In Upstate NY, we call January and February the winter slog. These are the two winter months that you have to get through. Survive through February until you see the first inkling that spring will eventually return, you can take off two extra layers of clothing, and venture outside the walls of your home. When you work in sales, January and February are traditional months for the annual sales kickoff meeting. Viewing recent LinkedIn posts and photos from connections attending this year’s sales kickoff meetings has been fun and served as inspiration for today’s job search post.
Years ago, I attended a sales kickoff meeting in Boston. We were a small company at the time and could not afford to meet in a tropical location. So, Boston in January it was for our sales crew. Strike one for kickoff motivation. Each kickoff typically had a theme. I will never forget that year’s kickoff theme: “Pick Up the Pace.” When I reminisce with former colleagues, we still chuckle at that theme. I am certain the word “Pace” was an acronym designed to highlight the upcoming year’s strategic objectives. But any corporate meaning was lost over the years. All that remains is our interpretation. The prior year’s sales results must not have been enough, so we had better pick up the pace and start running faster! Strike two for kickoff motivation.
Every good motivational theme deserves a second chance. I refuse to strike out, so there will be no strike three here. When it comes to your job search, you need to pick up the pace, literally and figuratively. I have written previously that if you are unemployed or between positions, you should approach your job search as if the search itself were your full-time job. With your job search, you work for the most important and valuable company on the planet, Me Incorporated. At Me Inc., we don’t hire slackers. At Me Inc., we look for motivated employees that are willing to invest the necessary time and energy to win the job search. And equally important, in our job search, we want employees who can indeed pick up the pace. What do I mean by PACE in your job search?
P = Planning
If you are heading off in your car to a new destination, you set your destination on the GPS or Waze. You check the engine fluids, gas up the car (and always, always get a bag of Combos!). In other words, you plan and prepare to ensure that you will reach your destination. A successful job search is no different. Several key fundamental elements of planning for an effective job search include: Establish your job search weekly work schedule; Plan and allocate your work time across multiple job search strategies; Select your target career, industry, and position; Identify your target company size and geographic preference; and Research your target industry and organizations.
A = Advertising
How will anyone ever buy anything from Me Inc. if they don’t know it exists, what it offers and why it is better than anything else on the market? The answer is that they will not buy and by buy I mean to offer you a job. That is where advertising comes into the picture. In the job search process, advertising equals personal branding. Your personal brand is what makes you different and unique and enables you to stand out from other job seekers with a compelling value proposition for a future employer. There are four essential elements to your brand: Elevator Pitch, Resume, Cover Letter, and the LinkedIn profile.
C = Connect
The importance of building a large and active professional network for the success of your job search can’t be understated. Whether you look at statistics from the US Department of Labor, talk about the hidden job market or research LinkedIn statistics on the correlation between referrals and job offers, the facts are indisputable. Connections and networking are the keys to finding your next job.
E = Excel
No not the spreadsheet (although I do live for a well formatted Excel file as many of my former coworkers will attest). When I say excel, I am referring to the interview process. I advocate viewing the job search process as a sales cycle. You must view your job search through the lens of a sales representative. From that perspective, an interview is a sales call or more specifically a sales presentation. In the hiring manager interview, you will build rapport with your customer, demonstrate how you will solve the pain point of the open position, and add value to the team and the organization. To excel in the interview, you need practice and preparation. Excel and you will close the order and get the job offer.
Plan for your job search. Advertise your brand. Connect with your network. And Excel in the interview. I like this version of PACE a whole lot more than merely being told to run faster in the snow that cold week many years ago in Boston!
Dan Troup is the Managing Director of the AdvantEdge Careers coaching service. If you are interested in learning more about how a job search expert and certified career coach can assist you, please contact AdvantEdge Careers for a free initial consultation.