This is “Your Life Dictates Your Job Search, Not the Reverse”, chapter 1 from the book Job Searching in Six Steps (v. 1.0).
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If you’ve picked up this book, you are looking for a job. You might be launching a job search at this exact moment for many reasons:
You are a student:
You have experience:
The reason you are looking for a job is important because it changes what you need to find in your next job, as illustrated in Table 1.1 "Reasons You Are Looking for a Job".
Table 1.1 Reasons You Are Looking for a Job
|Why You Are Looking||What You Need from Your Next Job|
|Student: Graduating from school||
|Student: Looking for an internship||
|Experienced candidate: Returning to workforce||
|Experienced candidate: Changing careers||
|Experienced candidate: Relocating||
Why you look for a job also influences the constraints you face when you look:
Timing and deadlines. On one extreme, you have the internship search with a tight, inflexible time frame. If you need an internship for creditInternship where you are receiving school credit in exchange for performing the internship. The credit is usually in lieu of receiving a wage. next semester, you either get the job by the time of registration or do not. You may need to relocate by a certain date. Your savings may be running out, so you may need to return to the workforce within a definite timetable.
On the other hand, you may have a job that is secure, so you can take your time with your search. You may be an ambitious freshman or sophomore with several years before you graduate and need that full-time job.
Access to resources. When you are in school, you most likely have a dedicated career services office. If you have graduated and have been out of the workforce for some time, you may have little contact with a professional network or support system. You can join an industry association, participate in networking groups, or hire a career coachSomeone who works with you on your job search. Typical activities include helping you select appropriate jobs and careers to pursue, helping with résumés and other marketing, practicing interviewing and networking, and keeping the search on track. to help you create that professional network and support system. Your options for job search support will be different depending on where you live and how much you can invest in your search. People in busy urban areas can more easily find a chapter of a professional organization that matches their interests, like-minded people with whom to network, and career coaches and other professional support resources for hire. In a less-populated geography, you may have to rely on virtual access to professional organizations, networks, and resources. Similarly, your level of financial investment dictates which and how many organizations and networks you can join and what outside resources you can hire. Free or low-cost guidance is available from alumni associations, government agencies focused on workforce issues, and online job boards or career sites that offer guidance and expertise.
Emotional constraints. Certain industries, such as banking and consulting, have very regimented and competitive campus recruiting seasons. Pressure is high as soon as you hit the campus. Someone returning to the workforce after a gap may feel more anxiety or fear than a job seeker with continuous employment. A career changer may feel frustrated at having to break through to a new industry or function. Table 1.2 "Job Search Considerations" summarizes each of these considerations as it applies both to students and experienced candidates.
Table 1.2 Job Search Considerations
|Timing and deadlines||
Internships have tight deadlines that must be adhered to, often with no room for vacation days or personal plans
You may have to relocate for your internship, which can conflict with dorm room requirements
Your savings may dictate that you find a summer job, versus an internship, especially if that internship is nonpaid (you may or may not receive school credit)
On the other hand, you may be a student who has a financial cushion, and you need not rush into a job just for the compensation it provides
When reentering the workforce, having as few gaps as possible is helpful and requires less explaining and messaging
Relocating adds time to a job search, in addition to expense. Traveling to the desired location is both time consuming and expensive
Savings may dictate the length of your search and when timing is tight, you may have fewer options to consider
Candidates should always consider their “financial cushion,” which can provide more options in a search
|Access to resources||
When in school, you have access to career services, which can function as a career coach of sorts
Perhaps your school does not have extensive career services offerings. Perhaps it's best to enlist the services of a professional career coach
Investing in a career coach may yield exceptional results that can be paid for using a fraction of your first paycheck
Where you live and how much you choose to invest change your options for job search guidance. Metro areas are more likely to have professional associations and networking groups in your area of interest
Free or low-cost guidance is available from alumni associations, government agencies focused on workforce issues, and online job boards or career sites that offer guidance and expertise
Certain industries have inflexible time constraints (e.g., investment banking, management consulting), so the time pressure is significant
Other industries are more flexible and hire throughout the year (e.g., media, communications, technology), but there is still the pressure of networking events, interviews, and follow-ups
Some industries (e.g., education, health care) may not come on campus at all, so you would have to manage the entire calendar yourself
When seeking to reenter the workforce, you need to craft a message to explain timing and reasons, which can sometimes be emotional. Harnessing emotion can help develop rapport but it also needs to be balanced with remaining professional
Career changers can feel a great amount of frustration trying to break into a new area
It is important that you understand your life situation and how it might influence your search before you begin any job search. The mechanics of a job search are similar across the different scenarios, and we begin the six-step job search process in the next chapter. In this chapter, we outline the impact of your life situation on your job search:
Your ability to enjoy your senior year in college can be directly correlated to whether or not you have a full-time job waiting for you when you graduate. You will have four possible scenarios in your senior year:
Let’s explore each scenario to consider what your next steps should be.
