If you're like most job seekers, you're spending your day searching job boards, sending your resume fiendishly to anything that looks close to what you might want to do and crossing your fingers that someone…ANYONE… will just call you in for an interview.
First… So you're feeling a little… let's face it… unmotivated, maybe bordering on apathetic. It happens to all of us at one time or another so first, please know: YOU ARE COMPLETELY NORMAL. You're allowed to have your feelings, and I always encourage family, friends and clients alike to REALLY FEEL them. What you're going through right now is no fun to say the least. But I also would not be doing my job and fulfilling my mission if I were to let you stay there too long.
So this is your official kick in the pants. Get up. No, really, right now. Stretch. Take three deep mind-clearing breaths. And set your mind to GET OUT. Out of your doldrums AND out from behind that computer. That's right: it's time to DO SOMETHING DIFFERENT.
My strongest recommendation for your "theme" for the next month:
Some ideas (and I and other readers welcome your comments below with more suggestions!):
CHECK THE CHAMBER. Does your local Chamber do ribbon cuttings for new members? You will find attendees to these events aren't the typical cast and crew of most networking events. Go and be ready to introduce yourself to all the new faces.
ATTEND GRAND OPENINGS. Keep an eye out for the businesses that are opening their doors at grand opening events. Again, not the usual cast of characters and a great way to meet the people from the surrounding businesses. Open houses, too. If you know of businesses holding open houses, go! For all the same reasons noted above.
GET SOME CLASS. Go to a computer class, a LinkedIn class, a class related to your hobby (art, cooking, wine tasting, pottery, quilting, golf, exercise, fly fishing…), something that engages your brain, helps you learn a new or keep up a skill, gets you into a space with others who are doing the same. The trick is you cannot be shy. Again, introduce yourself and start to make new connections.
"MEET UP." Love hiking? Speaking a foreign language? Check MeetUp.com for local "meetups" in your area to find like-minded people who enjoy the same activities you do. You'll have one thing instantly in common and may find that will accelerate the ice breaking to start talking about how you can support one another in other ways. You support them with what they need; they'll support you in your job search.
VOLUNTEER. Everyone and their grandmother will tell you that volunteering is a great resume builder and that volunteers often have the first "in" for positions as they are available. ("Duh," Meredith.) But I'm talking about volunteering for the sheer joy of helping someone (or some "thing," cause, crusade, etc.) else other than yourself. Go give to someone else selflessly for a day. Consider volunteering for a cause where you stay busy helping others and focus on their challenges rather than your own. Helping others gives you the satisfaction of knowing you are making a difference in the world. That alone will elevate your mood. And don't ignore those other volunteers. Have I said it enough? Introduce yourself and really connect with the other volunteers. You never know who they know.
GO TO LUNCH. Schedule lunch with former colleagues, community connections, employed friends and others who might know people you need to know who can help in your search. Buy them lunch (or coffee) in exchange for time to tap their expertise. Tapping into their ego in this way works. EVERYONE loves to be asked for their expert $0.02 and advice. Everyone. And it gets you out of the house. Be prepared with specifics you want to ask about. Make the most of your time and theirs. In the process you're starting to create champions and advocates for " Cause: You."
ASK. All this "getting out" is all very well and good, but make the most of it and ask people with whom you are developing these relationships for help with exactly what you need: introductions and referrals. Get specific: "I would love to meet anyone who works in XYZ industry, ABC company or holds 123 position in an organization. Do you know someone like that you could introduce me to?" Or "I saw an opening at ACME Company and remember you mentioning you knew people there. Would you help me be get my resume in front of some people there?"
FOLLOW-UPING. My friend TC of Very Direct Marketing coined the term to replace that nasty "c-c" word we all hate (Cold-calling). As you GET OUT and build your "database" (little black book, contacts in your Blackberry, friends on Facebook, connections on LinkedIn), you have to stay in touch. Contact them at least once a month to stay top of mind (another favorite TC-ism) and remind them how they can hep you. This includes your best friend's mother, the manicurist at the salon where you get your hair done even if she doesn't do your nails, the guy at Goodyear who changes the oil in your car, your favorite bartender and her manager.
BECAUSE NETWORKING WORKS.
"But, Meredith, I hate networking."
Maybe this will help motivate you to change your mind:
A GREAT ATTENTION GETTING resume. Even with all the social media in the world, you still have to have a resume. Consider it your personal brochure that answers, "What's in it for me if I hire you?" every hiring manager is asking. (Resume help here!)
A decent 30-second "commercial" describing what you're looking for, what you offer and how others can help. Again, the more specific, the easier it is for people to know how to help you.
Personal business cards. Yes, get business cards even if there's no company and title to put on them yet. Include all your contact information and consider using the space on the back of the card to put some "promotional" wording about why YOU are the best one for the job. VistaPrint.com has a nice selection of FREE business cards. You pay shipping.
A little courage. I promise, with practice, it gets easier.
And when you do, report back here! Tell us about your successes. Recall your funniest snafus. Let us help you refine your networking techniques to help you land that job faster!