Monday, July 28, 2014

Job Search 101

Today is the start of week 4 at my new job. I honestly can't even put into words how happy I am that I made the switch. For the last 4 years I've been a sales trainer. New hire training, on boarding all that fun stuff. It was a great experience, I learned a lot, but it wasn't me. I was out of my element and just unhappy. Prior to my time in training, I'd always been in management and honestly, that's my esweet spot. You see, I'm a terrible soldier. I need to lead the troops, lead the department, be in charge and responsible for the the direction of the group. When I realized that just wasn't going to happen at my last job, I knew it was time to go.
Side note: My new boss lets me do whatever I want, change all the policies, re-organize the process flow, re-structure everything as I please You name it, I can do it. I LOVE IT SO MUCH.

So, you might think, whoopie do, who cares. You wanted a new job, found one and there you are.

This last job search was really successful. Far more successful than any ones I've done in the past. At the beginning of May I started sending out resumes with a loose goal of being in a new position by July. Almost immediately I started receiving calls. All in all, I sent about 25 resumes, I had interviews (phone and in person) with 7 different companies, received 2 offers and withdrew my interest on 2 (at least one of the 2, I'm fairly confident I would have received an offer.) Here's the kicker, I was technically changing positions. I was only applying for Sales Manager jobs and I hadn't managed people in 5 years. By all accounts, I should have struggled to find something.

By no means am I an expert in the job search but there were a few things that I think made all the difference this time around.

1. Resume - Do whatever you need to do to create a good resume. Show it to your friends, family, church people, whoever you know who has ever seen a resume before, and ask for feedback. Some of those services that charge you to do your resume are pretty good and the rest are scams. Do your research before forking over your money.
  - Don't regurgitate your job description in your resume. I'm interested in your personal accomplishments, not that you're "skilled in MS Word"
 - Don't go crazy with your resume. Keep it simple. Keep the formatting simple, don't use crazy fonts. One of the big things I did this time was to use my standard resume, even though my management experience didn't show up until page 2. I'd used functional resumes in the past and didn't have any luck.

2. LinkedIn - If you don't have a LinkedIn profile, make one. Make one and connect with everyone you've ever worked with. LinkedIn generally has additional job postings that you won't find on Indeed or Career Builder. In addition, LinkedIn often runs specials on their Premium Service. It's $39 a month and you can usually get a code for a free month.

When you sign up for the Premium service, use an old Visa gift card for the credit card number. I have a few Visa gift cards that have $1.37 left on them. I never remember to use them at the store but they're perfect for when you need to enter a credit card for a trial membership. You get your membership and when they try to charge it, nothing happens. That way you aren't surprised by the bill. (This is why I now have a subscription to Amazon Prime.)

The Premium Service will bump your profile to the top of lists of recruiters searching for candidates, tells you how many people have applied and gives you a salary range (super helpful!)

3. Monster and Career Builder are better for entry level positions. Avoid them if you have 5 or more years of experience. Whenever I update my resume on either of those sites, I immediately get inundated with e-mails from insurance agencies and call centers. I've actually scolded recruiters who've called me to be a call center representative. I've trained and managed in call centers, I'm not interested in being on the phones. Sometimes I ask if they've actually read my resume.

4. Network - If you're unemployed or about to be unemployed, tell EVERYONE YOU KNOW. There's no shame in not having a job, but if you don't tell people, they won't be able to help. There are a ton of jobs that never get posted. Your friends can help you find those opportunities and a lot of companies have referral forms for current employees to refer you. You have a better chance of getting to the hiring manager if you have an advocate in the company.

Go to networking events. They're fun, there's usually wine. You meet oodles of people and it's generally a good time. If you're not an extrovert, these can be really difficult but they can also be a lot of fun.

5. Apply for jobs outside your comfort zone - You NEVER know what traits a hiring manager is looking for. I applied for what seemed like 100s of Sales Manager jobs a year ago and got 0 replies. This time the companies who were interested in me were looking for a sales manager with a strong training background. The worst that can happen is that they say no.

6. Be Honest - When you get a call from the recruiter, or a face to face interview, be honest. I really think being completely candid gave me an advantage this time around. When they asked why I was looking to leave training my response was: "Being a trainer for the last 4 years has been a great experience but I want my own team again. I'm tired of training people to have them go off and make money for other people." I told that to the CEO of a company and he said, "Good, if you had any other answer, this interview would have been over."

7. Follow-up - Do your due diligence. Thank the manager you met with, thank the recruiter, all of these people will give you their card. Thank them for their time and don't forget to let them know why you are the best person for the job. If you can, send a hand written thank you note. Since writing notes has fallen out of favor, it really helps you to stand out from the crowd of other applicants.


Most importantly, DON'T GIVE UP! There are jobs out there to be had, you just have to keep looking! Even if you need to take a week or 2 off, don't stop, there will be something out there that's a perfect fit for you!

If you're looking for a job or to change positions, hopefully some of these tips are helpful! Happy searching!

BTW -  I was thinking of offering some resume revision services. If anyone is interested, e-mail me at larabadanes at gmail dot com.

Linking up!
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  1. Great post!

    And way to go on thank you notes. SO many people don't write them adn it's just rude!

  2. Stopping by from B's link up. Love your blog name!!! Great tips by the way-- esp about the visa.


    1. Thanks! When I realized I could use a visa gift card, I was so excited.

  3. So glad the new job is going well and you are happy! What a great and informative post, love it!

  4. great tips! thank you cards are a great idea, I never thought to do that! I was honest in my interview as well, they asked why I was leaving and I said my strengths are admin etc but not sales. I'm not happy there. End of story.

  5. Great tips and congrats on the new job. It is so important to enjoy your job so it is a big deal that you made a change that makes you happy!

    1. Thanks! I might still be in the honeymoon stage but so far, so good!

  6. Great tips! I think thank you cards or emails are very important. They show your interest. Being honest is so important because it can come back to bite you if you aren't honest. We fired someone who lied about their education. Not cool.

    1. People lie all the time in their interviews, it's ridiculous. I have a pretty good BS-meter but sometimes they slip through the cracks.

  7. Great advice! It's always so interesting to hear real-life tips rather than the things you're "supposed" to do.

  8. There is a common misconception among several people that the purpose of a good resume is getting them a job. Sample Resumes