If you had a summer internship and have received a full-time offer, you are in a great position. Hopefully, you enjoyed your summer internship and you will accept the offer you’ve received. If you will choose not to accept that offer, you’ll be in a great position to explore other options. But don’t waste time, as you’ll have a deadline to accept the first offer extended to you.
If you decide to accept your summer offer, your next steps will be to ensure that you complete all of your new hire paper work and that you have all the details necessary to begin working full time. In addition, you should continue to learn more about the company, the industry, the function, and the department in which you will work. Focus on increasing your network. Find other classmates at your school who might be involved in the same function and department as yours, and perhaps some who are joining the same industry. Join a LinkedInSocial media site that is designed to share your professional information. Group that focuses on your industry and your function and start a discussion. Conduct a Google Alert on your job, your industry, and your company so you are more knowledgeable about them.
Ask about entry-level trainingRepresents the coursework given to new hires. Some larger firms have extensive entry-level training that can last for two months. Others have perhaps just one week, and others provide no upfront training and only on-the-job training. if it is offered. If it is, perhaps you can prepare ahead of time for what you will be taught. Some companies not only administer entry-level training but also grade your performance and then share your grades with your manager. You will make the best impression possible if you are ranked at the very top of your class after training.
If you choose not to accept this offer, quickly launch into a search for a full-time job. Your summer internship should have let you know exactly what you liked and did not like about the company you worked with. Use that information to move your job search forward and find the company and industry you are most interested in.
It is rare that a student will decline an offer if they don’t have another, but that does happen. If that is the case, Table 1.3 "On-Campus Recruiting Calendar: Seniors and Advanced Degree Students" outlines the recruiting calendar for seniors and advanced-degree students in this position. Also make sure to consult career services or a trusted advisor, taking into account all potential next steps.
Table 1.3 On-Campus Recruiting Calendar: Seniors and Advanced Degree Students
|School Calendar||On-Campus Recruiting for Full-Time Opportunities: Seniors Only|
|Aug.||School begins||Seniors receive or do not receive a full-time offer from summer employers|
|Sept.||Semester in full swing||Seniors without offers participate in full-time marketing events|
|Oct.||Midterms||Seniors without offers participate in full-time interviewing|
|Nov.||Preparation for end of semester; finals next month||Seniors must accept or decline full-time offers|
|Dec.||Semester ends; winter break begins|
|Jan.||Winter break, classes begin mid- to late Jan.||Interviewing for full-time positions begins|
|Feb.||Semester in full swing||Interviewing for full-time positions are in full swing|
|Mar.||Midterms||Some interviewing takes place|
|Apr.||Semester winding down; finals next month||New hire paper work sent to future employees|
|May||Classes end; some internships begin||New hire paper work due|
|June||Summer internships begin and are soon in full swing|
|July||Summer internships in full swing, ending early Aug.||Full-time job begins|
|Note: Calendar includes general time frames. Consult with your career services office and employers regarding specific dates/months.|
You’ve strengthened your résumé with a solid internship, but unfortunately, that internship did not convert to a full-time job. This is not necessarily a reflection of your internship performance. Many companies can’t predict hiring needs so far in advance that they can offer a job to a student who isn’t graduating until months or even a year into the future. It’s not the end of the world; you can still achieve your goal of receiving a full-time offer.
