“I need a recruiter to find me a job.”

That statement is fairly common, misguided, but common.

career transitionFor the record, recruiters almost always represent employers, not the candidates, and those executives who think that it is a recruiter’s job to find them a new position are almost always disappointed.

Here is another reality. Finding a new job is probably more difficult for the average executive than doing their “day” job because the vast majority of them don’t change employers on a regular basis so are not as proficient with the job search process. That is why there are career transition or outplacement consultants who are paid by former employers to guide executives through what has become a complicated process. Oddly, though, many executives either are unaware of this service, or they do not think to ask when they are being given the bad news. Worse, many employers are loathe to volunteer this benefit unless pressed to do so. This means there are many out-of-work executives who waste valuable time or miss relevant new job opportunities because they are not up to date on what it takes to compete effectively in an era in which prospective employers can, and are, being more selective about who they hire.

I am currently coaching five executives in search of a new position. Two found positions within 90 days using some of the job search strategies they were taught. I think they will tell you that, their success notwithstanding, looking for a new position is tougher today than ever before; there is more involved and it is much more time consuming.

Here are three points we emphasize with our Career Transition clients:

  1. Get organized. This means emotionally, intellectually and physically. Emotional preparation speaks to the need to get past the fact you were fired or, in kinder no-fault terminology, laid off. When this change comes without much notice, there is, of course, shock, which then leads to fear, anxiety and even anger. Before you start your search, grieve, or whatever process you need to go through, before you begin networking.

    Intellectual preparation means that you must come to grips that the way you look for a job today is vastly different than it was three years ago. Get up to speed as quickly as you can to avoid wasting limited opportunities.

    Physical preparation is also important. If you do not have a home office, set one up and be sure you have privacy with minimal background noise. If you have a family, establish some limits while you are working the phones or during those times you are being interviewed.

    Find a database that will help track names and contact information of new networking “friends” and potential employers.

  2. Establish routines. Finding a job is your immediate new job. Most jobs require focus and dedication for you to be successful. You have to discipline yourself to set and keep regular “office” hours. Unless you have a large reputation, do not sit back to wait for recruiters to call. Keep a job search journal, recording names and information from your calls. Do not think you can remember the flow of information that will be generated if you are aggressive in networking.

    Once you have found a job, keep journaling. It is a good habit to get into, recording accomplishments and successes that can be used in future searches to strengthen your case. I also encourage candidates to journal gratitude. Looking for a job is hard, frustrating work. It involves a lot of rejection. It is easy to become discouraged. Journaling gratitude is a remarkable routine that will boost your spirits.

  3. Take care of yourself. I have heard (and seen) the results of not paying attention to your physical health. Gaining weight or decreasing energy will not enhance your physical career brand. Presentation and presence are critical.

    You also have to take care of yourself emotionally. Find someone with whom you can talk or vent. If you keep it bottled up inside that, too, will affect your attitude and your health. This is a marathon, not a sprint.

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