Since I was out of work for 5 very long months, I know the frustration of not having offers, not getting call backs, and thinking more about what happens if you don't get work instead of how to go about getting work. I'm going to publish what I did over the last 5 months, not because it is groundbreaking, but because it led to 2 offers and perhaps someone else will find it useful in their job search.
Clearly Defined the Jobs and Industries for my Job Search
Most of us have held more than one title during our careers. In my case, I have been an engineer, an engineering manager, a program manager, an IT consultant, a manufacturing manager, and a plant manager. I narrowed my search to 3 job titles: plant manager, senior engineer, and program manager.
Additionally, I decided to focus my search on electronics manufacturing, medical, and energy. This was based partially on my geographic focus, but also on factors such as future growth, opportunity, and match to my background.
Focused my Search Geographically
I spoke with my spouse, and decided I would only look for jobs in Texas. Specifically, I would look in Austin, Houston, San Antonio, Dallas, and McAllen, and by that order of preference. Before I narrowed my search, I was getting calls from recruiters all over the USA. If I had not narrowed my search, I think I would have been overwhelmed with non-productive inquiries.
Revised my Resume to Match Career Goal
This one might sound simple, but I took my 3 job titles and created 3 different but similar resumes. I then created 3 geographic versions of each: one with my current address, one with a family member's address in Houston, and one with a family member's address in Austin. The math is easy: 9 different resumes. Depending on location and job, I would select and submit the best match of the 9. It's important to note that when interviewed, I quickly mentioned that the address was temporary and that I was transition from South Texas to another geographic location based on job availability. I didn't want anyone to think I was a liar, and simply being totally straightforward during the interviews resolved the potential issue.
I also revised the content of my resume using feedback I received from job search websites, recruiters, and friends. I made some very drastic changes based on feedback I received from The Ladders.
Networked and Used Social Media
I networked 3 basic ways: by phone, by e-mail, and by social media. The day after I was laid off, I sent a global e-mail to all my professional contacts telling them my situation. I then called a few key contacts. Lastly, I updated my LinkedIn profile and status.
IMPORTANT NOTE #1: one of my offers originated through a former boss that noticed my status change on LinkedIn. I had communicated with him about once every 6 months since leaving the company some 8 years ago. Weak link? Yes, but strong enough to get my name in front of a recruiter.
I also used Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn to keep my network updated. I updated them daily, often more than once per day. It is amazing how much positive feedback and referrals you can get from friends and acquaintances that you primarily only know through social media.
Worked the Job
I worked on my job hunt from 8a to 12p every day, and often more. I was lucky to review all of my automated search e-mails, websites, and network messages in 4 hours. Some people say it's a full time job -- I disagree. It's not truly full time, but sometimes it's HARDER than a full time job, and it always feels like more is at stake.
I also attended two career fairs, which were a total waste in terms of job leads, but helped me hone my interviewing skills. They also made me feel like I was actually accomplishing something, even if I didn't land a job through the fair.
Diligently Worked Job Sites
There are tons of job sites. Three that I really like and used daily were Indeed, Trovix, and The Ladders (paid subscriber). I also dabbled with Careerbuilder and Monster, but it wasn't fun. I received more spam and junk from Careerbuilder and Monster than I did real job leads.
IMPORTANT NOTE #2: The offer that I eventually accepted originated with Indeed, although Indeed was linking to a posting on Monster. I WOULD HAVE NEVER FOUND THE JOB THROUGH MONSTER if not for Indeed.
Turned Down Inferior Positions
I wasn't scared to tell potential employers that I wasn't interested. It's a key part of building your career, even if you're hungry for employment. I told two different employers, Eaton and Scott Fertilizer, that I was not interested in pursuing the opportunity they presented. It scared me to do it, but I knew that the jobs were not right for my career. If I had accepted one, I would have missed out on two very good offers.
Executed on the Basics
This one might be obvious, but it's important. Any time someone talked to me about a job or my career, whether they were an employer or recruiter, I sent a thank you note. I prefer e-mail for recruiter follow-up, but I sent letters on 100% cotton paper to anyone who interviewed me. I also followed up any application with a phone call, e-mail, or letter IF I could find good contact information.
I hope someone out there finds this useful. Me? I hope it's the last post I ever write about job searching. I'd rather be cycling, and writing about cycling!