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Of Professionals and Job Seekers

September 26th, 2006

A few months ago I blogged about regaining your professional identity when you are unemployed. It was based on a presentation I saw (and have since seen it again) from a career coach. I was reminded of this post because yesterday I moved my “office” from my bedroom to a spare room in the basement. My new office has pictures of my family and other stuff that I had in my previous offices, and it feels so much more professional!

Anyway, the ideas in that coach’s presentation are simple:

– Professionals and Job Seekers view things differently
– Professionals and Job Seekers act differently
– Professionals and Job seekers prepare differently
– Professionals and Job Seekers are perceived differently

The message of the coach was basically this: Shed the Job Seeker image and get back your professional image. Instead of wimpily handing someone a resume which says “I need a job,” hand them a business card which says “I can bring value to you, and you should get to know me.”

Instead of walking into a job interview having studied the job description, realize that a job description may not have hit the nail on the head (after all, it was probably written by someone in HR that doesn’t know anything about the job, and the hiring manager may have other needs/wants). A professional will walk into that interview (especially if he really wants the job) having done great research on the person, the department, the company, and everyone’s sweet spots. And he will speak to those sweet spots! How is this done?

Professionals don’t find the sweet spots between the lines in the job description, they do research on-line and use their network to find out as much as they can. Would you, as a professional, ever make a presentation without knowing your facts? The more critical the meeting is, the more prepared you are. So don’t go into a job interview without real preparation!

In a networking environment a job seeker says “Hi, I’m Jason, I hear you have some job openings at XYZ Company.” A professional says anything but that, rather talking about the person they are talking with and trying to develop a relationship. And if appropriate, sharing some of their strengths or reasons why they would bring value to that person’s company or department (you see, it would help to know what the company or department’s needs are, right?).

And so, to wrap it up, where do you sit to do your job search (when you are not out networking)? Are you in a make-shift office that doesn’t even allow you to be a professional? Maybe you can carve out a little private space where you can enforce and regain your identity – not as a job seeker, but as a professional.

And while you are at it, work on developing your long-term personal branding strategy 😉

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