It’s probably the last thing you want to think about when you get home from work, but employed people must spend 15 hours a week on their searches to get any momentum going. And you’ve got to figure out how to do that. This doesn’t mean daytime hours. Most of your search time is spent during evenings and weekends. It’s mostly research and writing to get meetings and writing to follow up after meetings. You spend a relatively small amount of time actually meeting with people. If you’re employed, you’ll meet with perhaps two people per week when you have achieved full momentum. If you’re unemployed, then it’s five to ten people per week.
If you are working 70 hours a week and see no way out of that, you are stuck in your present job. You are going nowhere. You must at least have your evenings and weekends. You have to make it happen somehow.
A long time ago, I had to conduct an out-of-town search. I was living in Lancaster, Pennsylvania, and I was looking for a job in Manhattan. I took off as a vacation day every other Friday and I made sure I met with four people on those Fridays when I was in Manhattan. So I averaged two people per week. That’s the quantity you need to achieve momentum in a part-time search; otherwise nothing happens and you end up saying, “I’ve been searching forever, and nothing is happening.” It’s because you don’t have the quantity required for results.
You can only make that happen if you have an organized, methodical search – as opposed to one where you’re answering ads and responding to requests to come in for an interview. At The Five O’Clock Club, we want job hunters to come up with a target list of organizations that would be right for them. You also join associations that have to do with your target markets. Those meetings happen at night and are a wonderful opportunity to network in your targeted fields. You might also get a directory of members you could write to. Or you could join the planning or new-members committee and meet people that way. ALL of this is part of a good job search.
As part of an organized, methodical search, you need to develop a list of people with whom you would like to meet; this means research—a lot of research. If you are employed, the good news is that research does not take time away from your job. You can do it in the evenings and weekends. And you can write letters on evenings and weekends. This takes a great deal of time, but sending targeted letter means you are more likely to get in to see the right people: the right people at the right levels at the right organizations—whether or not they have openings right now. That’s the goal of your search. You are not chasing jobs; you are chasing companies and hiring managers. It’s okay if they don’t have an opening right now. You will need to be in touch on a regular basis with those “right” people at the right levels in the right organizations, and you are then likely to end up with multiple offers. If your employer notices that you seem to connecting with a lot of people, you can say that you are keeping up with the industry; that you have joined a couple of associations and are getting to learn more about the field, which will help you in your job.
Martin’s story provides a good example of an employee enhancing his personal value—with payoff. He is the head of the direct-marketing arm of a major not-for-profit. He felt that he was undervalued, and perhaps even being squeezed out. He wanted to get into the for-profit world. To learn more about this target area, his coach and group at The Five O’Clock Club suggested he read the trade journals, join associations having to do with direct marketing, and get to know people in the field. Martin learned so much in his intensive research that he went a few steps further: he spoke at the association meetings, began writing for the trade journals, and even appeared on the cover of one prestigious trade magazine. HE WAS JOB HUNTING!
Martin’s new visibility caught the attention of his current employer, who began to value him much more than before. Coincidentally, Martin’s boss moved elsewhere in the organization. Martin was surprised when he was asked to take his boss’s job. That promotion eased Martin’s pressure to find a new job quickly. In addition, his résumé was looking better and better.
Later, he decided to look outside again, but now he had a new title and more experience, as well as his new visibility as a guru in the direct marketing field. Yes, he was employed and looking and landed two terrific offers in the direct marketing field in for-profit organizations.
A few words about tactics. For example, how to dress. One employer recently said to me, “I don’t think he’s looking elsewhere because of the way he dresses every day. He can’t be going on interviews.” Well, if you make a habit of dressing well all the time, your ‘interview suit’ won’t be a tip-off. But if you are carrying out a well-organized search, you may be able to take vacation days to go on several interviews at once. If you are NOT organized, then you are meeting with people catch-as-catch-can and have to think up excuses. One thing working in your favor: employers who are interviewing candidates understand that you have to meet them in early morning or very late afternoons because of your work hours.
And here’s another suggestion about finding interview time: I have to see various doctors for various things. It’s that time of year when I do that. You too might be seeing various doctors for various things. When I’m out of the office nobody suspects I might be job searching—it’s just that time of year. But if your search is disorganized, ‘that time of year’ will pass and you will have lost interview opportunities.
What should you tell your present employer? Is honesty the best policy? No. Do NOT tell your boss that you are looking. Chances are, your boss will want you out of there as soon as possible. Of course your boss takes the same approach to ‘honesty’: your boss will never tell you when he or she is looking for a replacement for you!
To see whether your search is organized, take our mini-course in the How to Find a Job section of fiveoclockclub.com.