The most important thing to know at this point is why you did not receive an offer. Ask for feedback, and ask that it be specific. Recruiters and hiring managers rarely give you interview feedback because our society is litigiousProne to litigation. A society is litigious when its people are apt to sue quickly and often., but your past employer should give you very specific feedback. Perhaps you need to ramp up a particular skill. Perhaps you need to be more well read on a particular topic. Troubleshooting to address any feedback you receive will help in the long run.
Check with your career services office. Ensure you know exactly which companies are coming on campus during the year. Research those companies and attend their marketing events. Talk to everyone you can about opportunities and be focused on exactly what you want to do.
Conduct an off-campus job search. Conducting both an on-campus and off-campus job search ensures that you consider all of the companies in the employable universeA fun way of referring to every company who is hiring.. Remember, of course, to focus sharply on your target.
When you interview for a full-time position, the interviewer may ask about your prior summer and why you did not get an offer. While answering, always speak very positively about the experience and emphasize your contributions. Given that, you need to be honest about why you did not get an offer yet at the same time not harm your candidacy. Perhaps it was not the best fit because the company focuses on a market or product outside your areas of interest. For example, perhaps you were a research intern assigned to analyze the technology industry, but you now want to focus on health care. Perhaps your internship was in the right industry but you’d rather do something else within that interest. For example, you were a talent scout, and you now want to be more involved in the technology side of moviemaking. Think of something that enhances your candidacy with the organizations you are targeting now, especially if that something is not relevant to your summer employer.
If you get stuck on this issue, speak to career services or a professional career coach. This could be a tricky situation and you want to avoid losing an opportunity because you didn’t have a well-thought-out response.
You didn’t have a summer internship, but did you do any of the following?
Represent what you did do on your résumé, listing results-oriented achievements.
Determine what you want to do when you graduate. If you do not know, work with career services to identify potential careers.
If you are a liberal arts major, your area of concentration may not translate to a specific job (e.g., philosophy to philosopher), so you may not be sure about your next career step.
A liberal arts education offers much to employers, including communication, research, critical thinking skills, teamwork and leadership skills, flexibility, a global focus, and many, many other skills and strengths. All of these skills can be applied to industries such as advertising, education, health care, manufacturing, media and entertainment, even areas associated with the business majors (financial services, accounting, consulting, and so forth).
If you’ve studied English, history, religion, philosophy, or psychology, you have honed your critical thinking skills (for example, comparative literature), you have been innovative in your learning (for example, art history, East meets West), and your writing skills are advanced because many of these courses require extensive research reports.
If you’ve studied the arts, you could be innovative, have strong presentation skills, be flexible in your thinking, and have an eye for design and graphics.
If you’ve studied languages, political science, or international relations, your focus is global and you can appreciate the juxtapositionMeans the comparison or union of two opposing forces. and convergenceTo come together from opposite sides and meet or join. of the profit and nonprofit sectors.
Economics and technical sciences test your analytical and quantitative skills, in addition to teamwork because many of the courses require group projects.
Although they are not considered “majors,” extracurricular activities enhance many of the just-noted skills—creativity, communication and presentation, working with different people and cultures, and teamwork—along with a competitive winning spirit and drive, organization, and dedication.
Table 1.4 "Translating Your College Major to Potential Jobs" may help identify exactly what you want to do.
Table 1.4 Translating Your College Major to Potential Jobs
|Major||Your Strategy||Your Ability and Your Focus|
|English, history, religion, philosophy, psychology||Promote the soft skills and critical thinking that are the hallmark of liberal arts||Research, communication skills, context, critical thinking|
|Dance, art, music, theater||Demonstrate your creativity and the value of creativity in the workplace||Innovation, flexibility, importance of design|
|Languages, political science, international relations||Emphasize the value of global studies and cultural awareness||Globalization, convergence of profit and nonprofit|
|Economics and the technical sciences||Do not take for granted that recruiters know your value, so highlight your analytical skills and market knowledge||Quantitative and analytical skills, business-specific projects and classes|
|Extracurricular activities||Position competitive sports, student government, and special interest clubs as opportunities to develop teamwork, leadership, and a multidimensional background||Teamwork, organizational skills, leadership, ancillary skills (fund-raising, budgeting, event planning)|
You might have many reasons for not having a summer internship and not needing a full-time job. Perhaps you are graduating college and you plan to go directly into graduate school. You may not need a full-time job; however, it would be worthwhile for an aspiring law student to have a summer internship in a law firm that specializes in an area of law you find especially interesting. Perhaps you want to know what it’s like to be a litigator, and eventually a judge, so working in the court system would be a tremendous learning opportunity for you, and a tremendous networking opportunity as well.
