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Landing Your Dream Job in a Soft Economy

August 2, 2009

I was recently laid off from my job in health care communications and instead of crying in my coffee, I went into full networking mode – informational interviews, reconnecting with my network, volunteering my time. This is a great opportunity to find out what YOU want to be when you grow up.

I used these tips to land a job in 6 weeks. It is hard work, I dedicated at least 6-hours a day, 5 days a week to getting my new position. Now I have a job that is a better fit for me than my last position and I’m happier than I’ve ever been in a job.

While a lot of these tips are focused on the “Available for Hire” (aka laid off) they apply for those lucky enough to be searching while still being employed.

Job Hunting Advice:

  • Publicize your “Available for Hire” status – If you are laid off – tell EVERYONE you know that you are looking – friends, family, neighbors, church/groups, etc. If you are not “available for hire” tell your circle of trusted friends/network.
  • Find People Who are Doing What You Want to Do – Check for associations and groups in your specific field – there are all sorts of very specific groups out there. In most cases, you don’t even need to become a member to go to the meetings/events.
  • Interview Your Dream Job – My biggest advice is to pick your dream job and cold call for an informational interview with a person in that field to learn how to get there and always leave with a new name to call. Be persistent with this one, I email people once a week until they cave in and meet with me. Once you get the interview, dress as if it was a real interview for a real job, prepare a list of questions, leave your resume at home and listen, listen, listen. People love the respect you give them by a professional appearance, love not being pressured with the hand off of a resume and LOVE giving advice. Soak it all in and make a new connection.
  • Weekly Update Emails – I send out a list of all the jobs I applied for during the week to my network of contacts to see if they knew anyone at the organizations and I started adding a list of organizations I wanted to get an informational interview. This is also a great way to keep your network working for you by reminding them that you are still looking and have them sending you new job ideas. I also use it as a cheeky check-in with my network, sharing celebrations and updates on my mental state 🙂
  • Use Your Network – I have a http://www.LinkedIn.com account and every time I got a bite I search by the company name to see if someone I knew had a connection and added every informational interview to that list. You can do the same thing this with site, now that you are a member.
  • Volunteer Your Skills – Doing professional volunteering in the indrusty/focus that you want to work is a great way to get exposure and help balance out the pain/stress of “self promotion” when your looking for a job. One great way to find a nonprofit that fits your passion is visit www.GenerousColorado.org. In my job hunt, I volunteered to do web copy writing for the Colorado Nonprofit Association. This opportunity has allowed me to prove my skills in a new setting, network with CNA staff and the other volunteer freelancers on the project, and I’ll get visibility with CNA Board.
  • Be Honest About Your Financial Reality – If you do get laid off, take a day or two to recenter yourself, make a burn book about your old boss, drink a little bit more…whatever makes you get over that loss. Now it’s cup half-full time! Do what you need to protect yourself financially – look at your budget, apply for unemployment, figure out milestones of when you have to “just take a job” to save yourself from the poor house. Also, take a hard look at what you were making before and what you really need to live on. This is the hardest thing for me, I shot up in salary very quickly and now the jobs I’m qualified for and want to do (2 very different things) make a lot less. It’s a hard pill to swallow but your paycheck is not your worth. In fact the position I accepted is 12% less than my previous position but we are doing just fine financially.
  • Be Positive – Nobody wants to hang out with a Debbie Downer. Keeping your chin up and know that the perfect opportunity is out there waiting for YOU.

Job Search Links – Here is what I check for new opportunities…

These are the two “google” like job search sites
http://www.simplyhired.com
http://www.indeed.com

Nonprofits:
Andrew Hudson’s List – http://www.prjobslist.com
Regis – http://www.regis.edu/browjob.1.asp?sctn=apg&p1=gp&p2=mnm&p3=npjb
SCFD – http://www.scfd.org/?page=jobs&sub=1
AZA – http://www.aza.org/JobListings/
Colorado Nonprofit Association – http://www.coloradononprofit.org

Universities/Education
www.HigherEdJobs.com
For most state schools and school districts you do have to regularly check their own job sites – some have job search agents that push lists to you email

Green/Sustainability
CORE – www.corecolorado.org – doesn’t have jobs but is a good networking site
GreenBiz – www.greenbiz.com
CASBA – http://www.sustainablecolorado.org/programs/casba/

You have to sort but I did get some hits off the national sites
www.careerbuilder.com
www.monster.com
www.hotjobs.com

Associations for Associations
ASAE – http://asi.careerhq.org/search/browse/
CSAE – http://careers.csaenet.org/search.cfm

Specific Professional Organizations
Colorado American Marketing Association – http://careers.coloradoama.com/jobdetail.cfm?job=3034361
Public Relations – http://www.prsacolorado.org/jobbank.cfm
Business Marketing – http://careerlink.marketing.org/search/browse/
Advertising/Marketing – www.talentzoo.com
Young Nonprofit Professionals Network Denver – http://www.ynpndenver.org/partners/become_a_sponsor.php
Boulder Marketing Group – http://www.bouldermarketinggroup.com/
ACC – http://www.advancecoloradocenter.com/
Business Communicators – http://www.iabc-colorado.com/

These were not fruitful for me but they might work well for you
www.realmatch.com
www.jobing.com
Craig’s List
www.JobFox.com

What sites have worked for you, am I missing a gold mine? Let me know!

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