There’s something about fall and back to school season that makes all of us think about fresh starts. Summer is a lull in career and school activity; the rules don’t apply. We go to the beach, bask in the pool in the back yard, or travel on vacation. We stop wearing shoes (and as many clothes as possible) and generally relax. It’s not uncommon for jobseekers to take the summer off to spend time with family and relax. If you’ve done this, it’s time to get back to work on your job search.
As you get serious again about your job search, take this opportunity to make a fresh start. Review your process from start to finish. Here are some suggestions.
First, take a fresh look at your daily routine. If you’re normally a morning person, you should tackle your writing and communication projects early in the day. Pack the kids off to school and sit down in your home office to retool your resume or write compelling cover letters. Hopefully, you’re also aware of what time of day you’re least alert and effective as well. That would be the time to do routine tasks like filing and getting organized.
Be sure to build in time for taking care of yourself in ways that keep your energy high. That means physical exercise and spiritual renewal. It also means taking time to visualize success and practice skills you may need to work on (think interviewing rehearsal, talking over the phone, or networking with strangers, if it’s hard for you.)
Next, take a look at your activity over the past few weeks or months. Are there leads you didn’t follow up on? Leads that seemed promising at the time but didn’t come through? Maybe it’s time to revisit them. Were you a top tier candidate for a job that was offered to another applicant? Check in with the hiring manager. You never know if the candidate of choice is not working out, or if the company may now have a new opening that might be a match for you. If it’s been more than a few months since you spoke to a recruiter or manager who had a great opportunity in the past, call or email again. It can’t hurt, and you might find that your timing is perfect for a new opportunity. Even if there’s no new activity on her end, you might mention what’s new on your end. Have you been volunteering or consulting? Have you added a new skill or certification?
Now that you’ve taken a look at former activity, consider how can you tackle new leads with a fresh approach. Make a commitment to expand your options (try for higher salaried jobs, for instance, or look at different job titles in your industry.) Change your cover letter or resume format. Look into industries you’ve never considered before. Ask people you meet some different questions. Start to follow a great career blog (oh look – you can cross that one off the list already.)
Resolve to meet a few new people each week – expanding your network is one of the best uses of your time in a job search. Set specific goals for coffee or meetings with friends and new acquaintances. While you’re at it, set goals for the number of resumes you send out and the number of calls you make. After all, if you’re training for a marathon, you don’t simply run each day until you’re tired or don’t feel like it. You create a training plan and stick to the miles you set for each day. Your job search should be just as disciplined. When you do get tired or discouraged, visualize the goal line – your first day on the new job.