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Negotiating from a Place of Strength: Looking for a Job when You Don't Need It

#businesstips #careeradvancement #confidence #highperformance #mentoring #newleaders Apr 25, 2023

When I began my career, I was of the opinion that it was always best to work your way up from within an organization. In my mind, it not only demonstrated my growth, it also showed that I had been a valued and liked team member. I was proud to state on my resume that I had accumulated a decade of tenure at each of my first professional employers.

Times have changed.

The most ambitious young professionals in this generation are finding that they actually have to leave their current workplace to get that next opportunity a wrung up the ladder.

There is an old saying that goes, "The best time to look for a job is when you don't need a job." In the past, we often waited til we had to relocate, or when we were really frustrated with our job and couldn’t take it anymore. Today, I urge you to keep your eye open for great opportunities and apply—even if you don’t meet every ‘requirement’ and, especially, if you already have a great job.

Get out there and keep your pulse on the market in your sector.

A study conducted by the University of Chicago found that people who were employed were more likely to get job offers than those who were unemployed. This may seem counterintuitive, but it highlights the importance of being proactive and staying employed, even if it's not your dream job.

Being employed gives you more bargaining power. 

I’ll never forget the time I had killed a job interview and was offered the job. Since I really loved the job I had, I could safely say no to the salary offers that came in. The headhunter kept raising the offer, again…and again. Eventually, it became an offer too good to turn down (well over double the original salary offer). I’m not saying this will always happen, but it certainly allowed me to negotiate freely because I had nothing to lose.   

According to a study conducted by LinkedIn, 85% of all jobs are filled through networking. The average job search takes about 52 days. When you are not in a desperate situation, you have the time and space to research and network. Stay in communication with an industry headhunter. Update that person by inviting them to an annual coffee and sharing your most recent accomplishments and goals. By being proactive and staying ahead of the game, you can increase your chances of finding the next right job for you.

Here are five pieces of advice that were shared with me about the job search process that have stayed front of mind:   

  1. Continuously evaluate your current job and career goals. Identify what you like about your current job and what you would like to change. Explore different career paths and identify what you enjoy doing and where your strengths lie. You might want to sign up for a few professional coaching sessions to help you gain this valuable insight. Knowing your career goals and strengths will help you identify the right job opportunities when they arise.
  2. Proactively network and research as opposed to reactively doing it. According to a study by the Bureau of Labor Statistics, 70% of all jobs are never advertised. This means that networking and building relationships is essential to finding the right job for you. Connect with people in your industry and attend networking events to build relationships and gain insights into different job opportunities. Research companies and industries to find out where they post or fill openings from. You may need to join a professional organization or attend a specific course they recruit from.
  3. Always sharpen your skills. Keep training and upskilling! If the jobs you want often cite ‘Masters’ preferred,’ join a GRE prep course and find some part-time or online programs which cater to working professionals. At the very least, add to your certifications by attending meaty trainings offered by seasoned and vetted instructors. Make sure you are ready when the right opportunity presents itself.
  4. Utilize technology as your personal branding team. According to a study by Jobvite, 74% of all job seekers use social media to find job opportunities. Beef up your social media platforms (LinkedIn, Twitter, and Facebook) to build your personal brand and connect with potential employers. Keep your resume and cover letter up-to-date, so it will be easier to tailor them to job opportunities as they come up.

Bonus point…There is nothing wrong with a dress rehearsal interview. If you haven’t been in the game for a while, take the time to get out there and hone your style. Applying regularly to jobs keeps your skills sharp. You will be less nervous and more focused on what you want to present. You’ll have honed your opening statement that really establishes what you have to offer, and you’ll more quickly be able to speak with confidence when the committee inevitably asks you, “Do you have any questions for us”? If you bomb a question in a ‘rehearsal’ job interview – the consequences aren’t so dire. Use these rehearsals as a time to gather feedback and improve your answer for the interviews that really matter. 

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