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Advice / Job Search / Finding a Job

Landing Your Next Big Gig: A Q&A With TheLadders' Amanda Augustine

So, you’ve decided it’s time to take your job to the next level. Maybe you want a management position, or you’re trying to reach director-level in your field. Or maybe you’ve gained some new skills or earned a graduate degree and have a whole new range of options open to you.

That’s where Amanda Augustine comes in. As a career coach and job search expert for TheLadders, she specializes in helping professionals take the next step in their careers.

We caught up with Amanda this week to chat about landing that next big thing—including gaining management experience, working with recruiters, and being strategic about your career goals. If you’re trying to reach the next rung on your career ladder, read on for her smart advice.

In general, what should job seekers be thinking about when they're applying for a mid- to senior-level job?

When you’re no longer in your first few jobs, it’s really time to consider your longer-term career path. Ideally, each job you take on at this point should be a stepping stone, helping you gain the right skills and experience to qualify you for your dream position.

But I see many professionals who jump into the job search before they have really clarified their job goals and developed a strategy. You can’t craft the right resume, build an online presence, or develop your elevator pitch when you are unclear on your job goals!

So, before anything, you want to work on really honing in on what you want in the long-term. Then, review job descriptions that fit these goals and identify the types of skills and experience you need to gain. This will help you clarify exactly what to look for in your next position.

What are some other mistakes you see job seekers making?

Job seekers often rely on whichever job-search methods fall within their comfort zone. For instance, the social butterflies gravitate toward networking opportunities, while introverted professionals stick to online applications.

But the best way to find the greatest number of relevant job leads—both hidden and published—is to incorporate multiple methods into your search: applying to online job listings, networking with your social and professional contacts, and engaging with recruiters. Remember that these strategies can and will work in tandem. For example, if you apply to a job online and can list an employee referral, you’re 10 times more likely to land an interview.

You mention working with recruiters—can you share more about that? Any tips for success when working with headhunters?

Yes! Recruiters can be a valuable source of job leads and company insight. However, remember that, in the world of recruiting, the job seeker is not the customer. A recruiter is either paid by his or her employer or by a corporate client with a hiring need, and as a result, the employer is the client in this situation.

That said, here are three tips to capitalize on recruiters during your search:

  • Target the right recruiters and agencies—those that recruit for the jobs that interest you and for which you are qualified. I recommend reaching out to individual recruiters via email or LinkedIn, rather than simply uploading your resume to a company’s site. There’s more incentive for a recruiter to directly screen you when you’re not already in his or her database.
  • Expect silence. Unfortunately, recruiters don’t typically respond if you are not a fit for any of their immediate sourcing needs. Don’t take it personally! This is a numbers game, so make it a goal to reach out to three to five new recruiters each week, and follow up with each one every couple weeks. You never know when someone will have the right opportunity for you and will respond.
  • If a recruiter approaches you about a role that isn’t a good fit, it’s OK to recommend friends or colleagues for the opportunity. It’s a great way to establish rapport, and it can help clarify your job goals and let the recruiter know which opportunities should be sent your way.
  • We often get asked by our readers how they can gain managerial experience to be qualified for that first management position. Any advice? 

    There are definitely ways to build management experience, both in and out of the office, before you land that first management position. Now’s actually a great time to do it, as many companies are getting ready to hire their summer interns. If your department is hiring, volunteer to take the internship program (or even an intern or two) under your wing. You can also approach a junior colleague and offer to be his or her mentor.

    Moreover, see if there are opportunities to take an active role in your organization’s philanthropic endeavors. For example, you could organize a run for a local Race for the Cure and manage the team of volunteers—that’s a great way to build your leadership and management skills.

    Outside of the office, you can volunteer for a cause you truly care about and offer to lead a committee or project. For instance, StreetWise Partners appoints some of its volunteer mentors for officer positions to spearhead groups of mentors and trainees.

    Any parting words of advice for job seekers?

    The job search—especially at this level—can be a long and bumpy process. Set weekly goals to stay motivated and keep yourself on track.

    For more career advice and job tips, follow Amanda @JobSearchAmanda on Twitter, “Like” her on Facebook or check out her weekly column on The Career Chronicles.