Words of Wisdom: Advice from Career Horizons Alumni

Recently, at a job search networking event we hosted, we had the pleasure of being joined by a panel of seven client “alumni” who had all recently landed new positions — and who were (to their tremendous credit) willing to devote a few hours to “give back” and help out some other individuals we’re working with who are still going through the search process.

In this session, each panelist told the story of their own personal job search and mentioned the emotional ups and downs they went through, the mistakes they made, the setbacks they encountered, and the techniques that ultimately helped them land heir new opportunity.  It was a great event, all around, and obviously added an “empathic” component missing from many other career seminars — including our own — where facilitators teach job hunting principles from a theoretical standpoint, but can’t truthfully claim to have recently gone through the process, themselves.

Here are a few tips from the session (lovingly paraphrased from memory) that the panelists shared and that we felt would be beneficial to pass along to the Career Horizons community at large:

— “When you’re struggling to get your job search efforts underway each day, since you’d obviously rather be out doing something else, instead, just get started and do that one little first thing.  Usually this will break the ice, get you in the flow, and lead you into a few hours of solid, productive activity.”

— “After a successful career spanning nearly 20 years, where I was always something of a hot commodity and never really had to look for work, I’ve learned this time out not to take any job for granted — including my new position — and I’m much more appreciative of the fortunate position I’ve found myself in.”

— “One technique that worked very well for me, on occasions when I interviewed but got turned down for the final offer, was to send a follow-up email about a month after the interview where I discussed anything but the interview itself or my job search.  I’d focus on how their business was going, some personal information about them that I picked up, etc.   If I didn’t hear back after a week, I’d then send a brief follow-up email, and if there was no response after that, I’d delete their information and assume they weren’t interested in an ongoing networking relationship.   On those occasions when I did hear back, however, the results were always positive and some good things always came of it!”

— “When I was job hunting, I took the process seriously and treated it as a full-time job.  What that meant was that I had to be at Starbucks by 8:00 each morning, working on my laptop, and then I’d head over to the library at 10:00 to continue my efforts from there.  If I showed up at these places even five minutes late, that was still ‘late’, and I had to be honest with myself about the importance of staying focused and the level of commitment I was making to finding my next position.”

— “While people hate to hear it, I think there’s a limit to how far or how effectively one can truly ‘transfer’ their skills at the executive level.  In other words, while you may think your management skills in one industry would be equally effective in another industry, that’s not usually how employers or recruiters are going to see it — so you should go into your search with eyes wide open and consider concentrating heavily in those industries where you have proven strengths, especially if you need to find new employment within a relatively quick time frame.”

— “Now that I’m on board in my new assignment, I’m literally throwing everything I have into it and making a point to arrive early and stay late each day.  After so many years in one company, I have to admit that I’m having a ball learning the ropes of my new organization, and I can also tell that my habits are making a highly positive impression with my new colleagues, as well as my boss.”

— “In starting my new job, I resolved to withhold judgment and actively search for things to like about all of my co-workers.  Eventually, of course, I may have to make management decisions about how well people are doing their jobs, and take the appropriate actions, but I’ve first resolved to give everyone the benefit of the doubt, to find things to like in them, and perhaps most of all, to fit myself into the culture of the company rather than (futilely) trying to fit the company/culture to me as I’ve done in the past.”

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