Q: “What do you want to be when you grow up?”
A: “I want to be a firefighter….
“and a policeman, and a musician, and an astronaut…
“and I’m going to do them all at the same time!!”
When I was a young boy, that was the typical answer I gave to that question (I’d have also told you I wanted to be a super hero as I walked around the house with a large towel around my neck that doubled as a cape). As I grew up, I narrowed that down to two or three things and when I was an adult I focused on one thing (I still have dreams of being a super hero, though).
In my young adult years, I assumed that remaining versatile would be the best way to remain gainfully employed. What I ended up in were jobs that paid the bills that offered little or no satisfaction. It wasn’t until I focused on what I was good at (communications) and decided that I was going to sink or swim in a particular field that things started to go my way.
So what does all of this have to do with you? Allow me to explain.
I’m no LinkedIn guru. In fact, I’m quite the introvert. Still, I’ve amassed a decent network of people in various industries that I can call on for advice or favors. I have no problem tapping my network for people after a conversation like this:
Random Job Seeker: I’m looking for work.
AJ: What do you want to do?
RJS: I’ve been applying for jobs in X field, but haven’t had much luck so far.
AJ: I know somebody that works at YZ Industries, let me make a call/send an email and find out if it’s okay to pass along their contact information.
Having waded through resumes and sat on interview panels, there’s nothing worse than the glaze that covers the eyes after going through hundreds of pages of paper and not finding any ideal candidate. I empathize with HR professionals who have to do this everyday. If I can make someone’s job easier and help someone make a career move, I’m more than happy to lend a hand. What I typically get is this.
Random Job Seeker: I’m looking for work
AJ: What do you want to do
Random Job Seeker: Anything/I’m keeping my options open
A conversation like this probably takes place in all 50 states, every hour on the hour. There are two things that will get a job seeker nowhere:
Wanting to do everything and wanting to do nothing.
Nobody can assist a person without focus. And nobody is going to damage their credibility reaching out to a contact that likely doesn’t match what a company is looking for. If you’re on the job hunt, be intentional with your career path and tailor your resume to the specific industry and job type you’re looking for.
Not sure where to start? Here are a few tips:
1. Utilize keywords
Lots of resumes never make it to the eyes of a human. With so many job seekers on the market and the convenience of applying to jobs online, companies are screening candidates — and screening out candidates — by using keywords. Focus on the language used in job descriptions and tailor your resume to your industry. If your skills match the job description, say so.
2. Network, network, network
LinkedIn and other social media sites are gold mines for finding HR professionals. Contact them. Tell them who you are, what you do, and what you’d like to do.
I once applied for a job at a fairly large university. My application, while qualified, sat for some time. I connected with someone in HR at the university via LinkedIn and was moved to the next phase. I didn’t get the job, but I learned a valuable lesson.
3. Let others know you’re looking for work
The people you know, often know other people. Let them know you’re looking for work and be prepared to send a resume when asked.
Be intentional. Be hired.