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Tips from a Career Counselor

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Tips from a Career Counselor

I’ll never forget the tap on the shoulder from the woman in H.R. She asked me my name, so she could make sure she was delivering the news to the right person. Twenty minutes later I was driving home without a job and without a plan.

Shortly after that, I was in the office of Tim Dugger, Career Coach and owner of Career Café in Indianapolis, IN. We worked out a plan together and eventually I was able to find work again. I recently sat down with Mr. Dugger to discuss his tips for helping others find work as quickly as possible.

Tell the World

“The very first thing people should do is tell everybody they know that they’re looking for a job,” says Dugger. “You’ll get back to them on the specifics, but get rid of the stigma right away.”

When Dugger says tell everyone he means everyone. Many people will alert their LinkedIn network and former clients or business partners, but not tell other people in their lives. “The three best ways to find a job are networking, networking and networking,” he says. Think of groups you are involved with outside of work and spread the word. Networking opportunities can happen in church, your child’s school, the Little League field or the grocery store.

There is no shame in being laid off. Keeping it a secret from friends, relatives or neighbors is shutting the door on possible leads for a new job. “The minute you put the word out there that you’re looking for work you’ve got people out there that are thinking about you and you don’t have to do it all yourself.”

Update Your Information

Dugger said he frequently has people come to him to rewrite their resumes. In order to do that, he works with them to answer three major questions.

1) What is the product we’re selling?

2) Who is it we’re selling it to?

3) Why should they buy that product over any other competing product?

The product is you. You are a person with a specific set of skills and experience. Some people have a tendency to downplay their skills or overlook parts of their work history. Take the time to figure out who you are and what skills you can bring to your next position.

Next, determine who could utilize that product. Create a target list of industries than can use your skills. Then drill deeper and find companies and perhaps even individuals that could use your skills. That’s where you begin to make headway and it’s the difference between trolling want ads applying for anything that seems remotely interesting and actively searching for the right opportunity for you.

The third part of the equation is to define what Dugger calls, “Your Big Dealness.” Figure out what it is about you that in that role makes you better than anybody else that they’re going to interview. This is no time to be humble. Better to think of a hundred things and then start crossing some off the list than immediately discount something. You need ammunition here.

Update your LinkedIn page with the words, “In Transition” after your name. That’s a phrase that headhunters use to identify people who are looking for work. Dugger prefers the term in transition over unemployed, which some choose to use on their LinkedIn profile. “In transition is a more positive statement. It means I’m going somewhere rather than I’m stuck somewhere,” he says.

Scour the market

Once you determine who you are and what you’re looking for the next step is to look on LinkedIn and Indeed.com to start looking for positions. But you need to go further than that once you find a position you’re interested in. Check out the company on LinkedIn and determine if you have “an in.” Ask that person to speak to the hiring manager on your behalf.

“You have to apply on line in most instances. That’s their system,” says Dugger. “But applying on line without figuring out who you know that works at that organization or who you know who knows someone at that organization (makes) your odds tiny in comparison.”

Dugger also recommends applying on line, then dropping off a hard copy of your resume and cover letter for a specific person. You’ve now given someone a physical object they need to deal with rather than an email they can simply delete. Doing this with smaller companies could also lead to getting on the spot interviews, which can get you started on your new career path sooner than those sitting at home clicking submit.


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