There's always room for good, solid people in the workplace. Industries may be different, but there's always a need for good managers. But if you're searching for a job in today's marketplace, you need a plan of attack. The fact is most people are skilled as job holders - but not as job hunters.
Job hunting today isn't the same as it used to be. There are 90 to 100 million resumes floating around the Internet currently, so to stand out you must be creative. The job search has become a marketing problem. Find a way to introduce yourself to companies in the same way they'd introduce a new product, and explore all the avenues of approach available to you. Develop creative marketing materials, including cover letters, short bios and more detailed resumes. And always be aware of the competition, because everyone is in the game today.
Understand, there's no silver bullet. Job searching is a process, so be systematic. Sit down and take a personal inventory that includes a reality check regarding what you really want and what you have to offer, your strengths and weaknesses, what you like to do and what you don't. Then plan how to get in front of those potential employers.
Evaluate your skills carefully. List your goals on paper and seriously consider where you might fit with each employer's needs. Although your professional skills are transportable, you have to be able to repackage them. It might be worth getting professional assistance here.
Sitting on the computer and answering ads won't get it done. You must be proactive. Talk to people. Include people who are doing different things than you ever thought about doing. Ask what they like and don't like about their work. Consider whether you want to change companies, direction or careers.
When you get an interview opportunity, act as though you're very interested in having the job. In fact, talk to the interviewer as though you already have it. Always be truthful. Look people in the eye and tell them the truth - don't embellish things. Falsehoods and exaggerations always will catch up with you. And be fit. This means looking like someone they would be proud to have on their team.
The Search is a Full-Time Job
The process of job hunting is ego deflating, stressful and humbling. But you can't react in public to negative emotions. You must always be enthusiastic, which means act, act, act, act, act. Put on a happy face and don't wash it off. If you have to, go into a closet and cry. Because there's no timeframe for success, getting discouraged is easy. You might have success in two interviews or it might take 10 to get the job done. It might take a few months, but it could take a lot longer. Be prepared for every meeting, because any one of them could be the bell-ringer for you.
Work on your job search daily. Don't get sidetracked by having one interview. The goal is to have two or three opportunities to leverage against each other. It's always best to look for a new job while you're still employed, but that's not always possible. The worst thing to do is to take a vacation with your severance pay, which runs out very quickly.
Everyone knows someone you should know. Most people will help if you give them something they can do. But don't call and say, "I need a job." The first levels of contact generally don't come up with job opportunities. It's the second or third generation of inquiries that provide leads.
You also have to move outside your network and develop a plan of attack. Think about how you can solve the problems companies are having with their businesses, and see if you might be a part of the solution to those problems. Be flexible, and willing to relocate - whether that means geographically, within the same industry or to a new career.
The hardest job a person will ever have is to find another job. But you'll be faced with that scenario a half dozen times or more in your career. Just remember, each day is a new day. And each new person might be the one who'll give you the lead you need to be successful in your job search.
George Stone is the retired chairman of a nationally recognized career-management outplacement firm. He currently works one-on-one managing the job searches of C-level clients.