Career Advice: "Hang a Shingle" and give every conversation two chances...

No surprise here but in the past few weeks I've had conversations with way too many friends and acquaintances who have lost jobs.  In each case they have expressed an interest in getting my feedback or help in a resume and job search.  And in each case I have suggested they approach things a bit differently...

Don't Shop A Resume

For starters, in this kind of economy you need to do more than network and pass around a resume.  A resume says simply "I'm looking for a Full Time Job with Benefits".  And those opportunities are disappearing faster each day.    

But if you network and shop around a list of well-defined, highly needed projects that you are experienced with and are available to do "for hire" all of sudden there is interest.  Part of it has to do with the fact that employers can't afford to hire full time employees but they STILL HAVE WORK THAT NEEDS TO BE DONE!  And getting in with project work increases you chances of being hired full time.  

Hang A Shingle Instead...

So I advise my friends to immediately "hang a shingle" and go into business for themselves as a freelancer - even if its not the ideal long term decision.  At least every person they call on they can have two conversations with: 1.) Her is my resume for a look at what I've done  - I'm interested in a full time position, but also 2.) Here are 3 or 4 projects I know how to do, and you know you need, and I can do them starting today at an hourly rate and you don't have to pay any benefits.   

There are other benefits to this approach as well:   They can make some $ along the way while they are still job searching.   They just may find out that the company isn't really one they'd want to work full time for anyway in which case they saved themselves from a big career mistake.  or, they may find like I did that they can do better on their own as a freelancer than working full time for some empty suit.

How To Do It

The next question they ask is "How do I hang that shingle?"  And that's where my skills come in.  I love to look over a resume and extract the 3 or 4 things that people know how to do and re-package it as a simple powerpoint presentation that outlines the well-defined projects they can do immediately.  

For instance, lets say you've been in sales management for 20 years.  You probably are a whiz at setting up and using Salesforce or another CRM package.  You probably know how to structure a sales compensation package that is both profitable to the company yet motivating to the sales person.  And you probably know how to set up and manage a sales funnel and good reporting using that CRM.

You would not believe how many companies DON'T know how to do those things!  But in this market a lot of them will need that right now as they re-evaluate how they pay everyone and look for ways to make sales more efficient.  And all three are simple projects you could structure on a simple hourly rate or flat rate basis.

So of course, update the resume, but before you start sending it out, hang that shingle.  A little creativity, repackaging and smart communications can turn a boring traditional job search into a revenue generating, networking exercise.



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