No matter what your plans are after school, internships can always help expose you to different opportunities. You may be surprised to discover an interest you didn’t think you had. They are certainly invaluable tools for networking. At the very least, you can earn some money, which is always helpful!
Internships are some of the most important experiences you can have while you are in college because they either confirm the career you want or confirm the careers you know you do not want! Students can pursue internships at every stage of their college career. However, the majority of firms focus on juniors or graduate students because they are the feeder pool to a firm’s full-time hires. In some large firms in specific industries such as banking and management consulting, 80–90 percent of the summer class receive a full-time offer. The most important internship is the one you secure for the summer of your junior year or between years of graduate school because that internship will most likely result in the extension of a full-time offer. Internships are available for freshmen and sophomores but may require a bit more work to secure because companies are more prone to hiring juniors. Smaller firms or organizations still focus on juniors, but sophomores and freshman have a chance to impress as well.
The most common internship is a summer internship, which lasts approximately ten weeks and begins in mid- to late May or very early June and ends in early to mid-August. The ten-week period usually begins with an orientation, and then you will be hard at work pursuing your deliverables. You may or may not have some training sprinkled throughout the ten weeks, but at the very least you should have several opportunities to network throughout the summer.
It is worth noting that some internship opportunities extend past the summer, and others are exclusively labeled fall, winter, or spring internships. Whatever the season, the experience you will garner from such opportunities can be extremely helpful to your full-time job search and will go a long way toward strengthening your résumé and value proposition to your future employer.
Table 1.5 "On-Campus Recruiting Calendar: Juniors, Sophomores, and Freshmen as well as First-Year MBA Students" outlines the recruiting calendar for internships. It may be helpful to use this and sync the dates and months with your school calendar and potential employers so you know exactly what to do at every turn.
Table 1.5 On-Campus Recruiting Calendar: Juniors, Sophomores, and Freshmen as well as First-Year MBA Students
|School Calendar||On-Campus Recruiting Schedule|
|Aug.||School begins||Companies begin screening résumés for summer internships.|
|Sept.||Semester in full swing||Companies begin marketing opportunities on campus and continue to screen résumés.|
|Oct.||Midterms||Companies begin on-campus interviewing and some summer offers are extended.|
|Nov.||Preparation for end of semester; finals next month||Some summer offers must be accepted or declined. Summer intern candidates send résumés and apply for positions.|
|Dec.||Semester ends; winter break begins||Summer candidates continue to apply for summer opportunities; some are contacted for interviews.|
|Jan.||Winter break, classes begin mid- to late Jan.||Summer candidates are contacted for on-campus interviews. Interviews begin. Some offers are extended.|
|Feb.||Semester in full swing||Some offer deadlines are extended. Interviews continue. Some have deadline acceptance dates.|
|Mar.||Midterms||Interviews trail off. Most summer opportunities have been accepted or declined.|
|Apr.||Semester winding down; finals next month||Summer new hire paper work sent to future interns.|
|May||Classes end; some internships begin||Some summer internships begin.|
|June||Summer internships begin and are soon in full swing||Remaining summer internships begin and are soon in full swing.|
|July||Summer internships in full swing, ending early Aug.||Summer internships in full swing, ending in early Aug.|
|Note: Certain industries have more aggressive recruiting timelines than others. For example, investment banking, sales and trading, and consulting are typically the first industries to conduct on-campus interviewing in both the fall (September and October) and the spring (January and February). All other industries typically recruit later in the academic year: technology, marketing, communications, teaching, and so forth. It’s best to check with career services, and with your classmates one or two years ahead of you, regarding this schedule, so you are best prepared. Note also that this chart represents only those companies that come to your campus to recruit. A vast number of opportunities are available, but not every opportunity will be listed with your career services office. Searches in the field of health care, teaching, and communications, to name a few, have to be managed off campus, where you are responsible for networking with decision makers, sending your marketing materials (your résumé, cover letter, and so forth), and obtaining interviews. This is challenging, but using the six-step job search process outlined in this book will help keep you on track.|
It’s wise to understand your performance measuresSkills on which you are evaluated, like teamwork, communication, specific knowledge, and so on. during your internship. You might be evaluated on certain skills such as teamwork, communication, specific knowledge, and so on. Larger companies are more likely to have a formal performance review process. They sometimes share the performance metrics with you at the beginning of the summer, so there are no surprises. Some larger corporations also have other interns rate your performance because teamwork is so important. The more you know about your performance measurement, the more likely you are to succeed.
