Recently I received an email from a client who is in a highly-specialized field. In that email, he shared that – despite feeling very confident about his qualifications and job search documents – he was feeling really distressed about his overall job search.
I shared some tips with him, outlined below, that I think others will likely find helpful, even readers who are not in highly-specialized fields.
Keep your expectations realistic: Stress is a common response to being in the job market. Even when it goes well, it is just not a fun process. However, that stress can be compounded by unrealistic expectations. First, When you are in an exceptionally specialized field and / or have a lot of clarity around the kind of role and work environment that will suit you (i.e., you are being picky), you are naturally limiting your options. That’s not a bad thing, but you must be prepared for a more protracted job search. Also, keep in mind that the lifecycle for organizations to source candidates and fill positions is – in most cases – quite lengthy. Don’t hit the panic button if you aren’t contacted within a couple weeks of submitting.
Consider a headhunter: Having someone working the field on your behalf can be a smart idea. She or he may have unique insights into opportunities that just aren’t going to show up on, say, Indeed. I strongly encourage you to use your existing network to find a trusted resource with specific expertise in your field. Needless to say, old fashioned networking should be a priority regardless of whether or not you work with a headhunter.
Broaden your scope: Start to think about ways in which your specialized skillset could add value to different organizations. Pick an organization that interests you and challenge yourself to think about the unique value you could offer. You may find that you’ve been narrow-scoping and what you identify might just surprise you.