Executive search firm Korn/Ferry International recently published on its Website a thoughtful, thorough primer on how to conduct a job search. In 18 quick-reading pages, Korn/Ferry’s Career Playbook outlines all of the core elements of a job search, from defining what you want, identifying your most valuable strengths and marketing yourself, to writing your resume and cover letters, working with executive recruiters, interviewing for jobs and negotiating job offers. The Playbook is full of practical job search tips from Korn/Ferry consultants. Here are a few highlights:
On identifying your core strengths…
Since it can be hard to zero in on the attributes that define and differentiate you as a professional, Korn/Ferry recommends using LinkedIn’s “Recommendations” feature to see how your colleagues have described you. Peer recommendations might help you articulate your strengths or even discover qualities you didn’t realize others valued in you. If certain descriptions recur in those references (such as reliable, creative or able to make tough decisions), use those in your personal branding statement.
On looking for a new job while you’re still employed…
* Use only your personal cell phone or home phone to communicate with recruiters and prospective employers, and do it outside the office.
* Don’t use your work e-mail or equipment to print, copy or send your resume or any other sensitive, job search related materials.
* Impress the confidentiality of your job search on your family, friends and network contacts so that they don’t inadvertently reveal too much information about your search.
On contacting executive recruiters…
The best way to get noticed by an executive recruiter, writes The Korn, is to have someone they trust—such as a client or industry contact—introduce you. In the absence of such an introduction, target one recruiter who specializes in placing people in your industry, function or geography, rather than contacting multiple recruiters at the same firm.
On addressing negative references…
Should a recruiter speak with someone who doesn’t give you a good reference, know that the recruiter will take the comments with a grain of salt. When faced with negative information, the recruiter will consider how objective the information was, the number of people who mentioned it, how certain they were about the information and whether there is any way to confirm it. Korn/Ferry recommends proactively anticipating and discussing any negative perceptions about you that might exist—and demonstrating lessons learned from any unfavorable work experiences—to keep negative references in context.
On negotiating a job offer…
Korn/Ferry notes that the most common mistake employers and candidates make during the offer/negotiation phase is to move too slowly. “When either side goes quiet, even unintentionally, it sends the wrong signal,” writes The Korn. To avoid lapses in communication and lags in the offer process, Korn/Ferry recommends that employers and candidates outline the decision-making process and the timeframes associated with it up front.
CIO.com has its own compendium of job search advice in its IT Job Search Bible, which lists all job-search related stories CIO.com has published.