The best-case scenario would be to have a paid internship in your chosen field, so you can build upon the skills necessary to position yourself for a full-time job offer. However, in some industries, such as the arts, advertising, media and entertainment, public relations (PR), nonprofit, and government, unpaid internships or those that pay only a stipend are standard. In down economies, even industries that formerly offered predominately paid internships offer unpaid internships. Unpaid internships require that you receive credit for the internship. Research the credit aspect in advance. Each school produces a form or letter on school letterhead that confirms the school’s approval in advance of you receiving credit for an internship. Some organizations do not check for proper credit authorization, but many do, so it’s best to sort out credit requirements before you start your search.
Paid internships can vary from minimum wage up to a summer salary commensurateEqual to. with a full-time salary. Some companies pay according to your year in school, for example, some pay $10 per hour for a freshman, $12 per hour for a sophomore, $15 for a junior. The range is wide and varies by industry, size of company, role or functional area of intern, and geography, as illustrated in Table 1.6 "Internship Salary Differentiators".
Table 1.6 Internship Salary Differentiators
|Differentiating Factor||How Salaries Differ|
Private sector often pays more than public sector or nonprofit
Banking, consulting, and technology often pay more than advertising, retail, or entertainment
|Size of company||Big companies are more likely to have structured programs with higher pay (That said, sometimes small companies offer higher pay to stay competitive.)|
|Role or functional area of intern||Technical jobs (e.g., IT, engineering, graphic design) often pay more than other roles|
|Geography||Major metros often pay more than smaller geographies|
Many perfectly good reasons can explain a gap in your work history:
An employment gap raises questions about whether your skills are current, whether your industry expertise or functional knowledge is outdated, and if your network is still intact. When employers hire experienced people, it is often to use their skills right away, to take advantage of their up-to-date knowledge, and to get access to their network. If your skills, expertise, and network are questionable, and an employment gap weakens these three areas, then your value to the employer is weakened. Even if a prospective employer does not view you negatively because of a gap, all things being equal, the employer prefers a candidate with continuous work history to the one with a gap.
Because most of the downside of any gap is related to the job candidate being stale or having out-of-date skills, the length of the gap is very important. A gap of several months is much more easily overcome than that of several years. Multiple gaps also might give employers the impression that your career lacks forward progress and momentum.
The reason for the gap is also important. If you attribute the gap to being unable to find a job, the employer may question how desirable you are to its competitors. If the gap is for family leave, the employer may wonder if you are fully committed. If medical reasons kept you from working, the employer can legally only verify you are able to do the job in question, but this doesn’t mean the employer won’t wonder silently if you will be at your best. Finally, if your gap is due to personal pursuits, the employer may wonder if you are truly back for good or just biding time until your next adventure.
The more an employer wonders what’s behind your employment gap, the more negatively they might view your circumstances. You must be specific and deliberate in how you message the reasons behind your gap.
