Prepping for Job Search is Like Staging a Home


Submitted by: Barbara Schultz, Human Resource Executive / Career Stager / Writer / Community Career Center Board of Director and Volunteer Career Coach

It’s a seller’s market, so the timing is right and you’re ready to make a change. Family and friends always compliment you on your beautiful home; confidence soars as you anticipate a quick sale. You’ve taken inventory of the “recent” 90’s kitchen remodel and the comfy, lived in feel of your home. Are you figuring? …..hmmm, this place will sell itself. List it and they will come.  Wrong!  You’ll have to spend time with a stager/realtor who’ll help ready your home for market.   

Like many home sellers, job seekers can’t simply put a “for sale” sign up and expect to land a job.  And, those assurances from friends of your home’s value are like your partner’s undying belief in you as the perfect match for a job.  While that support is needed and appreciated, the reality is you’ll be dealing with total strangers in job search and will have to build new relationships. Using these five techniques employed by realtors and stagers will open opportunities that lead to a job offer.      

1.      DE-CLUTTER, CLEAN and ORGANIZE  

The first recommendation a stager will make is to part with furniture, objects, and general “stuff” that take up space and add nothing to your home’s appeal. Step one in job search will be to dust off your resume, clean up formatting and optimize the limited white space (2 pages maximum) you’ll have to work with.

Consider using the services of a community career center, which offers cost effective resume reviews from professional coaches. Similar to the unbiased, third party feedback a stager provides, you’ll benefit from objective advice on your resume.  If you have budget constraints, access free, customizable templates available on sites like https://www.myperfectresume.com or https://www.livecareer.com.

Organize the script you’ll be using for networking opportunities, with recruiters and ultimately, hiring managers. This script serves as an elevator speech to open doors and can then be used later in response to the classic opening interview question, “Can you tell me about yourself?”    

2.     REFRESH YOUR LOOK

Ever go to an estate sale? Imagine the overhaul needed for a house previously occupied by the 90 year old who’s made no updates since WWII. More than a coat of paint will be needed. As a job seeker, always keep your head in in the game and make sure the look from your “Throw Back Thursday” photo has evolved over time.  

In this age of social media, keeping your “look” contemporary includes updating your on-line presence. Have a LinkedIn profile with a recent, professional (and authentic) headshot and make sure your employment history is up to date.

Be current but age appropriate in presenting yourself with your choice of clothing, hairstyle, etc. Dress for success; don’t underestimate the impact of appearance.

Remember that managing your career means staying relevant at all times. A “refresh” will then require minimal effort for your next job search.   

3.     MAKE MINOR INVESTMENTS FOR MAJOR APPEAL

Realtors will discourage you from making costly improvements as a matter of Return on Investment. They, will, however, make suggestions to increase the number of potential buyers by sprucing up your property with landscaping, updated furniture, etc. for greater mass appeal.

You’ll need to consider ways to stand apart from the crowd by having your professional profile literally jump off the page. Address gaps in your skill set, enroll in a course to broaden your knowledge base, get that certification you’ve been pondering. Always be strategic and understand the experience needed (review job postings) vis a vis your background. Don’t rule out community service where you can gain learning while broadening your network at low cost/no cost. Scale your time and financial investment to your personal situation.  

4.     CREATE VISIBILITY AND INCREASE TRAFFIC

Your real estate professionals have set the stage and now they’re ready to present your home to buyers.  They’ll list your home on-line, tap into their networks and create a buzz using a variety of media outlets.   

Use that same model by optimizing the social platforms appropriate for the position you’re seeking. LinkedIn is the world market for professional networking but Facebook has the greatest number of users. Pinterest and Instagram cater to a sector focused on creative pursuits where visual and audio profiles of work are displayed. Twitter is a valuable tool to connect with industry insiders while building your personal brand. Social platforms provide free advertising and can spread the word about you faster than any other way.

If you’re in the camp that fears the internet bogeyman, please invest the time to understand how each platform works. On LinkedIn, you can maintain confidentiality if you’re currently employed by indicating in the Career Interest section of your profile “Let recruiters know you’re open.” If invasion of privacy is a concern, limit the number of ways you can be contacted: via message only, cellphone, e-mail.

Don’t forget the most important element of coming out of the shadows is to start with people you know for help in job search.  Become an even smarter networker and build on those connections.

5.     GET GOOD COMPS TO SET YOUR ASKING PRICE 

How can you put a price tag on the home you’ve loved for all those years? Actually, your realtor does just that by researching prices of comparable homes in your neighborhood.  

As a job seeker, access compensation benchmarks in on-line surveys like https://www.payscale.com or   https://www.salary.com. Keep in mind the information will have limited utility as the data is general in nature. Look for the closest match to the job you’re pursuing by searching not only the title, but also the description of the job, the industry sector and location. Geography really matters; an HR Manager’s compensation in Peoria, IL will not be at the same level as its counterpart in New York City.  

If an outside Recruiter is involved, get whatever compensation information you can. Compensation data can frame the salary negotiations to avoid under pricing or out pricing yourself. Similar to the give and take you’ll do with a prospective home buyer, be armed with what you’re willing to negotiate (vacation time, work from home, etc.) and know what your bottom line is.    

You can’t just tell them, you’ve also got to sell them.

Like a hot housing market, record low unemployment rates make for a labor market that’s on fire. But, don’t just figure that total strangers (Recruiters, Hiring Managers) are going to intuitively know why you’re the perfect person for the job. Start with these five easy steps and increase the odds of landing that job you’ve now proactively worked and planned for.  




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