Many people have been helpful in my job search. It is a new experience for those of us who have been at a company a long time. Even if you are practiced at interviewing others, being interviewed can still be a new experience. While I have not mastered the process, I did want to share the lessons I have learned so that others can stand on my shoulders and I can pay it forward. This is a work in progress and will be modified as I receive feedback on it. This is biased due to my experience as an IT professional. Many things cross over to other careers and there are some specifics directed at IT people. Looking for a new job can be broken into 5 stages.
- “TAKE FIVE / SWAN DIVE” – Decide to find another job
- “TEST DRIVE” – Your Job Search
- “ARCHIVE” – Resigning your current job
- “ARRIVE” – Starting your new job
- “THRIVE” – Prospering in your life
“TAKE FIVE / SWAN DIVE” – Decide to find another job
Whether you decide to leave on your own or you are asked to leave, the process is a big undertaking.
Should you look for a new job?
Forbes has a good article on some reasons to start looking and some advice on what to do when you start. https://www.forbes.com/sites/jacquelynsmith/2013/09/04/14-signs-its-time-to-leave-your-job
There can also be other reasons to consider a new job that are not covered in the article. Career advancement, new career entirely, company changes in stability or culture, need for retirement planning (401k, 403b), poor company health or poor company strategy.
How long have you been at your current position?
An old rule of thumb is to stay a minimum of 3 years at each job with allowance for 1 mulligan. The mulligan is where you leave before 1 year. If you have one of these it is them, if you have multiples it is implied that it is you. This study from 2016 (https://www.bls.gov/news.release/pdf/tenure.pdf) states the median tenure is 4.2 in January 2016 as opposed to 4.6 in January 2014. Tenure for younger people is typically shorter than for older people.
What is your canned response to “why are you looking to leave?”?
Contemplating this question seriously provides you with multiple benefits. Once you have the real reasons at multiple levels understood, you can craft your message. Regardless of the circumstances, it is important to have an explanation that is true, positive, short and sweet.
How long will it take to find a new position?
The timing can be different depending on the economy. My rough rule of thumb is 1 month for every $30k of salary. There are exceptions to this rule and it works for general planning. My experience has been that larger companies appear to take longer to hire than smaller companies. Government and certain industries with red tape can take longer as well.
My friend Mike asked me if I had a source for my rough rule. It has been too long and I don’t. After some investigating, the answers from various sources can be summarized as:
- Be patient and persistent
- The more money you desire, the longer the search takes
- The longer you are unemployed the longer it will take to find employment
The advice is pretty diverse. I’ve ordered the links by date of publication where possible.
Excellent graph from sample sizes of 100+ people by job category provides more fine-grained information than other articles.
In 2018, for employees older than 50, use your network and it will take between 3 – 6 months to 2 years.
In 2017, Rough rule of thumb is 1 month for every $10k.
In 2014 it took on average 43 days to find a job, with executive jobs taking 76 days to find a position.
According to AARP, workers over the age of 55 tend to be out of work longer than those under 55. In June 2012, the average length of time it took seniors to find a job was about 55 weeks. Those under age 55 averaged 35 weeks.
Approx. 12 weeks.
“TEST DRIVE” – Your Job Search
While the perfectionist in me would want to develop my assets to the highest level before proceeding, I don’t recommend this. Get real world feedback to your profile and refine it. This is applying Lean Startup methodologies to the job search process.
Consider Asset Development
* Cover Letter(s) – some websites will store the cover letters you use. Basics like spelling and language are crucial
* LinkedIn Profile
o Resume conversion
o Acquire Recommendations
o Populate skills
o Create Blog posts
* Media assets
o GitHub Account – technical people should have samples of their work posted
o Blogs – WordPress or LinkedIn – your personality and interests can come through ahead of time. Most people will not read them, so you know those that do are especially interested.
o Videos – Youtube videos can communicate your personality more clearly than the written word.
* Headshot – Please post a professional picture. This is fundamental.