Be empowered about your choice to leave. When you talk about why you took time off, don’t sound sheepish. Don’t denigrate your experience. If it was a layoff, employers aren’t expecting you to be happy about being laid off, but you should, at the very least, stay composed and matter-of-fact. Simply state there was a layoff. Then move the conversation onto the present in a positive manner. Reiterate your interest in the current opportunity, rather than showing regret, anger, or any other lingering connection with your previous employer.
If your leave was medically related, you do not need to give details. Simply state you had a medical issue that needed to be taken care of, but, thankfully, you are well now! A future employer welcomes hearing that type of message.
Give detailed examples of what you accomplished and learned. If your gap is due to a layoff, don’t talk about your job search activity as the sole focus of your time. Talk about how you are keeping your skills and network current. Talk about what you’ve read recently as a signal that you are keeping abreast of the industry. Stress the positive in all that you have been doing.
Translate your time off into experience your prospective employer will appreciate. If you took a family leave, don’t focus on your parenting skills unless you are interviewing for a relevant position with children. Focus on how you coordinated playgroups, which shows organization, management, and attention to detail. Mention your fund-raising for school programs, which shows sales skills. If you took a leave to pursue a personal interest, make a case for how that experience contributes to your next role, for example, extensive travel might translate to international awareness and cross-cultural savvy.
Whatever the reason behind your gap, position it in a positive, optimistic, forward-thinking way. Perhaps the gap gave you the perfect opportunity to redirect your career to exactly what you are now most interested in. Use the reasons for your gap to make the case for why you are a strong candidate.
If you are having a tough time explaining a gap of any kind, find a resource, such as your school’s career services office, mentor, or coach to help you craft a meaningful, impactful message.
Are you 100 percent convinced that you are ready to return to the workforce after your time away? If you are looking for a return job to be a place where you can learn on someone else’s payroll, then you are not making the most compelling case for why a prospective employer should hire you. Get ready to work before you return to work.
Make sure your skills, expertise, and network are up to date. Use Excel to maintain your household budget so you can keep that skill up to date. Read trade journals dedicated to your industry and functional area. Join professional associations in your industry and functional area. You may want to volunteer so that you update your skills, expertise, and network in a working environment. These suggestions are useful to everybody in the job search, but for a candidate with a gap in employment, maintenance of your skills, expertise, and network is even more critical.
Make sure you have the financial cushion to sustain a longer search. It may take a while to rebuild your skills, expertise, and network and to convince prospective employers this has occurred. You may want to take temporary or project work even in an area unrelated to your target field to ensure you can support your financial obligations during your search.
Do you show the confidence that results from being 100 percent convinced you are ready to return to the workforce after your time away? If you doubt your own skills, it will be difficult to convince others. Make sure that you work on your story, examples, and reasons for why you are the best candidate for your target job.
If you are just settling back into your field after time away, your personal support network might have fallen away. You might not have a daily routine in place that keeps you motivated and active. Make sure you rebuild your environment to support your job search. Professional associations, networking groups, alumni chapters, mentors, or coaches may help with your confidence and emotional support.
If you have unresolved personal issues or extreme anxiety, frustration, or other emotional constraints, then you might consider enlisting a therapist or counselor to help you deal with these issues. Remember that it is not just the tactical issues of your job search that need care and attention. Make sure you tend to your emotional needs.
In a way, we are all career changers because the transition from school to work is a career change. You have a different role (from student to whatever your new job is). You are in a different environment (unless your new employer is an institute of higher education). You might even be in a different geography because many people go to school in a different place from where they settle.
Sometimes the career change is more pronounced, such as an executive who decides after decades of experience that she wants to try something new. Martha Stewart’s early jobs were in financial services, not hospitality. You may have built up your expertise and accomplishments in an area very different from where you want to be working.
When you change jobs, you do essentially the same role in the same industry. If you are a hotel concierge for a Hilton property and then move to a Sheraton hotel, this is a job change. If you are a hotel concierge for Hilton and become an office manager for an architecture firm, this is a career change—you are doing a different role in a different industry.
