As Senior Product Manager of JibberJobber, I have a lot of things I am working on. One of them is making sure my develops are working on the right things.
How do you figure out what they should work on, and when?
As Product Manager I have two Biggest Problems I’m working on: one is getting more people to sign up, the other is getting more of our users to upgrade.
As a a job seeker my two Biggest Problems are similar: one is getting more companies interested in me, the other is getting offers for the right jobs.
The PROBLEM for an business is more sales. But how do you get there? You don’t just work on “more sales,” you break it down and figure out smaller problems to address, and sometimes break those down to smaller problems. Eventually you have a big list of things to work on and then get to choose where to put your time and team.
Choosing one problem means putting off other problems. And that’s where it gets tricky. What if you put off the wrong problem for too long?
In JibberJobber we have broken down our PROBLEM and have identified smaller problems, and are strategically working on each of them. We’re methodologically working on what we think are the right ones, and then we’ll move to the next right ones, etc.
In your job search I know that your PROBLEM, not having a check, not having a job, or a title, is so big and distracting that it’s hard to think of anything else. You know you need to work on your LinkedIn Profile, or your resume, or prepare for an interview, etc., but the suffocating feeling of being a job seeker (who feels like you are spinning wheels) can overwhelm you to the point where you neglect the smaller problems… or the steps to solve your bigger problem.
Let me suggest that you break down your PROBLEM and then figure out what to focus on. Here are some ideas, with sub-ideas. Some of you need to work on some of these, others need to work on others… it’s a pretty individual thing:
Soft Skills: Listening, phone skills, empathy, work ethic, teamwork, tenacity, attitude, etc. Any of these can be a lifelong pursuit, but if you know you need to work on certain skills, learn where to start and what to do to improve them. This is the 7th habit from Covey (sharpen your saw).
Hard Skills: What do you need to do or show to prove that you can actually do the job? Perhaps this is through a degree, certifications, licenses, hours logged, new skills (breadth), or improving current skills (depth). This is also the 7th habit from Covey (sharpen your saw).
Job Search Marketing Material: Creating a master resume, crafting resumes based on postings, business cards, making your LinkedIn Profile better, etc. Don’t get hung up on these things for weeks, and neglect other things you should be doing (like talking to people!)
Your Presentation: Maybe an updated wardrobe, or just getting a haircut or makeover or something. Not necessary for everyone, but first impressions count, right? I went to my first big interview in a much outdated suit (but I still got the job :))
Networking: find networking events you should go to, schedule them in your calendar, actually go to them, meet with individuals one-on-one, and please, please: following-up!
Interview Skills: create your response(s) to “tell me about yourself, create short stories you can use in response to interview questions, plan your closing remarks, and script out responses to any question you can come up with.
Personal Marketing: Does anyone know who you are, and what you want? Do they know your target companies and what titles you are applying to? Your job, as a job seeker, is to get your name out. This means you have to get out, meet people, and (tactfully) communicate these things. Sure, you can (and should) do things on LinkedIn and through email, but don’t neglect communicating your brand with individuals and groups.
Personal Branding: What is your brand? Can you communicate it in such a way that people can understand and repeat it (even if they aren’t in your industry)? Refine your tagline. Define the main parts of your “claim,” and then figure out how to communicate those so people get your brand. Your personal branding strategy is a big part of your answer to how you’ll tap into the “hidden job market.”
What do you need to work on? Do you need a coach to help you?
Notice my question isn’t what is most comfortable for you to work on… it is, in order to get a job, what do you need to get fixed or resolved?
Make your own list, with priorities, and even if it’s uncomfortable, make sure you work on the right things!