This article was originally published on SimplyHired by Joshua Waldman.
Looking for work feels totally overwhelming for many people. In fact, the way I felt during my first job search after getting laid-off in 2009 is very much how I feel every day as an entrepreneur.
I had a professor who said, “There are two kinds of people, those who thrive in the uncertainty of entrepreneurship, and those who don’t.” He didn’t mean it in a judgmental way. His point was that everyone reacts differently to uncertainty.
And what can me more uncertain than not knowing where your income is coming from next week!
The irony is that if an entrepreneur got laid-off, they start a company. The rest of us, well, we tear our hair out with stress. And so the job search negatively affects many people who value the idea of a steady, predictable income.
There are lessons that an entrepreneur can share to make this process much more manageable. I’ve found, in my own business, that having a strategy releases me from about 80% of my stress about the future and helps me make decisions about how I should best spend my time now.
You see, feeling overwhelmed is just matter of not having clear next steps. And when those steps lead you through a proven path to your goal, you grow in certainty.
Here’s a strategic framework I’ve always relied on when looking for work, (and I use it when marketing my own business as well).
Using tools freely available to you, like LinkedIn, ZoomInfo, Graph Search or Twellow, you can identify people in the companies you want to work for. Look for people who can provide you with information, and those who might actually be making decisions about employment later on.
This step might take you an hour or two.
In my free online course, The Missing Manual for LinkedIn Success, I introduce learners to the concept of empathy mapping on day 2. Here, you ask yourself what these target people hear in their world, what they see everyday, how they feel about this, and what their pain is. By stepping into their shoes, you’ll be better prepared to start real conversations with them later.
Take an hour or two to research the answers to these questions using those same online tools from step one. For example, you can find industry related news on LinkedIn Groups, read a company’s tweets on Twitter, or see what fans say on their Facebook Page.
Many people feel overwhelmed in their job search simply because they feel uncomfortable making new connections.
Hey, I’m the same way. Without a strategy to follow, I’d probably never leave the house! But I know my goals, and I know what I must do to get there. And it is essential for any job seeker to conduct informational interviews.
The good news is that after your empathy research, you will probably feel more confident when reaching out. Using social media tools, set yourself a goal to initiate three new contacts per day (tip: add them to your LinkedIn network after the conversation).
This will take you an hour, tops.
Now that you have a network of contacts in the company you want to work for, it’s time to up the stakes and talk to a decision maker. Now, the company may or may not have a job opening. That doesn’t matter.
If, by now, you’re not an expert on this company and how you can add value, repeat the other steps. Here, you just want to find out if you might be a fit for them. I offer you some templates to use when reaching out to hiring managers here.
So the approach is to contact the decision maker, probably over LinkedIn, and ask them for a few minutes of their time. At the very least, they’ll get to know someone whom they can add to their database of possible candidates. At the best, they might find there’s a great fit for a current opening. Either way, there’s no harm in asking for a conversation.
These four steps take an hour or two a day to follow. That leaves you plenty of time to attend live networking events, or, scour job sites.
Like it or not, as a job seeker, you’re experience is very much like that of an entrepreneur. So learn from them, and have a strategy, a path and a goal. You’ll never feel overwhelmed again!