During the holidays, everyone is too busy to think about a new job, but a few months into the new year, employees feeling unhappy and unfulfilled might begin to wonder if there’s something better available. Perhaps something that pays better or that’s more in line with longer-term career aspirations.
Skilled talent have more opportunity than ever before to find a meaningful position. They can put together a wish list and use it to develop a job search game plan, and use their professional connections to see what’s out there. Job seekers can also work with a staffing agency like Vitamin T to connect with the top companies that match their goals and experience.
Start with Where You Are
What is it about your current position that makes you want to find something else? Is it the people you work with, the management style, a lack of opportunity to advance or grow in your position? The first step in finding a job you love is determining what you DO and DON’T love, and then charting your path from there. Remember, no one likes to hire an interviewee who talks about all the things they are running FROM, they want to know what you’re running TO (and will be looking to see if they are a match).
Where Do You Want to Be?
Put together a list of roles at specific companies that would interest you. Put aside for the moment whether the positions are open at this time, just compile a list of the positions that capture your interest and would inspire passion in you. Then look at your list of jobs. What do the jobs themselves, or the companies on your list, have in common?
Develop a clear picture of your goals and put together an idea of what it will take to get there. Set clear intermediate goals along the way. For instance, don’t just set a goal to network more, set a goal to be active on LinkedIn 5 times a week, attend 1 conference a month, or attend a training class in person once a quarter. Create an action plan and evaluate progress along the way toward success. It’s a great idea to actually reach out to people who have done roles similar to the ones that interest you and ask for an informational interview. You’d be surprised how many people will take the time to help a jobseeker find their way.
Networking as a Team Sport
It is no secret that one of the major requirements for creative and marketing professionals is to work well in a team environment. So if networking has you dreading awkward get togethers and forced conversations on Facebook, it’s time to change your perspective on networking.
Building your network is ultimately about finding ways to work together as a team with pretty much everyone. Invite someone out to coffee and try to understand where they are professionally and personally, and where they are trying to go. Perhaps you can solve their problem, or know someone who can. If your focus is just on how the person you are talking with can meet your needs, the conversation is always going to feel forced and awkward, like a used car salesman trying to sell a tiny sports car to a family of five. Focus on making connections for others and your connections will fall into place.
Networking does take putting yourself out there, though. That requires time and energy, and depending on your personality, that might feel daunting. Refer back frequently to the goals you’ve set. Find the motivation to get out there more, not from the excitement of the latest meetup, but from the bigger picture that you are looking to achieve. The fastest and most certain way to put yourself into your dream job is connecting with the people who share your vision and value your contribution. So go find them.
Assess Skills Realistically
It is one thing to amp up your skills on a resume. It is quite another to dupe yourself into believing your own spin. Honestly assess where your skills are, and what skill level you need, to achieve the job you want. There are more opportunities than ever to gain new skills and hone skills to greater proficiency. Look at the list of job opportunities you are interested in. What are the recruiters for those positions likely to be looking for that you need more development in? To best position yourself for the job, polish up on those skills before the interviewer asks you about them.
Don’t limit your focus to acquiring skills particular to your field. Consider improving your softer skills with a seminar focused on teamwork or decision-making, for example. More than ever before, employees have to be able to work well with team members from various disciplines to meet the ever-changing demands of the market.
Leadership training can benefit you as well, even if you aren’t considering a management position. Understanding how management operates, and their perspective on productivity, can help you address a hiring manager’s concerns for the position they are looking to fill. Gaining leadership training also enables you to function more as an influencer in your organization, providing key support to strategies you know are more likely to succeed.
A communications class can improve your ability to navigate a crowded market to make your voice heard. How you present yourself verbally and in writing will go a long way toward making a team function better, or holding it back. Clear communication skills can be the deciding factor between two otherwise equally qualified candidates.
Put a Staffing Agency in Your Corner
The right staffing agency and recruiter has one goal in mind: to place you in a position to excel. It does neither you, the agency nor the company you’re placed with, any good if you are a bad fit for the position.
The first thing an agency like Vitamin T will do is to get to know you. You are more than the sum of your skills and job history. Your interests and aspirations make up a huge part of what makes you a good fit for one company, and a bad fit for another equally good opportunity.
Recruiters also get to know the companies they work with, whereas it can be hard for you to assess in an interview process what the company culture is, or the management style. They will know more about the people currently employed by the company, know how the company operates and whether it would make a good match for someone with your personality and skills. They can also ask questions of the company that you might not be able to and can provide a more complete picture of work environment. Having an advocate whose job is to make sure you love yours is a smart way to go.
Finally, the staffing agency should check back with you and the company to make sure the assignment is working out. You’ve worked too hard to develop your abilities, and life is too short to settle for a job that makes you dread Monday mornings. Resolve to find the job you love this year, and put in the work to make your goals become a reality.