* Use versioning in the filename so that you know the resume age and style.
* Tailor the resume per job to highlight the aspects of your prior employment that are a fit for the new opportunity.
* Be Honest. I shouldn’t have to say this, but lying will harm you. Don’t risk it.
* TopResume.com and other sites provide resume analysis so that your resume is consumable by automated processes.
You need to research the prospective employer website, job description and tie your explanation of interest and how you can contribute in a language that fits the style of the organization. Are they aggressive and bleeding edge or they highly regulated and professional? Tailor your words to their interest.
Your LinkedIn profile should be maintained over time. If you don’t have one, you need one. While it feels like the only people on LinkedIn regularly are people selling something, it is the most powerful tool to maintain professional relationships and to present yourself / services.
* Profile – job descriptions, referrals, articles
* Networking – ask contacts to introduce you to their contacts
* LinkedIn Best Practices – LinkedIn Best Practices – Mike Shelah Consulting offers seminars on how to maximize LinkedIn.
Since omni channel is a successful strategy that maximizes your odds, reach out to organizations via networking, websites and recruiters.
Make a list of everyone you know who has ties to your career.
* Former Colleagues
* User Group friends
* College Friends
* Parents from your children’s groups
* Rolodex / business card collections
Create a rough order of influence/interest/assistance they can be for you. Group them into weekly groups to contact. Contact people but keep it short and to the point. Don’t waste their time. Keep track of who responds and the rough status of the interaction.
Subject: My New Job Search
I have begun my new job search. I’m interested in the following areas, roles, industries, etc. Do you have any advice or contacts that can help me? I am attaching my resume in case it is needed.
There are a ton of websites out there. Whether they will be around in 10 years is an interesting study. These are useful in April 2018. These websites will require you create a username and password and an uploaded resume. Various ones offer advice on your resume, communications, interview questions. Some allow search push notifications that you can automate. Some offer consultation services from either the main company or 3rd party services.
There are several pluses working with recruiters. You get to practice your communication skills. They can provide objective review of your market value. They may have ties to companies you are interested in working for prior to jobs getting posted. They reduce the effort the company must put into locating you, which gives the hiring manager more time. While almost all “eat what they hunt” their strategies for hunting can be diverse. Some convert your resume to a standard format, others take the resume you create. Some want a list of all the prior places you have applied. Some will require contact with current company technical references prior to submitting your information to their clients. Others will seek you out. I recommend only working with recruiters that check with you prior to submitting your information. When you contact recruiters, it is important to manage the process on your side. The following procedures will minimize discord.
- Track what potential employers have your information and what resumes have been sent.
- Share with each recruiter that you are working with other recruiters.
- Reach out to them on a scheduled basis so you are not forgotten.
- Record Recruiter name, company name, and your resume version.
- As the process progresses, share with all recruiters / potential employers your status so they understand timing.
Placement Firms /Recruiters
- Denzel Group
- C2 Search Group
- Sudina search
- TEK Systems
- Strategic Resource Group
- Knak Digital
- Kingfish Technologies
* Website – what is their mission, services, clients.
* Employee Contact Interviews / Conversations.
* Glassdoor.com company reviews – write a review and you get access to others’ opinions. Use common sense and read the reviews so you can filter out the potential bitter person or marketing or HR prose.
* Indeed.com company reviews – no username required.
* Content Preparation – search for most common questions in your role to see how you do. Bring a copy of your resume, notes, pen, identification. Come prepared with a list of questions that can help you choose what is appropriate or most relevant to ask.
Dress – professional presentation – dress for the job you want. Remember it is better to over dress than under dress.
Manners – treat everyone you meet well – every day.
Who is interviewing you? Did you meet your boss, your peers, your direct reports (if applicable)? How in depth were their questions? Were you challenged? Is there the opportunity to learn? Can you contribute?
