It’s the holidays. Yep, already. Time for office holiday parties. Copious tins filled with those obscenely delicious Scandinavian cookies. Bad sweater design. You know the drill. But once the dust settles and your holiday spirit gives way to reason, you might realize that you kinda hate your job. Which means it’s time to go!
The process of finding a new job has evolved over time. Where once we could simply pull up Craigslist and find relevant roles by the dozen, searches are now conducted on ubiquitous sites like LinkedIn, Indeed and Glassdoor. LinkedIn alone boasts over 500 million users on its platform. That’s a lot of dead bodies to climb over to land a job. But there are ways to prepare yourself and line jump the samesters still wearing nude colored shoes to interviews.
I travel the world teaching C-suite Executive Assistants how to climb to the very top of their profession quickly. One of the most important and popular sections of the workshop I teach is around “Successfully Navigating the Recruiting Game.” I’ll share some of the most successful tips so that you can get prepared, stand out, and score your next role in record time.
1. Update that Resume!
A professional drummer friend of mine gave me some of the best advice I’ve ever heard.
Stay ready so that you don’t have to get ready.
I couldn’t agree more. One of the mightiest tools we have as “workers” is our resume. It’s our Excalibur when we look for jobs. I teach that it is something that should be updated and remain so every quarter, without fail.
Resumes have evolved in the way your job duties and responsibilities appear on the page. The new thing is to lead with your wins. Meaning, instead of blanketing your resume with all of the inane duties as assigned that literally everybody in the history of the world has on their resumes, you lead with the wins.
These are projects that you've worked on that either saved the company money, made the company money or in someway increased company productivity. Employers want to see how you could potentially add value to their company. Anyone can lick a damn stamp (is that still happening?), but if you can show that you’ve saved the company 10s or 100s of thousands of dollars with a hack or a change of vendor or even automating a paper process, you’ll easily stand out from the crowd of stamp lickers.
For example here’s a blurb from my personal resume:
Projects of Note:
1. Selected and implemented company’s inaugural, best-of benefits plans and wellness programs
2. Negotiated leases for company’s two office locations with two moves in 10 months
3. Managed construction, designed and furnished two offices; delivered turnkey in 28 and 24 days, respectively
4. Interim Controller managing annual Operations budget of ~$2.2M
1. Calendaring, travel coordination, expense reporting for CEO and team of 72 employees
2. Coordination of executive’s personal calendar, family travel and VIP events at home estate
3. Coordination of quarterly Board meetings and managing CEO’s participation on numerous external Boards and professional organizations
4. Monitoring and controlling company burn rate of $70M Series B funding with monthly reporting to CFO
5. Contract negotiation and remittance of all vendor and contractor invoices
I’m a career, top-earning Executive Assistant by trade. When a recruiter or employer looks at my resume and sees the phrase “Interim Controller managing annual Operations budget of ~$2.2M” you can rest assured I’ve instantly made it to the live battle round on The Voice.
Not many Executive Assistant resumes roll across recruiters’ desks looking like mine. I led with my wins vs. my Core Responsibilities (yawn) and I typically always get an email or a phone call wanting to know more. Lead with your wins. It’s the new black.
2. Get on LinkedIn and Live There for Awhile
LinkedIn is, hands down, THE platform for networking and job search. It’s rightfully called the “Facebook for Business.” And I couldn’t agree more. It is the perfect tool to leverage connections when you’re looking for your next role. However, you need to do a little bit of work before you’re cool enough to sit with us.
There is a decorum that you must learn, respect, then follow in order to be successful on LinkedIn. One thing I coach is to build your profile to “All-Star” status. It essentially requires you to take the time and fill out the barrage of questions, experience, volunteerism, special skills, recommendations, etc. asked by the site as you begin to fill out your profile. Having All-Star status allows others browsing your profile to know that you mean business.
A well-dressed, well executed photo is a MUST. (Eaaaasy on the Photoshop filters! OMG!) The job content from your physical resume should match exactly with the content in your LinkedIn resume. You’ll need to seek out about 3 or 4 recommendations from colleagues or past bosses as well in order to reach All-Star status.
