t heard about or considered some best practice approaches that have worked for others. I will suggest a few approaches here that have worked for others I know. And perhaps this will spark some discussions amongst the group following the presentation.
  • Or, alternatively, Penelope Trunks, who writes a great blog called “The Brazen Careerist” suggests approaching the job search as if you were building your own small business. Treat your career like a sole proprietorship. It’s the long term planning and investments you make that may bear the greatest rewards. The Brazen Careerist:
  • Not only is it a sound strategy to prepare for a long search by arranging your finances appropriately, it will keep you from feeling greater stress and the temptation to take the first opportunity that comes along .
  • In spite of hoping for a short job search, you can only prepare for risk by planning for a long one. A sure way to tire yourself out is to fire your resume out to every opportunity that seems like it might be a possibility, hoping that something works. I call this the spaghetti methodology … if you throw enough pasta against the wall, something is bound to stick, right? Wrong.
  • And just what defines an evenly paced search? A consistent “work” week A defined approach to what needs to be done, whether it is writing a resume and cover letter or attending X number of networking events a week Planning downtime to relax and rejuvenate yourself If you are in the position of needing to search for a new job while in your present job (expected layoff, etc.), it is even more important to consider the pacing of your search activities. Many people in this position find themselves exhausted at the end of a work day, unable to spend what they feel is a quality amount of time pursuing job leads, and ultimately feel burnt out sooner than someone in a “full-time” search. In these cases, it is more important to use search agents, to make the most of your networking time, and to be even more choosy about the resources and recruiters you utilize to bring yourself closer to the job you want.
  • Skills and experience are two very different things, and you need to know both. Knowing your skills may help you to apply them in a new career direction for yourself. Knowing your experience, means being able to articulate how and why you were able to accomplish something in the past and articulate how it might affect what you accomplish in the future. Have you recently inventoried your skills completely? Do you have a CV (as opposed to a resume?). Can you articulate a high level statement of your own value to an organization, then delve into that value through the use of specific examples from your work history? These things take practice , even if you are an experienced speaker. What do you do if you don’t feel like you have a handle on these things? Many libraries and universities have excellent skill inventory assessments. You might spend time with a professional career coach or other trusted advisor. Or you may be the sort of person who is best at coming up with a good self inventory through writing things down after careful reflection.
  • The military calls this process OODA… Observe, Orient, Decide, and Act. It is a loop of activity closely resembling the iterative software development process. For the job search, an effective orientation is to decide first upon where you will find opportunities (job boards, personal network, recruiters), orient yourself with a message by which you will approach opportunities, decide which opportunities to approach first, and then pursue them to closure. It may help to place a framework around your “decide” and “act” phases. One site I recently read recommends the Rule of Thirds approach.
  • suggests applying to three “dream” jobs, three “perfect fit” jobs, and three “fun” jobs that just sound neat. In this way, you are putting a framework around your search. The site also suggests making a time limit, giving that batch of jobs at least 72 hours or a week before allowing yourself to apply for more. The approach is, of course, arbitrary but does put forward at least an orderly way of pacing yourself.
  • Do you have a “top ten” list of target companies you’d love to work for? What do you know about them? Do you have friends there? What about a list of preferred job titles you regularly explore? Are you proactive when you find a company you like? In other words, have you tried networking your way inside? Maybe you have a friend who knows someone there. Maybe you can find some online chatter about what it’s like to work there. You may try calling their sales department—someone there will usually take your call to tell you more about the organization. One job seeker I work with applied for a job at an area company and completely shocked the HR representative when he called and asked for her directly. “How did you know to call me?” she asked. He replied that he had found her name online by doing a bit of searching and then confirming with the receptionist. These are the sorts of activities recruiters themselves engage in to find job leads and they work. Will it make a difference in how you are seen? Absolutely!
  • The tools I am going to suggest here are either free or very inexpensive. Why spend a lot of money when you are out of work?
