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If you find that you’re struggling in your job search, even after having received outplacement support, you’re not alone. In fact, in the US, you would be hard-pressed to find an outplacement firm ready to publish success metrics on job placement of their participants. Here are a few insights into why you might be struggling and what you can do about it.
You were part of a company downsizing.
If you are looking for a job along with several of your colleagues as part of an organizational restructuring, you are competing with them for a limited number of roles. It creates a buyers market, where the employer has a choice between several qualified candidates: an enviable position for talent management. Looking for a job when you have a job puts you in a position of strength. You’re looking for your next career ‘jump’. Looking for a job after a downsizing or having been let go changes your mindset, and to a certain degree, your negotiating position.
Preparation is always important in the job search. If you were part of a an organizational downsizing or layoffs, it’s even more so. Take the time to understand what each employer is looking for in each job, make sure your resume shows them that you know how to do it, and prepare your questions for the interview.
Your network is almost exclusively colleagues from your old company.
This is typical for most corporate professionals. If you’re in a corporate role, then chances are your network is made up of the people that you’ve worked with there. Unless you’ve moved around to a few companies, most of those people are in the same ‘house’. The issue is that once you start looking for a new role, much of that network is not going to be able to help you, at least not without tipping your hand. And if the job change is the result of a downsizing, then they may be in the same boat that you are.
Getting in front of it means reaching out to different people in your life. They are people who know you and the quality of your work, but maybe they know you from volunteer or community work. Growing and cultivating a board network is important regardless of you level of experience, but as you begin to target more senior roles in your career, chances are that the lead is not coming from a job posting, it’s going to be a referral from your network.
You’re job ‘fishing’ or ‘farming’ but not ‘hunting’.
There’s an analogy in sales training that talks about farming, fishing and hunting. Farmers cultivate and reap the harvest, fishermen cast a wide net and gather a catch and hunters target their prey.
In the context of job search, the more experience you have, the greater the need to hunt rather than fish or farm. Casting, or applying to many jobs that aren’t well targeted, generates rejections and is demoralizing. Cultivating relationships to develop opportunities takes a lot of time that you may not have. We call it job hunting for a reason. Start with a goal-setting exercise where you identify what specifically you’re looking for in a next job. Once you’ve figured out what you’re looking for, grab your binoculars, and go hunting.