Career Navigation: Hitting Traffic Cones and a few Pedestrians

An avid follower of  Recruiters Couch wrote to me this week to tell me that he had, after two years of searching, found his next job.  He wanted to share some of the things he had learned and so, this week, I turn it over to him.

After a redundancy from a major corporation two years ago, I began the search for my next career step.  With a complacent economy in 2009, a rocky recovery in 2010 and a slow start to 2011, I recognised it would be harder to find the next career step, but failed to realise the biggest challenge would be myself.

Unlike some candidates, I found it easy to reassure myself that re-employment was inevitable with my diverse skill set and outgoing personality.   Harder to do, was avoid hitting those pesky traffic cones (okay, and a few pedestrians).

Here is a list of my best (hard learned) advice:

  1. Leave.  That’s right, get out!  Jump on a plane and go.  Anywhere.  Now!  Redundancy is tough, celebration is easy.  Recognise you have a great opportunity to travel and take it…. You deserve a couple of weeks off before you start your search. [I did get this bit right (several times)!]
  2. Find your most honest advocate (and it’s not yourself!).  Trust, listen and learn from them – even when their advice is contrary to what you believe, try it.  You may be shocked by the difference their advice makes. [I hit about seven traffic cones before learning this lesson]
  3. An out of control driver, inevitably crashes their car (in a big way!).  Try to convey control over your career path and a logical flow to your career.  [Five more traffic cones and a concussion!]
  4. Good bones + great accessories.  Make your cover letter and résumé as easy for the recruiter to say ‘yes’ – echo key skills / characteristics from the job description in both, with matching accomplishments from your employment history. [One traffic cone, many drafts
  5. Run, don’t walk from bad recruiters.  I had the best result with recruiters who shared my professional designation and treated me like a valuable commodity.  Request another recruiter or change firms if you are not feeling ‘the love’. [Two pedestrians and innumerable expletives]
  6. Speed date.  Invite relevant key resources at your ‘ideal’ companies to coffee (search LinkedIn; ‘follow’ their company while you are there). E-mail a request for 15 minutes to discuss their careers and what has made them successful. Take notes, don’t ask for a job! [Invaluable advice to avoid six traffic cones]
  7. Wherever possible, never settle.  I understand if you need to take something ‘in the interim’ – just don’t tell your employer (or recruiter) this and promise to follow your dream as soon as the opportunity arises. [One swerve into oncoming traffic, quickly corrected]
  8. Finally… Ethics, professionalism, reputation, sanity.  If your new career is failing in any of these areas, resign before your career becomes the collateral damage of your employer’s car wreck. [One nasty four car collision avoided]

Today, I am happy to report I am about to embark on the next step in my career, in a role I am excited to take.  I hope you will find my advice valuable in avoiding your own traffic cones and please be nice to the pedestrians in your career search!


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