Today, I spoke to Melissa Cooley, Melissa is a career and job search expert with a passion for helping people reach their goals and maximize their potential. As the founder of The Job Quest, she partners with both job seekers and solo-preneurs, steadfastly targeting their desired outcomes and outlining the steps necessary to attain those outcomes. She also helps clients identify their core values, their personal mission, and their vision of the future to develop personal brands that are congruent with their true selves.
Mohammed: What is your ideal job search strategy for job seekers to find their next dream job quickly?
Melissa: Before launching into a job search, job seekers should have a firm foundation laid with the various tools they will need:
- A good self-awareness of who they are and what they want to get out of the job hunt,
- A résumé filled with outcome-oriented accomplishments,
- A LinkedIn profile that paints a vivid picture of who they are and what people think about them, and
- A team of trusted advisors to bounce ideas off of and to go to when support is needed.
There can be other components that make up the foundation (some people start a blog, etc.), but I think the above four items are critical. Ideally, these are all items job seekers have up-to-date as part of a good career management strategy, not just something that they have to throw together because a sudden layoff necessitates it.
With this foundation, then the job search should be primarily about networking, both online and in-person. Statistics say that around 70% of all jobs are found because of a personal contact, so networking is an avenue that should not be ignored!
Online networking is great for connecting with people you would possibly never meet, as well as staying current with people you already know. Participating in LinkedIn discussions, leaving comments on industry blogs, and engaging in Twitter activities that add value to your field (e.g. retweeting interesting posts, creating public lists of key people) are three ways for others to get to know you and understand what knowledge and insights you bring that can enrich industry conversations. As newer relationships develop, unexpected opportunities to collaborate may present themselves. Additional introductions that widen your circle may also come about as a result.
Whenever possible, meet those online connections face-to-face. In-person meetings have a way of taking the professional relationship with the other person to the next level. It makes that bond more tangible, heightens the level of trust, and (in existing connections) renews friendships. People who have met you in person will tend to think of you more often when job openings or other opportunities arise because they have a better idea of your personality and what could constitute a good fit.
Mohammed: In the workplace, how do people cope with stereotypes, racism, and ageism? Do you think it’s better to inform the management about racism conflicts or solve it in a friendly manner?
Melissa: Despite all the progress that has been made to improve the workplace environment, stereotyping and discrimination are still issues that need to be addressed.
If it seems that discrimination has happened, the person who feels wronged should first talk with the other party in a calm, open manner. What if the other person did not mean to be offensive? By being composed and taking the direct approach as a first step, it’s possible that a misunderstanding will be discovered. By transforming the situation into a “teachable moment,” the person who was offended can educate the other person as to why his/her actions were offensive and what to do to avoid such issues in the future. It can be a win-win for everyone involved.
Unfortunately, not all circumstances are unintentional. If someone purposefully commits an act of discrimination and continues to provoke when approached about it, then management should be informed so they can intervene. Discrimination should not be tolerated in the workplace. Alerting supervisors to the situation can also open the door to discussions about having diversity training. By instituting a diversity training program, the company can emphasize their position on discrimination, as well as clearly demonstrate the parameters for acceptable and unacceptable behavior.
Mohammed: Do you believe that people today need to have multiple sources of income – or career acts?
Melissa: I recently read the post “What’s Your Side Hustle?” by Pam Slim, which speaks to this same concept. While she categorizes a side hustle as an entrepreneurial effort, I think that any other income-generating activity outside of full-time employment would fit the bill.
I can see both sides of the coin in this issue: In today’s economy and with the changes that we are seeing in terms of corporate loyalty to employees, it makes some sense to have something in addition to a full-time job. The safety net that a second source of income provides can make the increased uncertainty a lot less stressful. On the other hand, there are other demands placed on people outside of work – family, friends, community – not to mention other considerations like one’s own health. If everything is put into a work focus but then other facets of life suffer, that doesn’t make for a good situation.
Because of the two viewpoints, it’s essential to analyze the situation and prioritize the important things in life. Don’t beat it to death by going in circles asking endless “What if” questions, but just be aware that whatever choice is made will affect another part of life. By being cognizant of what is happening, keeping control of the balance is easier.
Spotlight: Confused with the job search? Looking for guidance in managing your career? Contact Melissa Cooley at The Job Quest. She’ll help you find your way. She cares about your success as if it were her own.