Winning Job Search Case Study

By: Shawn Driscoll

I’ve been hearing a lot of doom and gloom about the economy and the job market lately. I live in the Detroit area, so that tends to dominate the news and local conversation. But it’s not just a local issue. I talk to people from all over the country and everyone’s got the same story…it’s a down economy and a bad job market.

But could we be buying in to that story a little more than is healthy, realistic or helpful? I think so. In fact, I know so. Because I’ve been seeing some clients get amazing results in this “bad" job market. And while they are amazing people(!) they aren’t any more well known in their field than the average person. They’ve just chosen a different outlook and search strategy.

So this month’s I thought it would be helpful to highlight a ‘case study’ of a client, Heather, who recently ran a highly successful job search campaign.

Lots of things were stacked against her—she had a very small geographic area she was willing to work in. She worked in a narrow industry that didn’t have a lot of big employers in her local geography. Her field is one that, if you read the papers and believe what they say, is considered to have limited opportunities in this market because it’s considered ‘overhead’. And, she wanted to expand her experience by stretching outside of her existing industry and experience level (into an industry where a lot of emphasis is placed on past experience).

And yet, in 2 short months she went from being handed a layoff notice to having 5 very competitive job offers in her local area to choose between. You read that right! Five Offers. Any one of them would have been considered a great offer. But she actually got to PICK the best of the bunch.

Wanna know her secrets? Here are 5 things she did that I believe led to these unbelievable results:

  1. She got really clear about what her ideal target job was. And she built her strategy around that target. She didn’t get pulled down by the ‘doom and gloom’ economy and dumb down her resume to attract just anything. She went in the exact opposite direction. She clearly articulated a very specific type of job in her field and only targeted opportunities that fit. And she prepared herself well so she could showcase how her experience and skills were the perfect fit for the job.

(Coaches note: this strategy works best in a down job market because it allows you to STAND OUT among the thousands of resumes recruiters and employers see every month. Better to appear as tailor-made for one job, than be lost in the sea of ‘mediocre’ fits for a bunch of jobs!)

  1. She relied on both tried and true job search strategies, as well as some newer ones. Yes, she used conventional networking and online at job boards. But she spent most of her time networking with recruiters in her industry and professionals in her field. And she used some new online networking tools like LinkedIn to expand her search. All paid off in leads at a faster and much higher rate than just responding to postings.

(Coaches note: searching and applying to online postings should be about 10% of your effort in a down market. Everyone is doing that. You’ve got to connect with real people who know about real jobs to get a leg up on the competition.)

  1. She focused on more than just her job search. She made sure she stayed balanced and focused on personal priorities as well as the job search. She took time to enjoy her time, and tackle some of those long standing ‘to do’s’ on her personal list. Very energizing !

(Coaches note: let’s face it—a job search will never be as fast as you want it to be. There is always a lot of waiting to hear back. And that wait time can be really un-motivating if it is your entire focus. Unmotivated applicants don’t get hired! You’ve got to make it a priority to keep yourself feeling great, even in a prolonged search.)

  1. She took consistent action on her search, even when opportunities looked like they were going to come through. She kept sending out the resumes, making the follow up calls, going for interviews and pursuing new leads until the very end. She didn’t jump at the first offer that came her way. She negotiated the time to see planned interviews through to the end, so she could make a thoughtful decision.

(Coaches note: Many people start to pull back on their search efforts the minute one opportunity starts getting traction. Big mistake. Stay the course until you’ve finished! That’s how Heather ended up with 5 offers within a few weeks time.)

  1. She got support. She didn’t try to go this alone. She brought in others—colleagues, her coach (me!) and friends and family to support her and help her remain motivated and objective.

(Coaches note: Surrounding yourself with the right support team is critical to success in finding that just right opportunity you’ve been looking for.)

The Bottom line: even in a down economy there are lots of great opportunities out there just waiting for the right candidate to come along. With the right attitude and the right strategyArticle Submission, you can be one of the lucky ones who gets to pick and choose your next role. Happy hunting!

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