When I decided to close my consulting practice and devote myself to a job search, I thought a lot about what I wanted in this next chapter of my career. After that, I focused my search on the D.C. area since that’s where I wanted to move and then used a set of tips for my resume and cover letter to make them applicable to the jobs that interested me. (The following is what worked for me, but is by no means definitive nor fully comprehensive.)
How I gained clarity on the kind of role and the kind of company
To get clarity on the job I wanted, I thought about the jobs I’ve had in the past. Which ones did I like the most and why? Which ones did I like the least and why? What was it about being an independent consultant that made me want to close down my practice and engage in the job search?
I developed very clear and detailed answers that related to the role and to the kind of company, and these were separate answers. I knew I loved working with products, tangible or virtual, rather than with services, and the invention process is very important to me. I also love relationship building and one of my favorite roles is to bring a wide variety of voices together to build something that makes the world a better place. I am also very passionate about the innovative use of technology to solve problems, content development, education, and environmental conservation.
I’ve worked in companies that range from one person to 56,000 people in the private sector, nonprofit, and government. Given my varied career, I had a lot of data and information to sift. It was worth it for me to write out what I wanted on paper in my own handwriting. And then I refined that explanation until I had it down to three sentences: one that described the kind of role (product development and management), another that described the kind of company (either a startup or a more established company that is reinventing itself), and the final one that described the industry (mission-based company that builds a better world, education and environmental sustainability being the ideal).
Why I decided to search locally
I met with a recruiter early on in my process. I knew I wanted to focus on Washington D.C. and she explained that it would be best if I could move to D.C. to job search. There’s a lot of talent in the D.C. area and companies rarely have to look outside the beltway to fill a role. Also, moving here to job search showed that I was committed to making this move and didn’t need a relocation package to do it. I was able to complete my job search in 7 weeks. It probably would have been a lot longer if I was searching long-distance. The money I spent on rent is likely less than what I would have spent on last-minute plane tickets. (And I’m very grateful that I have friends with a great apartment that was immediately available!)
Now that I have 17 years of work experience, it was time to move to a 2-page resume format. With more room, I could really detail my projects and accomplishments. Here are several formatting tips I received from a recruiter:
– Remove your street address and just go with the city, state, and zip. This is for safety reasons. You may elect to publish your resume on job search sites like Indeed.com.
– List areas of expertise at the top of the resume in a table.
– Right justify the dates of each role in the first line (the same one that has the title of the role left justified)
Cover letter tips
– Tie key parts of your experience and skills directly to the responsibilities of the job you’re applying to. I also suggest using the same key words used in the job description.
– Use your introductory paragraph to briefly and powerfully explain why the job interests you. If you can bring in a bit of personal and professional experience to this intro, all the better!
– Keep it brief and poignant. No more than one page long.
I hope these tips are helpful! Tomorrow I’ll share how I prepared for and conducted the interviews I had via Skype and Google Hangout (a new experience for me this time around!)