Have you recently been laid off? Or are you looking for a career change. Seattle / Bellevue is one of the hotter job markets. But do you know how to navigate the search effectively?
Here are some ideas to help you navigate this transition:
- Figure out your positive message – When you meet people, how do you naturally tell them that you are in the middle of a career transition? How do you mention “it” without turning the conversation into a downer? If you were laid off, fired, or quit, you are going to have to figure out a positive message. For example, I might say, “I am interested in opportunities in Data Science and eCommerce, and I looking for introductions to help with my career transition”, rather than “I lost my job, and really dislike my manager”. Which sounds like someone you would like to help with an introduction? Every interaction is an opportunity.
- Pick your exercise or hobby – join a casual sports league, or a fitness club. This will help you balance job search time, career improvement with staying physically and mentally healthy. Additionally, you will me people that can help introduce to opportunities. I personally am very active in USTA, a local recreational tennis league and have met great friends.
- Allocate Time and Place – Use your local library, favorite meet-up coffee spot to search for a job. If you receive outplacement services, leverage those to skill up and practice interviewing. Washington State has services via WorkSource. Take a free class on Linkedin, learn about career fairs, search for jobs as a supportive team with your advisor. I found the Redmond branch helpful with their proximity to Eastside tech. Searching for a role takes time, so make sure you block out hours in the week to do this, and do it!
- Skill Up – Do you recognize a gap in your skill set and what the market is demanding? I like to use the Edx.org, Coursera.org, and Lynda.com (free through SPL) to develop knowledge and new skills at free or low cost. This might be more cost effective than taking an accelerator / boot camp class. If you crave instructor and classmate interaction, the community college courses are an economical option: Bellevue College, or University of Washington Extension.
- Meetups and Events – Go to Meetup.com, and search Seattle. This is a good example: https://www.meetup.com/NewTechSeattle/. For example search for a programming meetup. Companies advertise and recruit through informational events. Differentiate yourself from the online applicants, and go find those companies and introductions. Applying online is so easy, and that’s why it has become more of a keywords game. General network sucks, go for targeted events, and know what you want to get out of it, and work towards that.
- Referrals – Setup informational meetings. Rather than asking for a job (it’s hard to respond to that), see if you can meet with someone in your field to learn more about that role or company. Once you find the company or role you like, customize your resume, and then find a referral. Learn as much as you can about that company. That way you get past their candidate tracking system, which is designed to screen out folks, as they get way too many applications. Use Facebook, Twitter, Linkedin, Instagram, your rolodex to reach out to relevant individuals for an honest conversation – maintain your reputation and don’t just use people.
- Local Associations – Participate in your local industry organization. For example, I might participate in PMI Seattle, Scrum Alliance, or IEEE Seattle. Find an active chapter and get involved. It expands the circle of potential great people you can meet.
- Local Technology Sites – I like to read Geekwire.com and see new jobs, company news, and events. Makes sense to read your industry journal. Another good one is Puget Sound Business Journal.
- Set Your Expectations / Know What You Want – What does the market want to hire? What are you good at? What do you like to do? The overlap or intersection of these three questions may be your best match.
- Organized – Now write down goals, and setup an action plan. Keep track of your time, and do an evaluation every week of what you learned, and where you are falling behind. Keep track of all your leads in a spreadsheet, and pursue that real life social network! Celebrate the victories of a phone screen, informational interview, or attending an event!
- Manage Cash Flow – Take a look at past monthly bank statements, and credit cards. On average how much does it cost you to pay for housing, food, and essentials? Then look at what items you can perhaps pare back on to give yourself a little more time window for the search. Look at your savings, and divide by our average monthly expenses, which will give you an idea of how many months you have to complete your job search / career transition.
- Practice – Know your strengths, and your most proud accomplishments. Practice saying it well with specifics. You will leverage these as examples of your ability in XYZ when interviewing. Know a strong opening, and closing statements. Practice and do your research on why that company and why that role. Know the questions you want to ask. Pick non-controversial topics to ask questions on. Ask questions such as: what needs to be solved by me in this role in the next 3 months?, what do you like about working at this company? It’s for you to figure out if this company is a good match.
- Your Support Team – Check-in with some other job searchers. What are they finding effective? Talk to an adviser about your search? Learn what they recommend. Do you have a mentor? What do they recommend? The job search is a lonely spot to be in, so talk and get help when you can.
- Positive – Smile, have a good attitude. People can read body language. Enjoy this journey as you transition to the next great opportunity.
Let me know if this was helpful and other tips you have. Have I missed something? Good luck.