Johanna Rothman's Manage Your Job Search is a comprehensive guide to everything involved in the job hunting process.
It's well-written and easy to read and I enjoyed her use of examples from her own life even though I can see that she's smarter than me so one might think that her example would not be applicable.
But that's the appeal of this book. She's a project manager who navigates her way through every challenge with a simple, structured approach and she wants to teach you to do the same thing.
If you're a confusenik that's a lot to ask but, you know, some people join a religion to learn a structured way of living so I'd say that this is getting off easy.
Here's an overview of the contents:
1. The Personal Kanban. Johanna starts off with a long section on managing your work flow. I found that surprising but smart. She's concerned that in a state of desperation or shallow optimism you're going to set too high a goal and become discouraged when you fall behind.
Studies of willpower show that your ability to commit to a task is reduced when you are under stress and job hunts are stressful so it's very important that you moderate your pace in order to maintain it. Personally, I think there's great value in reducing your task size, limiting your work flow and doing the easy stuff first.
Here's a short article about the Personal Kanban.
2. Knowing What You Like. Everyone stresses the importance of finding a company that is a good cultural fit but they are usually vague about what that actually means.
Johanna isn't vague. She uses an analytic tool called The Career Line to help you figure out what you liked and didn't like in the past and this information gives you questions to ask an interviewer to see if the company meets your needs.
3. Know What You Have To Offer. Moving on to self-presentation, Johanna insists that you have to know your value and she isn't talking about an exercise in ego enhancement. She means that you have to be prepared to explain every item on your resume and she's absolutely right.
I'm a recruiter and if I ask you a question about something you've listed on your resume, you'd better have a clear answer so Johanna tells you how to analyze your work to draw out all of the relevant elements for presentation.
Being able to tell a story about every project you worked on gives you something substantial to say in the interview. You don't want to overtalk but you don't want the interviewer to have to drag the story out of you either. This advice might seem obvious but people have a lot of trouble telling you what they do on a daily basis because they haven't thought it through.
4. Networking. That's what Johanna calls real hands-on job hunting. She provides thorough instructions for working with social media but warns that sooner or later you will have to pick up the phone. I think it's important, therefore, to know how to sound good on voicemail so let me tell you my ideas about that.
No one feels like talking to a mumbler or dead fish so, if you're not used to introducing yourself, it helps to write a little script and practice saying it into your own voicemail 20 or 30 times. You record a 15-second message, listen to it, delete it, and do it again and again and again. Once the basics of your message become automatic, your presentation will sound more natural and you will be free to adlib whenever you want.
Of course, I keep hearing that voice mail is out of style but how else can you have a real conversation with someone who isn't there?
5. Common Errors. Johanna ends the basic job search guide with a long section on the mistakes job hunters make. For instance, if a recruiter calls you out of the blue with a good job, you might feel torn by a commitment to your current company that your employer doesn't feel towards you. That's a serious issue that anyone who wants a progressive career is going to encounter.
The final chapter handles special circumstances for people who are very junior, very senior or who want to make a major change in their careers. She doesn't advise middle-aged people to dye their hair or hide the dates on their resumes but offers more practical tips to deal with ageism.
All in all, the book is a good, up-to-date guide that I would recommend. Johanna is a smart person, she's been around a long time and the book is a good opportunity to hang out with her.