Looking for new opportunities – half a dozen things you should start doing right now
When I am looking at my LinkedIn feed, there are saddeningly many profiles who are “looking for new opportunities”.
Many of those people are harnessing the power of the platform and their contact base to find new work. This is good, and friends are usually inclined to help.
What surprises me, though, is that even people who title themselves “marketing and communication specialists” or something similar, seem to forget their specialisation when they should market themselves.
Instead of just listing your previous positions, your education, what type of work you want, where, in which types of companies and in which kinds of roles, you might consider this.
1. Face reality
Being out of a job, especially if it has happened suddenly, can be a great personal tragedy. However, don’t take it for granted that anyone else is interested in your predicament. You, and no-one else, are obliged to make it better for you. Then again, know that it’s not your fault. People get hit by layoffs all the time. It’s just shitty luck. Time to do two things: focus on your necessities and put an end to all luxuries. Then don your marketing and communication hat.
2. You’re the product, now sell it
You’ve probably seen too many marketing pieces yourself that only list product features and talk about “we” rather than “you”. If you’re looking for a job, you are the product. How many buyers do you think will bother to match your features against their needs? Instead of features (your skills and qualifications), give them benefits (how they will do better if they hire you). The skills and qualifications do have a significance, of course – not as the spearhead of your message, but as proof of your being able to deliver the benefits you promise. Answer the employer’s questions “What’s in it for me” and “Why should I hire you”.
3. The mountain will not come to Muhammad
Don’t expect a knock on your door and someone begging you to come to work for them. If you’re really the expert you say, you will have heard of Account Based Marketing, aka “market of one”. Companies do it by pinpointing an ideal, desirable customer and tailoring their offer to that particular customer. So, do your homework. Find potential employers you can see lack your expertise. Write to them proactively. You know what you want, find someone who needs just that. Yes, it’s a lot of legwork. Friends and former colleagues can help you here. That “looking for new opportunities” means you actually do have to look.
4. Actions speak louder than words
What your potential new employer wants to know is whether you’ll be any good from his or her perspective. Proof, again, is what you need. Tell them what results you have achieved, not just what you have done or what your job title was. Give those stories an angle that fits the employer’s needs. Update your social account profiles accordingly.
5. Your network can help, but do the job yourself
People are, by and large, helpful. Yet, they don’t want to put their reputation or their social capital on the line. That’s risk aversion, which we’re all born with. Put together a solid sales pitch about yourself and you’ll increase the chances your acquaintances will want to recommend you or give a hint of a potential new job when they see one.
6. Plan B
Is it absolutely necessary to find a job corresponding to the one they laid you off from? What else can you imagine yourself doing for a living? A hobby turned into a profession, or accepting a lower-paid, lower-status job? Going solo as a sole trader? If ever, now’s the time to think outside the box. Ask people who know you for help, you may be too close to yourself.
Finally, look at it this way. A year or two from now, things will have worked out somehow.
If you read this far, how did it make you feel? Helped? Angry? Want to add other advice? The comment field is right down there.