The difference between being busy and being productive during your search
I spend a good amount of time every day talking with people who reach out to me and people who are referred to me for help with their job search. I make time to talk with everyone personally and help in any way I can.
“How is your search going?” This is a common question I ask. I receive a range of responses from “GREAT! I have a bunch of stuff in play,” to “just awful! I can’t seem to get people to see what I have to offer them.” Hmmmmm, is it everyone else’s fault that you don’t have a job? REALLY?!!
The other question I generally ask is “How do you spend your days?” About 99% of the time I will hear some form of “Responding to open positions and searching the job boards.”
It’s easy to be incredibly busy when you are looking for a job. Job boards will suck the time away – and the life out of you – hoping that perfect job will surface and you’ll be the only one who sees it…….need I say more?
There is a difference between being busy and being productive. Just as there is a difference between dribbling the ball and moving it forward (in honor of the Nuggets playoff drive). Let’s explore:
Busy: Spending the entire morning trying new keyword searches on Monster, DICE, CareerBuilder and Linked In searching for new jobs to apply to. No time for the gym – you’ve lost the entire morning and now you have to get ready for your lunch meeting with another guy you met last week who is also unemployed.
Productive: Setting up an Indeed alert for the keywords that ideally describe me and spending 10 minutes moving thru them quickly in the morning. Spending 45 minutes reading local business news to make sure I know what’s going on in town – looking for new companies to research, trends, executive appointments, earnings announcements – there is soooo much great information! The next 30 minutes are dedicated to responding to email inquiries and Linked In requests. Off for a good workout and shower before your 10 AM coffee meeting with someone who works at one of your target companies.
Busy: You found 5 new jobs that might work for you on the job boards. Each of them has a long and involved application process with essay style screening questions. The application asks for detailed work history and salary information. Then, when you get to the end – a magical application review robot tells you that you aren’t qualified for the position because your college degree is in the wrong discipline. You have no idea if the other applications went thru because you don’t receive a confirmation from the company – so you’ll just wait. The kids will be home soon – another day – and no movement.
Productive: Your coffee meeting was amazing! The woman you met with offered to endorse you to the hiring manager for a position that isn’t posted yet – that you’d be perfect for! Now, time to review the Google alerts you have set up on your target companies – WOW! A bunch of great information today. A lot of notes to send to your executive contacts to let them know you’re watching. Also, you received calls on a couple of inquiries you made last week – need to follow up with them as well. Oh, and you have a great business idea for one of the executives you met last week – who knows? Maybe he’ll be interested in meeting with you to discuss it. Just enough time left in the day to plan tomorrow’s attack before the kids get home. Moving the ball forward!
Busy job seekers will always find a way to fill their time with mundane tasks that they THINK are helping them get hired. Productive job seekers will engage in conversations and dialogue with hiring managers that will elicit interest. These people are passionate about who they are, what they know and how their experience will add value to companies. They are very clear about their strengths and precisely target the companies and individuals who want to hear what they have to say. They don’t ask for a job when they meet someone – they have a business discussion. They offer help, ideas, thought leadership and they are well prepared for each conversation. In the end, the productive job seeker “selects” his/her next position – instead of “being selected.” This is a VERY IMPORTANT distinction – wrap your head around it until next month. Move the ball FORWARD!
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