AMY LINDGREN: Last-Minute Job Search
Are you a last-minute holiday shopper? It’s been a weakness of mine for ages. There have been years when I wrapped gifts in the car as my husband drove north to the in-laws. Of course, I routinely miss the recommended date for mailing packages; for that matter, I have sent holiday cards in March and one year in July, just because I didn’t want to waste my pre-stamped envelopes.
My collision with the immutable force we call Christmas has taken so many forms, it’s probably diagnosable. I live in some kind of personal time warp, where I firmly believe there will be enough hours in the week before Christmas to do all the things everyone else did the day after Thanksgiving.
Can you stand more stories? Once I actually slept through the family gathering because I was up so late the night before sewing a teddy bear for my nephew. Oops. More recently, my husband made the mistake of putting me in charge of Christmas Eve dinner. I had no idea the stores closed so early…by the time I went out to grocery shop, all I could find were two cheese pizzas from the 24-hour Walgreens. To make things worse, we were hosting a young Japanese woman and I had to persuade her that frozen pizza was a holiday tradition.
If I haven’t convinced you by now, let’s just say that I know from last-minute when it comes to the holidays. Since I have expertise in that area, and more expertise related to job search, I thought I might put the two together. If you ever find yourself in a hurry to find work, here are some tips to help you out.
1. Don’t be choosy. That’s not a cheery note to start on, but you can interpret it broadly. If you’ve been limiting yourself to a certain type of company, or a certain level, or even a certain salary, dropping some of your criteria will expand the pool of options.
2. Do be targeted. This isn’t conflicting advice – even if you remove some criteria, you still need to direct your attention to a specific type of work, or you’ll lose time by being too scattershot. If you create a list of 15-20 companies, you can streamline your process by initiating direct contact, and by asking your network for more specific assistance.
3. Limit your online applications. You’ve probably noticed that getting hired through job postings can be a very slow process. You may find ways to shorten your application process, but that doesn’t mean employers will be quick on the other end.
4. Stop revising your resume. If you’re responding to a lot of ads, you can’t help but change your resume to reflect each posting. Contacting a targeted list of employers allows you to use the same resume each time.
5. Pick up the phone. Sure, it’s easier to send a group email, or to contact everyone in your LinkedIn circle. So, go ahead and do those things too. But don’t underestimate the efficiency of a real-time conversation. If you call your contacts to tell them you’re available or that you would like help connecting to people in your goal companies, you’ll be able to strategize the next steps on the spot, instead of waiting for email answers.
6. Drop in on potential employers. If your target list includes companies with a storefront or smaller companies where you could step inside the door with your resume and cover letter, give that some thought. Yes, it’s a bit pushy, but didn’t you say you were in a hurry? Employers need to see you to hire you, so this is a way to achieve that objective.
7. Offer to work part-time. Employers can more easily make room for part-timers or contract workers at the last minute than they can for full-time employees. The reasons vary from budgets to workload management to a comfort level in trying someone out with less of an investment.
8. Sign on with a temp firm. Actually, sign on with two or three such firms. Once you’re in their registries, expect to be talking with your representative at least once a week about potential assignments. If that’s not happening, you should be calling them, or adding more agencies to your list.
Will these tips help you land the job of your dreams? That’s hard to say, since the first step in the process is to lower some of your standards. But if landing a job fast is the goal, then yes, you should be able to expedite things significantly. That may even leave you some extra time for holiday shopping.
Amy Lindgren owns Prototype Career Service, a career consulting firm in St. Paul. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or at 626 Armstrong Avenue, St. Paul, MN 55102.