Two Way Interviews – Company, Department, Role – Remember you are looking for the right fit at all 3 levels. While nothing is perfect, this isn’t about winning the interview at any cost. That old-style approach is short sighted as you may miss an opportunity for a “right” fit because of the “right now” fit.
Company questions – how do they make their money? How do they measure success? In terms of philosophy what is the typical order of priority between timeliness, scope, costs, value, quality? What is the corporate philosophy regarding employees? Are they considered old school line workers to be “managed”, knowledge workers that need to be “led”, whole people that are to be supported in evolving into their best selves? You should make up your mind what you hope to get from your employment and see if they match. How are employees evaluated? Does the company expect complete feedback such as 360-degree surveys for instance? What structural changes have occurred with employee changes in the last 6 to 12 months?
Department questions – How is the department structured? How many employees in what roles? What is the tenure in the department? How does the department handle outsourcing and offshoring? Why do employees work there? What keeps them at the company? What is the backlog? How many projects are active? What is the duration of the typical projects? How often do people work weekends and evenings? What is the department most proud of? Who was involved? Can they describe their typical SDLC process? How up to date is their technology? What is their computer replacement philosophy? How do they share information?
Role questions – How is your role involved with income generation? Does the boss understand the job you are interviewing for? What are their people skills? Are their employees a high priority to them? How do your teammates bring up ideas and concerns to their boss? Why is this role being offered? Is it a replacement, a reorganization or an expansion?
Job Selection / Offer Evaluation
Company – What industry is the company involved with? How big is that industry in your region / nationally?
Content – What is the role you will play? Can you execute and meet or exceed expectations?
Career – How does this fit w/ traditional 5-year goals?
Culture – Restrictions? Are side jobs discouraged? Do people go to lunch together? When people say the best part of the company is the people that work here, ask them for specific examples of people or interactions that make this company so great.
Coach – Who will be your boss? What do your instincts say about the individual? Do they understand the job you are going to do and can offer coaching? How do other employees respond to them?
Compensation – healthcare, paid time off, 401k match, education subsidy, salary.
Commute / Work Life Balance – Commutes over an hour are a common reason people leave jobs. Does this job offer work from home after a year or once you have proven yourself competent and trust worthy?
While the 4 W’s are contained in the 7 C’s, I list them here because they are worth more to me and helped me make my decisions.
Who you work for
Who you work with
What you do
What you earn
Head and Heart
While both models are quantifiable ways to make your decisions, they don’t give you the complete picture. Your heart / instincts will provide you feedback that should never be ignored. What do your instincts say when you are in the work area? Are the offices / cubicles decorated? When you have multiple offers it is hard to decide because you may want to work at all the opportunities. Ask yourself “What if I couldn’t work here?”. How bad does that feel? If you are a 7 habits person, which position is closer to your life mission statement?
“ARCHIVE” – Resigning your current job
The joke I’ve had for years is the first week the short timer mourns the loss of your company and the second week they focus on success with their new employer. You always want to finish strong regardless of the circumstances. Your legacy will be remembered for years after you are gone. Don’t let a bad ending tarnish that reputation if possible. Don’t resign until you have a written offer.
Protect This House
Hopefully you still care about your ex-coworkers. Do your best to ensure your leaving doesn’t harm anyone. Even if no one remembers how you left, you will remember how you left the organization. Leave strong so that you can reflect on your behavior and feel pride in making the right decisions. As we get older our legacy becomes more important. Live up to who you want to be.
* Resignation – Give your boss 2+ weeks’ notice in the US. I have been told security and sales people have special considerations and can find themselves released immediately without pay. I still recommend you act professionally and reduce stress on your employer, if not for them, for your dignity and pride. If the company is the kind that would release you instantly and not cover the 2 weeks of employment typically expected, you should have a sense of that while employed. If you take the high road you can look back on that for the rest of your life. That sense of pride is worth 2 weeks salary. Provide the resignation in writing. Search the internet for examples of resignation letters so you have all the appropriate information they will need.