  • Probably the easiest space you can grab is Google’s on web pages creator ( Depending on what you’d like, however, you can get a free wiki, or set up in any of dozens of online communities at no charge. I will suggest, however, that you buy a domain for yourself. It will make it much easier for people to find you. My blog on Google is That’s a bit of a mouthful compared to, isn’t it? You can buy domain names cheaply at
  • Some executives I speak with view online social networks with trepidation and skepticism. However, I argue that they serve several practical purposes. Online social networks can illuminate your “real” network by showing heretofore unknown connections with potential employers. By the same token, they can help you evaluate the effectiveness of your current network. Because they exist to help you organize your contacts, you are more likely to improve and fine tune your actual network through their judicious use, finding former colleagues and classmates who may be able to help you in your current search.
  • How does a job seeker look like a passive job seeker when he or she is not? Answer: demonstrate an active online presence without posting a single resume to a job board. A part of this is what we have just been discussing—the social networking sites where you can, essentially, post an online resume of yourself in the interests of networking with others. Equally important, however, is the blogging phenomenon. Through blogs, technology leaders have the opportunity to write about issues of importance to themselves, simultaneously showing professional engagement and positioning oneself to be found by recruiters and hiring managers facing similar challenges. Blogging does take time and work and is, therefore, one of those long term investments you make as the “business owner” or your own career. If you’re not much of a writer, consider writing something less ambitious like a white paper that you can post to a personal web site. Finally, if you are not up for either of those things, making substantial comments and offering help in online forums discussing technical or managerial issues can help you to position your online brand, too.
  • What should you track? Fields I’d suggest would be company, position, date first posted, date of resume submission, third party recruiter (if any), next steps, and notes. I am sure many here will have additional suggestions and ideas. Depending upon how complicated you want to get, it’s possible to set up reminders for yourself for each ongoing search.
  • All of the aggregators work in the same way. You input a skill or job title or company name in one field and a city and state OR a zip code in the second field and hit search. The engine then returns its most recent search results. The main sites I like are Indeed and Simply Hired. Indeed has a great e-mail agent. Simply Hired is integrated fully with LinkedIn, so that you can search for contacts who may know someone at the company you’re interested in.
  • Maybe these activities also can look like a viable reason for making a career change – refocus, or give time to a cause or activity you’ve never had time for …
  • Improving your clothing will make you feel better about yourself. The psychological boost will show in interviews. And do not be fooled by the business casual nature of most IT departments. I have had IT executives chided in interviews for showing up with frayed shirt sleeves.
  • Following up is critically important and has a lot to do with job search focus. I have worked with executives who take an interview with me and then do not call me after it is done to let me know how it went. As a recruiter, I am always trying to read people and situations. Now, if a position was not of great interest to you, why did you take that interview in the first place? If you are not calling me, or any hiring manager for that matter, after your interview to provide feedback and express interest, you run the risk of that person or those people thinking the opposite. Why should you write thank you notes? Because so few people actually do it. Hand written notes are better than e-mails, but e-mails are better than nothing. Why write a thank you for a rejection? Because it will make you memorable to the hiring manager if you express gratitude for the opportunity to interview and gives you the chance to say that you’d like to be reconsidered in the event that the current hiring decision does not work out or if something new should open up.
  • Whether you are returning to a baseline of best practices for your search or if some of the things I mentioned here today are new information that help you to improve the way you go about your search activities, I hope that you will take this opportunity to reevaluate your search so far. Realize that you are not alone. You have support. The right job is out there.
  • I wish you a good start today.
  • I have included my contact information on the handout for each of you and would be pleased to be a resource to you in your own search.
  • Reboot Your Job Search In 2008

    1. 1. Reboot Your Job Search in 2008 By Todd Nilson [email_address] Upgrade
    2. 2. Looking for a job?
    3. 3. In IT especially, job changes are a fact of life <ul><li>Average number of job changes between 18 and 38? </li></ul><ul><li>Average career changes? </li></ul><ul><li>Average total job changes? </li></ul>
    4. 4. Solution: The right attitude, strategy, and tools can help you to reboot or upgrade your job search. Attitude Strategy Tools
    5. 5. Be sure you are not job searching out of fear, ambition, or a compulsive desire for “newness.” <ul><li>“Size up” the market </li></ul><ul><li>Know your options </li></ul>Source: “Career Tactics: Avoiding Job Search Burnout” David Bellm
    6. 6. Taking the first job available for fear of being unemployed
    7. 7. Taking a job simply because it appears to be a step forward in terms of title or salary
    8. 8. Taking a job just for the sake of getting into a new work situation
    9. 9. Rejections are part of the job search process. They are stepping stones to success.
