Have recent events left you unemployed?  I can empathize.  I have been there.  In my life, I’ve had three major periods of unemployment. I understand the uncertainty, anxiety, and self-doubt that comes with that.  You just don’t feel like life is as worthwhile unless you have a solid, fulfilling job.

Because of my experience, I have made it a point to be available to friends and colleagues who are unemployed.  I’ve met with dozens.  Here’s some of what I have learned about finding your next professional job.

1. Fight to Maintain the Right Attitude

Discouragement and depression will lurk in the margins surrounding you, ready to seep into your psyche at every opportunity.  If you give into them, you’ll dissipate positive energy, turn inward, and miss connections and opportunities.  You’ll need to fight to maintain a positive outlook.

Choose to see this as an opportunity to make a major step forward in landing a job that will be challenging and fulfilling while making use of your unique set of strengths and experience.   Your first battle will be with yourself.

One proven practice is to seek out positive quotes and expressions, to capture them, and to review them daily.  At one particularly depressing point in my career, I recognized that I needed to work to maintain a positive attitude, and so I collected a couple of dozen positive sayings.  I wrote them on index cards and carried them with me everywhere.  Several times a day, I would flip through them, reading them to myself.

Do something like that, and you’ll gradually replace negative thoughts with positive, and that will help you maintain an optimistic outlook.

2. Focus

Start by making a list of the industries in which you’d like to work, and the specific companies within those industries that would be attractive to you.  Spend some time detailing your dream job. While you may never find an exact match, by spending time detailing your ideal arrangement, you’ll have something by which to judge any offers.

In every one of my periods of unemployment, the job that I landed on the other side was always a major step up from the one I had prior to being unemployed.  In countless conversations with other salespeople, I’ve found this to be a common experience.

So, start out with an expectant attitude and be grateful for the gift of time to allow you to find that better position.

Then, begin your search.  How do you find a new job?  I could think of no one more qualified to pass on some practical and personal advice than a good friend of mine, Michael Linder.  Michael is intelligent, educated, poised, and polished – a professional salesperson’s professional.  Yet, through a weird combination of circumstances, Michael has found himself unemployed over a dozen times.  In other words, he’s gotten 13 jobs!

I asked Michael to pass on some practical pointers.  Here’s the gist.

3. Make Finding a Job Your Work

The experts say it takes an average of one month of unemployment for every ten thousand dollars of income in the previous job.  So, if you made $60,000, it would likely take you six months to find your next position.  If you made $100,000, ten months is more likely.

To compress that cycle, commit to spending eight to ten hours a day looking for your next job.

And what do you do in those eight to ten hours?  Network, network, network. Yes, you should register with a couple of headhunters and regularly review job postings, but most of your time should be networking.

Start with a list of everyone you know, regardless of whether you think they can help. Prioritize the list based on who you think might be able to help most and start there.  This is just your starting point.  Add to your list as frequently as you can.

When you meet or network with someone, show them your list of target companies. That helps people think.  If you don’t, you are more likely to hear “I don’t know anyone.”

For every meeting, ask if there are three people with whom they might suggest you meet.  Ask if you can drop their name when contacting the referral.

Then, reach out to those people, and repeat the process.

After every meeting, follow up with everyone you meet by sending them something you think they may value, such as:

  • Good: An article you read that might help them in some way.
  • Better: A process, system, SOP that you used or implemented that they might find valuable in their business.
  • Best: An article, process, system, SOP that you authored/developed on a topic they might find valuable in their business.

On the other side of this process, from the prospective employer’s point of view, I have often been involved in coaching sales managers and helping my clients hire new salespeople.  In our Kahle Way® Sales Management System, I advise the sales managers to use networking to find their next salesperson. I tell them they are just one contact away from their new salesperson. “You probably already know your next salesperson, or you know the person who knows them. “

They are networking, looking for you, just as you are looking for them.

4. Use LinkedIn

LinkedIn can be a powerful tool to help with your job search.

Begin by connecting with as many people as you can. Try to find people in your targeted industries and companies.  You are looking for someone who can introduce you to the right people within those targeted organizations.

Reach out to people on LinkedIn in the same way that you would if he/she were a local contact.  Present your list of targeted companies, see if they know anyone within those organizations, and ask for three additional contacts.

When you see a job – from any source — that looks interesting, first check LinkedIn to see if you know anyone with that company and/or someone who can network you inside it. If not, send your resume, but don’t expect to hear from anyone on the basis of an unsolicited resume.

5. Use Headhunters

Professional recruiters can connect you with jobs that you will not see otherwise. Search Google and make a list of headhunters who specialize in the industries you’ve identified.  Once you register with them, reach out to them at least once a month to stay on the top of their mind.

6. Be Creative

If you are reaching out directly to a company without the benefit of knowing anyone at that company — get creative. Michael connected with several presidents by sending a three-part sports-themed poem; each part arriving on three different days; each part accompanied by a sports ball representative of the sport and the business skill set he possessed. The business skill sets were linked to the skills required to succeed in the respective sports. One turned into a job — but even that was set up by networking first.

Here are Our Results:

Of the six sales jobs that I have had,

  • one came from a job board (newspaper ad)
  • two came from headhunters
  • two came from networking,
  • one was a combination of networking and headhunter.

Of Michael’s 13 jobs,

  • one came from a headhunter
  • two came from job boards
  • the balance (10 of them) through networking

Hope this helps!