Thursday, February 19, 2009

Job? I'd suggest you start looking now.

Just to prove you never have a private moment, I was walking behind two students on the way to the Commons on Tuesday and they were talking about when they thought they should start looking for a job. Their general consensus was that since they were graduating in June and wanted a few weeks off before they started work, they would begin looking "around the middle of May... sometime." They went on to speculate that the internships that they had done would make them hot commodities and they really hoped that they could find a job close to home, so they wouldn't have to relocate right away.

Here's a newsflash. The economy is really bad! In fact, pardon my French, the economy sucks. For years I have been telling students to plan 3 to 5 months for a job search to mature enough to secure a decent career position. That meant that if the two guys above wanted to start work in July, they would have to start an organized, focused job search between March and April. In the current economy, I would say that the search is likely a 5 to 9 month process, so they should have started about three months ago. Following is a quick definition of what I mean by a mature organized, focused job search.

1. It takes about a month for a job aspirant to actually understand the language of recruitment. So, for the first four to six weeks, a job search is largely getting one's resume in order, learning how to read job announcements, and figuring out the best places to find job openings.

2. It is the rare candidate who gets an offer from their first interview. More likely, one will apply for 25 or 30 positions before getting even a nibble. One may have to go to three or four interviews before they become comfortable enough to properly represent their skills and abilities. (Do the math here, if you get one interview for every 25 applications, and you need three or four interviews to "look good," then you may need to apply for 80 or 90 positions... just to be a good candidate.)

3. Too often job candidates shotgun applications to anything and everything. If you really don't want to live in Sheboygan, then don't waste energy on filling out applications to jobs in Sheboygan. (No offense Sheboyganites, lot's of folks don't want to live in SoCal either!) Focus your energy on openings in the geographical area of choice. By the way, this also works for job classification. If you don't want a sales job, don't apply for them.

4. It takes several months to construct the sort of social web that results in folks knowing that you are looking for something and what that something might be. Reach out to family members, family friends, past associates, teachers, etc. Remind them that you are looking for a job and as you better define your career objective, keep them up to date. I'm sure I will write something in the next few days about networking.

5. Follow-up is a necessity. There is a fine line between being and energetic, enthusiastic candidate and being stalker. If you have to err between too little follow-up and too much follow-up, be a stalker.

The bottom line is that this thing is gonna take time and effort... a lot of time and effort.

That's it. All the stuff you should know about when to start a job search.

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