It’s been a year searching for employment. Here are my top 5 lessons I have learned thus far. Take it for what it’s worth.
Networking. Networking. Networking.- This is a no brainer. If you think sitting in front of a computer all day responding to e-mails and on-line job listings will land you a job, you are kidding yourself. Getting out and meeting people, exchanging information and business cards is where it’s at. It’s just as important to network with the jobless as with the employed. Remember, it’s not always what you know, it’s who you know and who do they know.
Dump the elevator speech- While I originally placed value in this, I seldom practice it. It’s much more important to practice good conversational skills rather that rehearsing a canned 30-45 second speech. Seldom will you find yourself in a situation where this will be necessary, even in an elevator. It can come across as scripted, robotic, and insincere. Just be yourself and engage in relaxed two-way conversational behavior.
Remember your manners- After you have dumped the elevator speech, it’s important to remember and demonstrate good manners. Be a pleasant person to be around, don’t interrupt others, check your lengthy agenda at the door, listen to others and be present and engaged, say thank you, and for heaven’s sake set your cell phone to vibrate or mute. Be consistent with all communication methods. Never write anything in an e-mail that you would not say to someone’s face.
Job fairs are a waste of time- The last time I attended a job fair, I drove 30 miles, visited two tables, and left. Total time was about 20 minutes. Job fairs are a complete waste of time. You will stand in long lines with other candidates and be greeted by an HR or staffing representative (corporate gatekeepers). They will accept your resume, conduct a brief chat with you, and throw your resume into a pile with hundreds of others. Your resume will probably never see the desk of a hiring manager. In my opinion, the only takeaway of attending job fairs is collecting free stuff like thermal soda can holders, frisbees and ball point pens branded with corporate logos.
Cherish your freedoms- It’s great waking up each morning with freedom to set the agenda for your day. While this can also be a challenge, it’s liberating and rewarding. It’s great having extra time with family and friends. Having the gift of time to reflect and explore other interests is priceless. This is a great time to volunteer for organizations that interest you. You never know, this might lead to employment opportunities in the future.