In the subsequent chapters on job search, you need to execute the same six steps as other job seekers. In the areas of marketing yourself and talking about yourself in networking and interviewing situations, however, you won’t be able to rely on your past track record for examples or evidence of how you are suitable for the job. This doesn’t mean you should simply ask prospective employers to take a leap of faith and trust that you will learn. Instead, you should do enough preparation that you fit in with the new area you are targeting.
Essentially, you want to make yourself equal to someone already doing the job, so you don’t want to appear like a career changer, but rather already a career insider. While you might not have a specific employment situation to point to, you can develop the skills and expertise of an insider by volunteering or consulting in that new job area.
A student might point to her work as a tutor when she interviews with schools for teaching positions. An aspiring marketer might highlight his role in the advertising campaign for his school’s homecoming event. A more experienced executive who doesn’t have the campus opportunities of clubs and extracurricular activities can look at community organizations for opportunities to volunteer.
As you go along the six-step job search process, pay close attention to Step 3, Conduct In-Depth Research. If you can showcase your understanding of your new target area by your exhaustive research and grasp of trends, challenges, and competitor information, then you will be valuable to prospective employers.
Career changers have more convincing to do and need additional search skills. This means that the career changer’s job search will be different:
It will likely take longer. You have to establish a track record in your new area. You have to find people who will listen to your story. Students should start their job search long before graduation. They can use the years in school to build a track record in areas where they might want to work after graduation. In the six-step job search process, step 5 includes strategies for maintaining long-term motivation, which also would be particularly helpful when changing careers.
It may be more expensive. A longer search means that you have no money coming in from your new job. If you have another job while you are looking, that might be fine, but if you are unemployed you have to factor in enough cash to last throughout the longer search.
It might require additional education or training. Depending on the new job requirements, you might need a specific degree or certification you don’t already have. Experienced professionals might consider taking advantage of tuition benefits at their current employer to learn new skills while still at their old career. Students should look at specific courses they can take before graduation to enhance their marketability.
You have to hustle more. Because you don’t have the track record in other workplaces, your résumé won’t demonstrate a track record. If all prospective employers know about you is your résumé, you likely will not be seen. Therefore, you must network and get in front of people to have a chance to tell your story. In the six-step job search process, step 4 focuses on networking and interviewing, which will help with the hustling, as well as crafting a compelling story about your career change.
You might be attending school in a location that is different from where you want to live after graduation. You might have personal reasons for wanting to relocate now. You might want to experience working in a different country. A number of positive explanations might exist for why you need to conduct a long-distance job search. This doesn’t make it any less challenging:
Your network and support system may be smaller. Your contacts are more likely to be where you live. In the case of a long-distance search, you won’t have as big or strong a network in your target geography.
You have additional planning and scheduling constraints due to travel. You need to travel to your target geography several times during your search. Phone interviews and networking meetings are fine to start, but you absolutely have to meet people in person during your search. Planning and accommodating travel into your schedule are concerns you must address if you are a job seeker who is relocating.
Your long-distance search can be expensive. Some employers will pay for interview travel, but even then, only at the later stages of an interview. For networking or exploratory interviews, you need to foot the bill. In addition, some but not all employers pay for relocation. National conferences or career fairs in your target geography give you a chance to meet and possibly interview with prospective employers. You need to budget and plan for the fees and travel accompanying these resources.
If you are relocating internationally, you have the added complexity of different time zones, different currencies, different employment laws, and different job search protocols. Imagine a search for someone in Asia wanting to work in the United States or vice versa—even the simplest phone call needs to be planned due to the time difference. When you research salaries or even company or industry revenues, you will be dealing with a different currency. You also have to check how you will be classified when working abroad—sometimes you can be paid in your home currency. You need to research what visa or other authorization you need to work in a different country. Finally, your job search tactics need to take into account cultural norms abroad.
For those students who wish to return to their home country, perhaps you have friends and family who can help to make connections. You will want to use your time wisely when you travel back home during breaks and holidays, and arrange interviews and meetings far in advance. International students who want to stay in the United States after graduation are presented an entirely new set of issues. Obtaining permanent authorization to work in the United States can be complex because the government has caps on work permits that are often reached by the vast number of international students who want to stay in the United States. In addition, certain visas allow for one year of work in the United States (H1B), and extensions can come with those visas. Students should speak to the person in charge of international students or to career services for advice on these issues. You might also consult an employment lawyer who is well versed in visa requirements. A good job search strategy would include researching and then targeting companies that will hire international students who are not authorized to work in the United States on a full-time basis.