    10. 10. Recognize that a recruiter or hiring manager not calling you back is not necessarily a rejection.
    11. 11. Find a support network to help you keep rejections in proper perspective. <ul><li>Family </li></ul><ul><li>Friends </li></ul><ul><li>Recruiters </li></ul><ul><li>Career Coaches </li></ul><ul><li>Outplacement services </li></ul><ul><li>A personal “advisory board” </li></ul><ul><li>Job networking groups like the TLA </li></ul>
    12. 12. Don’t hesitate to take some “wallowing” time, but set a time limit on it!
    13. 13. Reward yourself for goals met… <ul><li>“Go to work” each day for the job search </li></ul><ul><li>Set times for specific job search tasks </li></ul>
    14. 14. Planning a search strategy will make your search less stressful.
    15. 15. Treat your search more like a long distance race than a sprint, even if it does end up being a shorter journey than expected.
    16. 16. Plan your finances wisely, revamping them to accommodate a long search.
    17. 17. Sending your resume and cover letter everywhere gets you nowhere fast.
    18. 18. An evenly paced search should prevent you from running out of steam again anytime soon. <ul><li>A consistent work week </li></ul><ul><li>Defined tasks </li></ul><ul><li>Planned downtime </li></ul>
    19. 19. Know your skills & experience. Articulate succinctly.
    20. 20. Identify your targets, decide how to approach them, and act! OBSERVE ORIENT ACT DECIDE
    21. 21. Rule of Thirds <ul><li>Jobs that are probably out of your league </li></ul><ul><li>Jobs that are a perfect fit </li></ul><ul><li>Jobs that you may or may not fit, but which look like fun </li></ul>Source:
    22. 22. Research a finite number of companies, recruiters, and jobs instead of taking a “carpet bombing” approach.
    23. 23. A plethora of new (free) tools can help you re-engage your search.
    24. 24. Resume and portfolio tools… <ul><li> will help you create online resumes that scan easily. </li></ul><ul><li>An excess of free web space is available, including easy development tools, that can help you set up a portfolio detailing your accomplishments, even if you are not technically oriented anymore. </li></ul>
    25. 25. Social networking tools… <ul><li>LinkedIn </li></ul><ul><li>Facebook </li></ul><ul><li>Pulse </li></ul><ul><li>Jobster </li></ul>
    26. 26. Blogging and white papers can improve your “online brand.” <ul><li>Starting a blog is easy </li></ul><ul><li>Less prolific writers should try white papers </li></ul><ul><li>Online discussion forums – beware but be wily! </li></ul>
    27. 27. There are many free alternatives to Microsoft Excel… <ul><li>… such as Google Documents, Zoho, and OpenOffice. </li></ul><ul><li>… or track up to 10 searches at a time with </li></ul>
    28. 28. Job aggregators take the sting out of long, tedious search sessions for new jobs. <ul><li>Save your online time by using: </li></ul><ul><ul><li> </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li> </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li> </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li> </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Save more time by creating agents that e-mail you each day </li></ul>
    29. 29. Volunteer or consult
    30. 30. Re-educate and re-certify yourself. <ul><li>Return to school for an MBA or just for some additional classes to improve your technical or business knowledge. </li></ul><ul><li>Many technology professionals complain that they never had time to pursue a certification while working; it’s a great time now for you to go get that PMP. </li></ul>
    31. 31. Get a new … wardrobe … haircut … makeover
    32. 32. Improve your job search etiquette. <ul><li>Write better e-mails </li></ul><ul><li>Leave better voice messages </li></ul><ul><li>Follow up </li></ul><ul><li>Write thank you notes, even for rejections! </li></ul><ul><li>Practice your interviewing skills with friends or family </li></ul>
    33. 33. Will you be able to reboot or upgrade your search and find a new, meaningful job that matches your career goals?
    34. 34. Reassess your attitude and approach now to land a great job.
    35. 35. Find renewed hope and a new career step by mastering the search basics and trying new tools and approaches outlined here.
    36. 36. Reboot and upgrade your job search – a system for success! Q&A Todd Nilson, Talent Acquisition Partners [email_address] (414) 312-4233 THANK YOU