Be really respectful if you reach out to a 2nd degree connection at a company you want to work at or if you’re requesting/making some sort of introduction. The easiest way to shoot yourself in the foot is to randomly reach out to someone who has no clue who you are and either say nothing or be aggressive in your request. The goal is to succinctly introduce yourself and ask to be connected. Once they accept, then you hit them with the request. NOT before. Or you will be banished to f*cktard island. I’ve sent many an idiot there myself. It’s quite liberating.
3. Learn How to Network Effectively
Your palms just got sweaty, huh? Good! In 2016, an independent study found that 85% of critical positions were filled via networking. Although we live in a society that essentially thrives via mobile phone, good, old fashioned networking still remains king when it comes to landing a good job quickly. I’m what’s called an extroverted introvert. Which essentially means I can play the game and talk the talk effectively, but I’d much sooner gouge my eyes out with the sharp edge of a Taylor Dayne cd cover than “work” a room full of randos hell bent on (gulp!) small talk.
However, my last two jobs came from mining my network. I treated people to coffee. I asked them to keep an eye out for anyone looking for a kick-ass Assistant. I attached resumes to every online conversation I had so that they had it at the ready. And in about a month I had 3 job offers. To be clear, networking wears many cute coats. Choose at least a couple that feel comfortable to you. There are a consistent number of networking events hosted by companies looking to hire or social groups who have mastered bringing people together with alcohol and DJs.
My suggestion is that you grab a stack of business cards and attend at least a couple of them. I’ve found that they’re much less scary than they appear and the consistently awkward, High School moments that run like tapes in your head will quickly disappear once you start chatting with others in the room with the same anxieties and preconceptions. You never know, your next dream job at that “everything’s free” tech startup could be one networking event away!
4. Get a Recruiter
Go to the people with the jobs. It’s pretty simple. Your goal when searching for a new job is to get your resume in front of as many relevant eyes as possible. Yes, do all of the aforementioned. But be sure to add a specialist into the mix. Often recruiters have a more direct line to the companies you want to work for and have likely spent quality time meeting core members of the team. Which means they can offer up specific info on culture, working conditions, and those little nuance-y things that can often sway an applicant in one direction or the other. Additionally, they can advocate for you and apply a little, um, concealer in case you’re deficient in a requirement or two.
The best way to partner with a recruiter is to be VERY SPECIFIC about what type of role you want and the type of company or team you want to join. Telling a busy-ass recruiter, “Here’s my resume. Let me know if anything interesting comes across your desk,” will likely mean your resume is competing in the super-secret, paper airplane contest recruiters held throughout the day for the non-respectful-of-time-and-effort idiots who would even dare. BE SPECIFIC!
5. Be Patient. Be Diligent
Depending upon your industry and location, it now takes about 3 months to land your next role. The market is still hot. Which means competition is intense. Employers are seeing everybody and their mama with each of these roles instead of pulling the trigger quickly like they did in the 2000s. It takes time. Simple as that. So, get yourself prepared and start your search early, realizing that it’s probably going to take a little while. And be diligent. Check in with your recruiter every Friday. Attend as many networking events as you can handle. Reach out to people a couple of times vs. just once as we’re all busy and often need reminders. Again, be diligent. If you want something, put in the work to get it. Don’t look at it as being annoying. Look at it as doing the work necessary to secure your future.
Finding a new job is a chore. I’m not going to blow sunshine up your nethers and tell you it isn’t. However, if you’re prepared, have the correct attitude, are willing to put in the work and maybe risk a little embarrassment, you’ll be shocked to find that chance will smile on you much quicker than if you blindly applied to a bunch of job postings and sat on your hands. Networking is king. But hedge your bets and follow all of the steps above. You’ll win. I promise.
Phoenix is coaching and supporting American billionaires, CEOs and executive teams in tech, retail and banking for over 25 years. He also founded and created MEGA Assistant University, a revolutionary skills and mindset “boot camp” for top Executive and Personal Assistants who want to level up quickly and begin forging a mutually successful business partnership with their executives and teams. Phoenix holds a Bachelors of Arts in European Studies/Civilisation from Trinity College Dublin.