Monday, August 02, 2010

How I'm Getting Through a 'New Normal' Job Search, pt 1.

I have begun a very quiet job search.
(Though, how quiet is it when I'm talking about it on my blog?)

This is the first time I've begun a search while in a current position and it feels different; rather than feel relaxed and carefree, there is an urgency that didn't exist before. Before, my job search had always been precipitated by a monstrous external event like a lay off; back then, I'd reconnect with a recruiter (this was when I was in admin) and within a month or two, I'd have a handful of interviews and then have a job.

This time, I'm searching in anticipation of a monstrous external event.  To be honest, if anyone is working in direct service non profit, I think now is the time to start translating your non profit experience into a private enterprise context where you can.  (Especially if you live in a state with a horrific state budget and the human services sector is looking at big cuts, like California or Illinois.) In Illinois, at my Large Women's Non Profit, we are anticipating at least another 10-20% budget reduction, if not higher. In my position, I represent pure overhead - I am on the bubble.

So I need to get ahead of that, if I can.

Job searching while panicked is never pretty - or effective. Currently, the average length of a successful search is 9 months. My self-imposed deadline is much tighter than that. To hold off the panic as long as possible, I've begun to apply some of same techniques of my job to my current search:

Landscape Assessment - Who do I know? What opportunities are out there? What opportunites aren't out there, yet, but I need to be positioned for? Where do I want to go? How long do I realistically have for this search?

Qualifying/Cultivating Targets - What is the quality of my network? Which is the faster, most efficient path toward a new opportunity? Who are the people who will give me needed guidance and/or leads, or other information? Who will I need to 'tickle' in order to let them know I'm out here, and what will these conversations need to sound/look like? What do my targeted orgs lack that I'm willing to contribute?

Making the Ask - What exactly do I need to ask my network? More than contacts (or referealls to other contacts), what information do I need to adk for in order to make my search more targeted? What is my messaging?

I don't pretend that being well-prepared is all one needs. By no means.  But the hardest thing about job searching is the mental game. It is so easy to become dispirited and filled with disappointment, and being organized (for me) is a way to keep the search focused, measurable and targeted.  I do not want to reach the place where I'm sending my resume everywhere.

Other things I've done to be organized and systematic about my approach:
On Google Docs, I've created spreadsheets, contact sheets, strategic relationship maps.
And I'm constantly revising my resume. 

The most important thing I'm doing (it's a constant process of navel gazing):
Really asking myself what I want my professional future to become.  Who do I want to be now?
What is the stretch opportunity?
What are the values I want this next move to embody?

More on that later, though.

How are you handling the 'New Normal' Job Search?


ArtemisWinter (Diana) said...

I've only been technically unemployed (underemployed, actually, as I still have my pays-nearly-nothing part-time adjunct position) only since mid-May, but have been searching for a new full time position for almost a year. I moved from Chicago to Grand Rapids, MI in late August of 2009, and started searching for jobs then. I'm an attorney, and have broad experience, a solid resume, and impeccable references. It doesn't matter. I have had a mere handful of interviews in the past year. For a long time there were very few listings at all (and I'm looking at all avenues: Firm, corporate, public interest, government, academic - I have targeted resumes for different types of listings). Now I'm starting to see a few more listings, but it's still sparse. I network almost everywhere I go, reach out to any and all contacts I have, and try to keep my head up It's disheartening at best, and soul sucking at worst.

Anonymous said...

I have nothing positive to say. I was briefly underemployed and have now been unemployed for two years. I was a new college grad, so I have few skills to market. I've applied to jobs where I have legitimate experience but haven't even received an interview. I've blanketed ANY job I might be want with resumes, I've constantly reworked my resume and cover letter, and I've exhausted the small network I have. I'm truly at a loss.