No matter your station in life, you need to figure out one thing fairly quick during a job transition:
You are in charge of and responsible for your own job search.
Of course, there are a plenty of friendly people out there in your new and growing network who will offer to help. There are blogs, websites, search engines and other tools. And you’ll find paid resources like career coaches and resume writers who can help you look, act and sound smarter.
But on Monday morning, it is still you either moving forward or sitting still. Need a motivating message to with this idea? Here’s one of my favorites:
If it is to be, it’s up to me.
Now I’ll admit there days when that phrase sounds too convenient. And a little bit corny. But during job search, it is dead on.
Leaving the structure of a company and setting up shop in your home office or at your dining room table requires a plan and new discipline. Without a corporate schedule and series of meetings each day (like in your old job), you are left to your own planning process.
And without a good one, you risk becoming reliant on others - a dangerous scenario.
Here’s who and what we rely on too often. And doing so can be dangerous:
Job seekers rely on resume blasting way too much. If you send 100 resumes every week, one of them has to hit, right? Well, often the answer is “no”. Worse? Time has been wasted and you become known for pursuing every job under the big blue sky. You are perceived as a generalist in a world looking for specialists.
Career coach or resume writer
A career expert can be a huge help in creating a personal brand, writing great marketing materials and structuring your job search process. They may also be able to introduce you to influential people in your target geography. But they can’t do the work for you.
Recruiters can be a great source of knowledge, advice and perspective. But they are not a solution for most people in transition. They work for the hiring company and will only need to speak with you if your background matches an open position. Working with recruiters can bring value, but beware the small odds that they will have something for you. Do not expect a job to come from a recruiter.
Friends and family
The people who know you best and love you the most can certainly be helpful. But only if you arm them with data. Be sure to provide them with clear job search objectives and a specific list of target companies. If you don’t help them and if you act like a victim, all you’ll get is sympathy.
It sounds right that people who know your work best would play a big role in your next job. After all, you proved yourself to them, right? But here’s the problem: People move on. They adjust to their new work life without you. And, unless you get back in touch, they will forget about you. So take early offers of help with a grain of salt. Say thanks and move forward.
Fellow job seekers
You won’t find a more empathetic, hard working group of people than fellow job seekers. They know what you are going through and often know what you need. But they have their own big heavy rock to carry. So be a help to them and be ready to share your specific objectives, but recognize their limitations. Don’t get me wrong. You can get important help and support from these groups. In fact, you need them to succeed.
But the most important work is yours.
Tim Tyrell-Smith is founder of Tim's Strategy, a site that helps professionals succeed in job search, career and life strategy. Follow Tim on Twitter, @TimsStrategy, and learn about his two popular job-search books.