* Responsibilities – If you have the opportunity, identify what you do, who can perform these tasks, measure confidence of success (yours first and theirs when your resignation is public), risk assess by looking at lowest overall confidence in task success and document those first before you depart.
* Make sure your work documents are checked in the appropriate systems (Content management systems, intranets, code repositories, etc.). People should not have to go to your magic file and your workstation. Purge any information that is redundant or deprecated. If you keep documents under your account, move them to a standard place so that your specific authorization is not needed.
* Personal Info purge – Don’t use your professional email or contact information for personal use. If you do, start segregating them when you start looking for employment. Make sure to check your contacts, calendar, emails and separate them. Get in the habit of keeping anything personal or private under a separate folder structure so that the separation is clean.
* Security – identify any accounts not controlled by main security and ask they be turned off in writing.
* Company Credit Cards -cancel them yourself, cut them up and turn them in to HR when you leave.
* Turn in Badge(s), Key(s), Parking passes.
* Group Password(s) – if you know any group them together and turn them over to appropriate authorities. You are not only protecting them but yourself as well. Hopefully the organization follows security best practices and changes them.
* 401K transfer – either your next job or your financial advisors.
* Paystubs, W2 – Get copies before you leave.
* COBRA – find out how much it will cost you if you or your family have medical issues. Now, I’ve been told you don’t have to buy Cobra up front but can enact it if an emergency occurs.
* Calculate your PTO so you know if you are owed anything.
* Submit your expenses promptly.
* HSA – this should be yours after you leave the organization. Confirm if there are any fees.
“ARRIVE” – Starting your new job
What can you do to prepare for the job before you arrive? Are there industry websites, associations, specific toolsets, LinkedIn reviews of your team that you can do?
Once you show up for the first day it is time to Listen, Listen, Listen – practice active listening. To confirm your understanding, paraphrase what you hear from people. Write down what you are learning and review it weekly so it becomes second nature. Keep your counsel to yourself until you know the reasons why processes and procedures exist, especially if you haven’t learned what is dependent on unusual items. Hopefully the organization has a punch list of activities and procedures to get your started. If not, make one up.
Here are a couple of ways to structure information:
- Environment – floor plans, software, workstations, servers, permissions (roles & responsibilities), workflow systems.
- Technology & technical skills.
- Business Rules / Vertical market – Who, what, when, where, why.
- Policy & Procedures – how things are done.
Another way to structure the information is COTA (clients, outputs, team, admin). Read this blog post for more information – https://www.LinkedIn.com/pulse/work-habits-hamster-revolution-jeff-morey/.
For more suggestions for Work Habits, check out this post https://www.linkedin.com/pulse/work-habits-getting-things-done-jeff-morey/.
“THRIVE” – Prospering in your life
You want to go through this process with as much sanity and kindness (to yourself, your family, friends, co-workers). To do that, you need to “put your oxygen mask on first”. You need to support your body, mind and spirit.
* Sleep – do whatever you can to get the right amount of sleep. Fitbit can be used to measure your success.
* Nutrition – protein is your friend. We wish carbs were, but they aren’t. You need to fit in your interview clothes.
* Exercise – cardio helps your brain; weight training improves your immune system.
* Motivation – youtube – ex: Matseuz M https://www.youtube.com/user/TheMiro0r, Get fired up in the mornings.
* 7 Habits – see this link for more. https://www.linkedin.com/pulse/7-habits-stephen-covey-jeff-morey/
* Work Specific Skills – MOOC – low cost and free education is available. In this world, we need to remain competitive.
* Meditation – 10 minutes a day – headspace phone app is highly recommended.
* Gratitude – list 3 things each day you are grateful. Big or small, it doesn’t matter. Review it when you need a boost.
* Pay it Forward – Keep track of those who help you in small and large ways. Make sure to thank them. Make sure to make the world a little better when you can.
Thanks for taking the time to read this over. Please share your thoughts and strategies on your job search.