- Focus your resume and LinkedIn profile on your impact. Hiring managers and recruiters care about the impact you had on the company you work(ed) for. It’s the only indicator of probable future impact, on their company. Read my blog posts about adding accomplishments to your resume and using the “so what” test to zero in on your impact. If you don’t have a LinkedIn profile, get one!
- Volunteer your services somewhere you can use your marketable skills and have an impact. Volunteering also is known as “pro bono” service (pro bono is short for the Latin pro bono publico meaning “for the public good”). Yes, think non-profits but I also urge you to consider offering your services for free to your friends and former colleagues, to local small businesses, to solo-preneurs, or even big companies where you can do substantive work for free – maybe you help out a friend or former colleague with a big project. People usually want to know why you would do something for free, or they don’t trust you, so be open about wanting to keep your skills up-to-date and to have an impact you can talk about at job interviews.
- Stay top-of-mind among your contacts and connections. Staying top-of-mind means people see your name or face often enough that they will think of you when a job opportunity comes up. It means showcasing your skills and expertise so people know what you are good at and want to do next. Most of all, it means using LinkedIn. Post updates about your industry and occupation. You can do this while you’re reading something on-line, by using the “share” buttons. Add a comment that shows you have thought about the piece. If you’re a writer, start blogging on a free WordPress.com site and on LinkedIn, to showcase your writing skills.
Reach out to “weak” connections as you network. Think of people you used to work with, the people at the dog park, members of your place of worship (if you have one), alumni of your college, friends of your siblings or parents. Why? Because according to Mark Granovetters’s landmark study from 1973, weak ties are much more effective means for transmitting new information. Cornell professors, David Easley and Jon Kleinberg in Networks, Crowds, and Markets, explain: “The closely-knit groups that you belong to, though they are filled with people eager to help, are also filled with people who know roughly the same things that you do.” Kevin McKeown summarizes: “our distant acquaintances have the ability to expose you to job openings that you and your friends just can’t know about.”
- Focus on what you’re looking for. I’ve written before about “intention statements” or what other call “elevator speeches” that summarize the skills you want to use to have a certain impact on a company and/or field. When you are focused, you engender confidence in other people that you know what you want, and what you can offer an employer. Broadcast your intention statement on Facebook and Twitter and LinkedIn, if you are unemployed and have no fear of your employer finding out. Tell people what you’re looking for at social gatherings, standing on the sidelines at a child’s sport game, at the hair stylist or barber, at networking events, and at job seeker support groups. Remember that even if someone is unemployed, they do know people who are employed and perhaps in your field – and vice versa. You can help someone else network and sharpen their intention statement.