These days I see a surge of new startups as we fight our way out of the recession. If you are not starting one yourself, the next best thing is joining one as a partner, or as an early employee. It takes much the same preparation to make you the best entrepreneur, or the best job candidate. Of course, experience is the best teacher, but you need to get the job to get the experience.
According to Ford R. Myers, a noted career coach, and author of “Get The Job You Want, Even When No One’s Hiring,” many job seekers and career changers make the mistake of halting all their efforts during the summer, believing that nobody will be hiring until early fall. He and I believe that summer is the perfect time for starting a new career.
Here are some tips from his perspective and mine to stave off the summer “brain drain” and focus on the next step of employment or starting a whole new career as an entrepreneur:
- Create and control your Internet image. Whether it’s LinkedIn, YouTube, or Facebook, you need an online presence. No online presence may brand you as “old school,” and not startup material. Carefully monitor the “personal brand” you’re building on the Internet to keep it positive.
- Perform an internal career audit. Summer is a perfect time to take an honest look at your career — where you’ve been, where you are today, and where you’d like to go. Identify new goals based on your own definition of career success and then take action.
- Invest in career coaching. A qualified career coach can help you get totally clear on your objectives, differentiate you from the competition, market you effectively, get the offer, and negotiate the best compensation. Don’t assume it’s a luxury you can’t afford.
- Actively work the network. Summer is one of the best times of the year to make new connections and find new startups, with outdoor activities and sports. Contrary to popular belief, business networking is not all done at investor receptions and conferences.
- Follow-up with existing connections. Make new connections through your network, and always follow up with people you’ve already met. I’ve never met an executive or professional yet who didn’t enjoy being asked to share his expertise and views, and most will then remember you as someone who really cares.
- Update your career “toolkit.” Most job seekers still use only their resume as the cornerstone of their search. But there are many other items you should have in your “career tool kit” – good online profiles, accomplishment stories, positioning statement, contact list, professional references, letters of recommendation, and more.
- Tune your business fashion sense. Fashion trends in startups are more relaxed and modern than you may see in large enterprises. It may be time to update your apparel to prevent the impression that you are stuck in the past and may have a difficult time adjusting to the startup world. It also will boost your own confidence level as well.
- Volunteer or seek internships. There are many volunteer opportunities available during the summer. This is a good way to get practical job experience, help people, and to meet other professionals who may be able to recommend you.
- It is better to give than to receive. The fastest and most effective strategy for getting help is to offer help to others. Ask the people in your network who they might like an introduction to or if there is any way that you can be of assistance to them.
- Become an opportunity magnet. Always think and speak positively, and never say anything negative. This will help you to become an opportunity magnet — poised to attract, interview and “hire” your next employer.
The most important thing is to get out there and work the territory. If you adopt a defeatist attitude or wait for the job to find you, entrepreneurs will quickly see this, and you will be defeated. Startups are hard work for everyone, so enthusiasm, confidence, and a can-do attitude are essential to success. You make your own luck in this world.