Life Lessons Learned While Job Searching

Currently I’m a full-time job seeker – and it’s possible I’ve read a thousand career advice or job seeking articles recently, even though I didn’t exactly seek them out. They just seem to find me!  Actually I can lay blame, it’s the LinkedIn Homepage.  But there were some really good tidbits that have resonated with me about all aspects of a career…so may I share?
1.  Don’t put life on pause just because your searching. 
Keep making connections, attend conferences, workshops or webinars.  Take those weekend trips, keep in touch with your friends and very, very importantly continue to get exercise.  Window shopping or CrossFit, it all counts.  Exercise, travel, and doing other activities that make you super happy are even more important during this time.  Simply put they improve your spirits, which is key since it’s a time well known to be filled with ups and downs.  Also, being able to share recent happenings in your life while interviewing allows your personality to shine through, part of what the hiring team wants to see.  The worst thing you can do is go in a hole heads-down, spending every waking moment scrubbing the job boards – that will do no one any good.
2.  When leaving a company, don’t burn bridges.
Yes you’ve heard this one, but here’s an add on – go the extra mile by keeping in touch with colleagues (and more than just on LinkedIn.)  Simple gestures will be sure to make them your biggest fans when you need a hand or recommendation down the road.  “Like” their company Facebook updates, send congratulatory notes when they get promotions, mail your old team a case of beer when they have a major project launch.  They may still be at your previous job, but they won’t be forever.  Guaranteed.
3.  Know exactly what you want in your next job – size, location, project specifics.  You certainly don’t see yourself as a fill in the blank employee so make sure you don’t let it happen.  Don’t take the first job offer that comes along for fear of missing out.  Every company you join is a reflection of you, and if things don’t work out you’ll have to “explain away that year” once back on the market.  Look at your resume now – are you proud of that company list?  If the search takes longer than you’d like, have faith … you can surely find a way to make it work by getting creative:  cut back on expenses, take side projects, Task Rabbit, oDesk anyone?  If you have expensive taste in companies, that’s probably a good thing. If you’ve applied to a company you consider a “10”, well at a minimum your enthusiasm and desire will come through in the interview, which is always a win.
4.  OK, so you’re happy in your job – Don’t get complacent.
It’s easy to get complacent, but from time to time remind yourself that You Won’t Be There Forever.  Ask yourself what you’d want to show a future prospective employer.   A great updated portfolio?   Expertise in a new area?   To have attended that amazing conference?   If so, make sure you’re going after those things all along the way.  While job searching full time, I’ve picked up writing for my design blog again, and tweeting more professionally – but really it’s something I should have been doing even while working.  These things do take a time commitment which is easy to brush off when you’re in a job with a demanding schedule.  But it’s your life so make sure you’re focusing on long term career goals as much as short term.
In case you’re curious, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics says on average that workers tend to stay in the same position for about 4.4 years.  With millennials, it’s almost half that – 2.3 years per job on average.  And I don’t even want to imagine what it will be like for my 4 year old one day…a single year for each job?  If that turns out to be true, then for her sake I hope health insurance switches and 401k rollovers become way more simplified!  But this topic is starting to sound like a new blog post…
Happy hunting! Whether its now or in 4.4 years.

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