Job hunting is not easy. It takes a lot of work and can be extremely frustrating. In most cases it is something that you have to work at. Despite the stories you’ve heard, jobs are probably not coming to find you. In any case, you are probably doing yourself a disservice if you don’t do some amount of research on what’s out there before deciding on your new job.
About a year ago I decided it was time. It was overdue really. I wanted to move on in my career and it was not happening for me. Just like waiting around for that new job to find you, waiting around to get promoted or advance in another way is foolish. These opportunities rarely find you, you have to seek them out.
The problem was I hadn’t looked for a job in a long time and every time I went online to look at job sites I would get lost down a rabbit hole and nothing truly productive would come of it. It was then that I realized that my show was not ready for the road. My resume was not up to par, my research on the market was non-existent and all I had was a desire for a new, different job.
And now that the ink has dried I feel like I can share how I used Agile principles to help me find an Agile job.
The first thing I did was cure the rabbit hole issue by committing myself to spending 2 hours every Sunday on my job search. This gave me both a cadence and a time box along with a commitment. Instead of just thinking about looking for a new job, I was going to actually do something about it. And I was going to try not to let it overwhelm me. I still had a full time job and a full time family. This was a major step for me and it really got the ball rolling and I noticed the difference in my willingness to say out loud to my friends and family that I was actively looking for a new job.
The next thing to do was to create my own backlog. What did I need to do to get myself ready to apply to jobs? My priority list looked like this:
- Research jobs that are out there that I think I want
- Narrow down the titles I am interested in to a manageable few
- Narrow down any other keywords
- Update my resume
- Choose job sites and set up my profile and searches on those sites
- Start submitting applications
- See what happens
- Keep trying
The research was fun and interesting and I was happy to see that there were some really interesting opportunities out there so the first few steps were pretty easy and quick. Unsurprisingly resume writing was difficult and time consuming. After several weeks I had a draft that I thought was pretty good, or at least good enough to get started. I actually used the particularly appealing job descriptions to help me craft my resume.
I started applying and at first I was getting some responses and even though they weren’t quite what I wanted I was hopeful, but the responses dried up quickly and so did my enthusiasm for phone screens/interviews for the wrong job. (At first it was really good practice though.) I was frustrated at my lack of progress. Around that time I came across one of those inspirational magnets in my local bookstore. It said:
This is derived from the Theodore Roosevelt quote:
“Nothing in the world is worth having or worth doing unless it means effort, pain, difficulty… I have never in my life envied a human being who led an easy life. I have envied a great many people who led difficult lives and led them well.”
I bought that magnet and put it on my wall near my desk to serve as a reminder that this process was going to be worth it no matter how drawn out, painful and/or frustrating. I turned to it many times when I wanted to give up and thought of it as my goal – to get a job worth having.
I decided I had to inspect and adapt my approach since it wasn’t yielding the right results. I turned to some professional help for my resume and got some excellent advice on content and formatting as well as a decent cover letter template. I’m still not sure a cover letter ever gets read, but you usually still need one so I wanted mine to be good. This took some more time away from looking at actual job postings, but it was really worthwhile.
New resume in hand I applied for more jobs and I started getting somewhere, but still not quite where I wanted to be so I thought more about what I could do to improve my “product.” I started spending some of my time each week on my LinkedIn profile, on my profile on the job sites, and on tweaks to my resume. I added in a few more job sites, but this got really overwhelming so I trimmed it back. I also spent more time looking for companies I wanted to work for rather than just the job postings that showed up in my searches.
Eventually I had something employers were interested in. The real interview process began. There were some false starts and some failed interviews, but each time got better and closer to what I wanted.
There is a point when you are interviewing when you just have to wait and see what someone else will decide about you. At that point I realized the best way through it was to keep looking and keep applying. You never know what is around the next corner and keeping up with it helped me to feel like I still had some control. Additionally continued response to my resume was a helpful reminder that I was wanted.
In the end I had 2 offers — both for jobs I wanted. After all the phone screens, interviews, leadership tests, etc. making that decision was the most stressful time of all, but I do believe that my process led me to a good place and although I could only accept one job, I don’t think I could have gone wrong either way.
This is a long post, but I will just summarize by saying that cadence, limiting work in progress (WIP), and continuous inspect and adapt cycles were key for me in my job search. Job hunting is NOT EASY. It takes courage and perseverance. Even so, I say, go for it.