You still need to execute the six steps of the job search process, but with these additions:
Plan time and budget to visit your target geography several times over the course of your search. If you are a student, consider using your academic breaks in your target geography. If you are employed, set aside vacation time to make these trips. Budget for these additional travel expenses as you plan your job search.
Set specific dates for when you will be in the target geography. It is helpful if prospective employers know when you will be in the area. You might convince employers or at least networking targets to meet with you because you are rarely in the area.
Make sure you are clear about time zones. You want to correspond during normal business hours for your target. If you are in the United States and targeting Asia, this means you have late-evening search activities. When you are scheduling within a different time zone, be vigilant about expressing what time zone you are referring to when you propose or confirm times.
Research visa, work authorization, and other legal issues as soon as your target geography is identified. Paper work often takes longer to process than you expect, and you do not want to find out you have expended effort for an inaccessible location. Remember to consult with international student affairs, career services, or an employment lawyer well before you start your search.
Research cultural nuances and exactly how the job search is conducted in the geography you are targeting. This might be obvious for international searches, but there might also be nuances in different regions of the same country.
Account for extra time to be deliberate in your search. When you are in a different geography, you will not have the luxury to drop in at a networking event you heard about at the last minute. Conferences and career fairs have deadlines for registration. The immediate people around you will likely not be connected to your target geography. You will need to be proactive and find resources relating to your long-distance search.
Employers do not want to waste their time on candidates who then decide not to move. If you have a specific date for when your move will happen, this helps convince prospective employers how serious you are about moving. If you offer to pay for your interview travel, this also signals to employers that you are serious about their geography. (Employers don’t always pay for interview travel, anyway.)
Some job seekers might make their move contingent on getting a job in the area, and financially, this may make sense, but it presents the chicken-and-egg problem: employers want to know you will definitely move before they consider hiring you, but you want to know they will give you a job before you consider moving. People do get jobs before they have physically moved. However, if your job search has stalled, you might want to consider moving to your target geography because it is easier to look for a job in the same place you live.
Getting an address or phone number that reflects your future geography can signal to employers that you are already there. This helps you with employers who won’t consider out-of-area candidates. However, this may hurt your chances for relocation reimbursement if you need to move for the job and would otherwise have qualified had you not suggested you were already there.
Even hypothetically planning the move will help you personally, as it confirms whether you can indeed move. If you own a home, can you sell it in a timely way? Have you run the numbers on relocation costs and your new cost of living in the target geography? Are you emotionally prepared to uproot? It’s one thing to imagine that you would be open to relocating, but once you are in the thick of your job search, you want to be sure that you are spending time on geographies that are feasible options for you.
This book will give you the tools necessary to execute any kind of job search you need at any point in your life. A successful job search begins with understanding your current life situation. Knowing your goals and how each job can help you reach those goals is critical to your confidence and emotional level during a job search. Your current life situation and the reason for your job search represent the variables in your search. The six-step job search process that is covered in the subsequent chapters represents the constant, or the framework, from which you launch your search.
Whether you are a student interested in a summer internship or your first full-time job or an experienced professional returning from a leave or changing careers, this book gives you a job search methodology to get that next job.
There is much to consider when making a change of any kind in your life and career. Timing is important, such as campus recruiting deadlines or a specific moving date. Timing is a factor in another sense for individuals with gaps of employment on their résumé. Access to resources varies over time because you may be a student with great career services support or out of the professional workplace on a leave and feeling more isolated. Emotions vary because some job searches are more stressful than others: the regimented campus recruiting programs of banking and consulting firms; the career changer looking to fit in; the unemployed worker under a cash crunch.
Remember that your job search changes depending on your specific life situation. Knowing that your life influences your job search, adapt your strategy accordingly. Maximize your inherent advantages. Minimize any constraints.