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Back on the Market: Tips for Experienced Job Seekers

job search

Whether you’re currently employed and dipping your toe in the job pool, looking for a change of scenery at work and at home or were recently laid off from a long-held position, a job search can be a challenge for anyone who has been steadily employed for the better part of a decade or longer. It can be especially daunting if you haven’t yet established a digital presence and brand.

To this we say: breathe. Here at Onward Search, we recognize that many are dealing with similar obstacles, so we put together some actionable tips for your job search:

Rework Your Resume

Give your resume the love and attention it deserves. Don’t rush it, because this is the first impression employers will have of you when applying to new positions.

Go in with a strategy to market yourself. Ask yourself: How do you want to be perceived by potential employers, and which positions would you like to be considered for? This may mean “re-titling” yourself to catch a potential employer’s attention. For example, you may want to call yourself a “Production Manager” rather than a “Director of Production,” simply because there are more manager-level roles available. Most workplaces only have one Director, so those opportunities can be few and far between.

As you detail your previous experience in your resume, keep it clean, simple and try not to exceed two pages. No need for a photo on your resume–keep that for LinkedIn–and remove any experience from before 2000, because technology has made pre-2000 experience irrelevant. Creative and marketing jobs are not the same as they were in the 90s, therefore there really isn’t any reason to detail that experience.

Similarly, be sure to include up-to-date software skills and any new certifications you’ve acquired—such as a PMP or an MBA.

Build an Online Presence

Create a LinkedIn profile if you haven’t yet already, as this will be a powerful tool to let recruiters and former colleagues know you’re looking for work. It helps bring opportunities to your inbox, and supplements your proactive efforts.

Flesh out your LinkedIn profile with recent experience and a professional photo, then connect with your business contacts to expand your network. As a tip, searching for LinkedIn profiles of professionals with similar backgrounds can help you find different ways of improving your profile through imitation (this, of course, does not mean plagiarism!).

If you work in a creative field, you must put together a portfolio of recent work. We highly recommend using a site like Behance, Carbonmade, Cargo Collective, Coroflot, Krop or Squarespace to showcase your work online. A PDF will also work, but without attachment to an online network like Behance, it won’t bring you the inbound employment opportunities that these online portfolio sites provide. When updating your portfolio, be sure to drop anything too dated (the last 3 years of work would be most relevant), redundant or any pieces that doesn’t serve a purpose. That ad for Crystal Pepsi? It’s got to go.

Keep an open mind

Don’t close doors before they’re even opened! Explore a wide variety of options, including those outside of your current industry or comfort zone. For example, if you’ve worked in ad agencies for most of your career, now could be a good time to look at corporate and brand-side opportunities. Remember, it’s just an interview – you’re not accepting the offer by simply exploring a job opportunity. Check it out and trust your gut. You may be surprised.

Furthermore, stay open to freelance and contract opportunities as well, which can provide income, build new skills and add diversity to your resume (which is especially helpful if you’ve spent a decade embedded in the processes and workflows of one company). Temporary roles can be very helpful in transitioning a creative or marketing pro into a new role.

It can also lead to something more long-term. At Onward Search, we’re seeing more and more temp jobs turn into permanent positions. Look at freelance work as a chance to prove yourself and earn a full-time seat.

Practice Your Interview Skills

If you haven’t interviewed in years, meeting with potential employers can be nerve-wracking. In our experience, the number one mistake made by those who have been out of the job market for a while, is simply talking too much; About yourself, about your last company, about your previous experience, about your pet… know when enough is enough and let others get a word in.

Mirror your interviewer, listen and answer thoughtfully with an emphasis on how you can help them accomplish their goals. Focus on the needs of the company you’re interviewing with, not your former employer’s needs – each company has its own unique business challenges, and it’s up to you to show how your skills adapt. It’s important not to come off as having blinders on.

And one more thing: Remember to check your ego at the door. You’re likely very accomplished at this stage in your career, but what got you to this point in your career may not be what gets you to the next level. Be receptive to new ideas and new ways of doing things when discussing a role with your potential new team.

Stay Positive

If the search is taking a little longer than you hoped, don’t get discouraged. Remember your experience is valuable, and your gap-less resume speaks volumes of your skill set, loyalty and dependability. Stay positive and be creative as you go about your job search.

And, most importantly, don’t be afraid to ask for help. Working with a trusted recruiter who is specialized within your field can widen your network and the amount of job opportunities available to you. Recruiters can help make your job search easier and infinitely less stressful (we do the grunt work for you!).
To learn more about how Onward Search can help you find your next career opportunity, or to speak with an industry-specific recruiter, contact us today.

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