When looking for a job, the obstacles to seeking new employment can feel insurmountable, especially as technology transforms the skills necessary for the job search. From navigating the vast world of virtual job postings to crafting an online professional profile, the techniques needed by jobseekers multiply each year.
Bill Amirault, vice president of Career Advancement Systems, a New Jersey and Florida-based career coaching service, has spent the last six years helping clients develop job-search strategies in a rapidly evolving job market. Amirault will speak both to developing technical job-searching skills and reorienting a personal approach to job seeking in a lecture on “Inspiration and Motivation for Your Successful Job Search” at the Princeton Public Library on Friday, January 18, from 9:45 a.m. to noon. The event is hosted by the Professional Service Group of Mercer County.
Amirault encourages clients to begin the job search from a place of confidence instead of fear. To create this attitude, Amirault inspires his audience to reflect on their own lives and consider that they already, as Amirault puts it, “have a whole lot more than 90 percent of the world.” Amirault provides anecdotes of individuals who have persevered through severe disadvantages and overcome. “If they can do it so can you—this too shall pass. Do the things you need to do and you’ll end up in the right place,” he says.
Amirault says this change in perspective often has meaningful practical applications—approaching job opportunities from a place of calm self-confidence can be instrumental during the interviewing phase. “You have to realize that many of the employers need you more than you need them,” Amirault says. “You need to walk in there with the mentality that you are Santa Claus and you can give them the goodies, rather than coming in with your hands in a prayer pose. A whole different dynamic comes out of that.”
Amirault outlines the most successful job-hunting strategies, encouraging his clients to network efficiently and effectively. Amirault says he often sees clients making the mistake of wasting time trying to apply to jobs online without making a human connection. “It’s about getting your credentials in front of the right people, not an online tracking service,” Amirault says.
Part of a successful strategy also involves understanding the job market and employment trends. With the rise of productivity technology, some forms of work are no longer in demand, and jobseekers must adapt. “People are going to have to set themselves up so that their skills, ability, and knowledge can still be in demand when technology automates a lot of tasks,” Amirault says.
Additionally, as companies increasingly divest themselves of activities that can be outsourced, some seeking employment might find themselves working part-time, or on a freelance basis, instead of placed in a full-time job with benefits.
Amirault encourages his clients to remain open to alternative careers and new opportunities, considering how their unique skill sets might adapt to new professional settings. Amirault promotes “the willingness to explore different careers at different times.”
Amirault himself has experience in a range of careers. After graduating from Indiana University, Amirault spent two years in the business placement office helping undergraduates find their first job or internship. He then moved into marketing and product management, working for such companies as General Electric, Procter & Gamble, and Johnson & Johnson.
After leaving the corporate world, he experienced an extended period of unemployment. Trying to figure out his next direction, a friend suggested Amirault join him in speaking at career showcases, helping guide and inspire others seeking work. Amirault found his vocation in giving these speeches and became a career development coach at Career Advancement Systems in 2013.
Amirault’s variety of jobs have helped him learn how to identify desired skills that span across diverse professions. “I’m not a magician, but I know how to tell stories — and get those who are displaced in the market back on their feet,” he says.
His experience has also helped him identify what his clients have to offer and market themselves persuasively. “Somewhere between 85 and 95 percent of people either understate what they’ve done to add value or undersell themselves. They don’t know what their real value proposition is.”
Amirault’s work isn’t just about selling a product but about helping individuals make the process about searching for a fulfilling daily routine something that connects an individual to his or her community. He finds that technical skills only take his clients so far. When questions of passion and purpose are lost, his clients often lose steam.
“I found that when I was working with clients, and we would redo their resume and LinkedIn and give them job search strategies, but instead of saying ‘I have a new lease on life’ and ‘I’m ready to charge ahead,’ people would get stuck,” Amirault says. The problem his clients faced, he says, wasn’t that they lacked the tools or professional background to be competitive candidates, but that “the inspirational motivation was lacking.”
Amirault’s goal is to help clients amass tools to market themselves, but also to inspire them to use these tools in pursuit of an exciting and energizing mission. “There are too many people out there who are trying to figure out ‘how to’ instead of ‘why,’” Amirault says. “The ‘how to’ is important — you need that — but the why is even more so.”