For the final in a six-part series, Kate Kerr (nee Hanley) reviews the five main practices necessary to ensuring success with your job search or accelerating your career path.
We’ve talked separately about goal setting, maintaining a calendar, networking, using LinkedIn, and employing lots of persistence in the process of job and career advancement. Today I want to discuss how they all work together. The first thing I want to emphasize is that they’re all equally important and all require consistency. The great thing is that these practices can be applied to other areas of their lives as well.
So how do they work together?
I deliberately order the steps to have a logical, effective flow. The first, of course, is to set a goal and be as specific as possible about what you want. For instance, instead of writing a goal that states, “I want a job,” your intention should be “I will be a graphic designer at X company by December 31, 2013.” Then break down the goals into digestible parts. You should craft your one-year, six-month, and one-month plans for each goal. Outline small goals that, if performed consistently, will lead to accomplishing the larger ones. Without a specific goal, the rest of the steps will lack direction and therefore effectiveness.
And after a goal is set?
Make a calendar and work backwards for your goal. So if you want to be a graphic designer in three months, you need to create a clear schedule of steps to get there. And you need to live by that calendar. One of the first things, of course, is getting your résumé updated and cleaned up. The calendar will be key to promoting consistency in the daily, weekly, or monthly actions that are going to land you the job.
Networking goes hand in hand with that calendar. It’s important to use networking time strategically. Research the various events or networking opportunities to make sure they’re worth your time. They need to be either industry-related or have a good attendance and mix of professionals. Once the research is done, it’s time to fill the calendar with networking events, industry specific events, and informational interviews with the people who have your dream job (or potentially could hire you).
If you’re new to an industry or new to the idea of attending networking events, it might take a few tries, and you might have a couple of misses, but if you keep at it, you’ll figure out the kind of events that work best for you.
LinkedIn can be a good resource for the personal contacts and informational interviews, right?
Absolutely, LinkedIn helps with online networking, providing a warm contact or introduction into a particular company or industry, which is much more effective than cold calling. It’s also a place where people you meet at an event can get a little more information about you or even pass on to someone else who’s looking for exactly what you offer. Once you’ve done some of the footwork, LinkedIn can help keep the networking process going even when you’re busy doing other things.
And now we come to persistence?
Exactly. One of the key factors to success is to just keep going. A job search can feel so futile sometimes. You can go to three events a week, have industry interviews five times, pass your résumé on to a contact ten times, and still, at the end of a week, you have nothing to show for it. It’s so easy to get unmotivated. But like Thomas Edison said, “Our greatest weakness lies in giving up. The most certain way to succeed is always to try just one more time.” In my experience, the number one reason why people fail at any endeavor in life is that they give up – for a variety of reasons. The important thing in a job search or job upgrade process is to keep going.
Any last piece of advice?
I would recommend that people read books that inspire them. Do this to become more informed and stronger in your respective fields, but also to help keep you motivated and to keep your eyes on the goal you’ve set for yourself.