Get control of your job search
If you think an improved economy will make it easy to get a job, think again. Some jobs may be easier to get. But are any of those jobs right for you? The qualifier, of course, is whether the available jobs will meet your needs. Will just any job do? If not, and you’re expecting to find your dream job, you may need to face some realities about how it will happen.
Having clear goals is essential.
To capture your dream job, you’ve got to be clear about what that means. Articulating your short-, mid-and long-term goals is the first step in an effective job search. It needs to be your priority. Keep your eyes on the prize (your long-term goal) and develop a sound plan for accomplishing it. These efforts will help keep you focused on the right jobs. Having clearly defined goals will keep you from going off into a ditch.
Haphazard or scattered efforts typically miss the mark.
Haphazard or scattered efforts typically miss the mark. While you may feel busy, they can cause you to waste a lot of time. Consequently, you can end up feeling more disappointed than productive. A clear picture of everything you want and need gives you greater control. After you establish your goals, create a plan with tactical actions for achieving them. Research your ideas carefully and check out your assumptions. This work takes time and will require planning. A carefully considered plan will ensure you learn what you need to know to make the right decisions.
Focus your efforts.
Enlisting the following steps will help you make the most of your time, ensure you focus your efforts, keep you on track, and help you remain in control.
Develop a process. Get out of the “lotto” mentality. Avoid random or casual applications. They can be draining and unproductive. Create a system for approaching your job search or career transition the same as you manage a work project. Start at the beginning and work toward the end goal. Write down every one of your ideas. What do you need to know? Who or what is likely to be a good resource?
Set objectives and timelines. Be clear about what you need to accomplish and exactly when you will do it. Make a commitment in your calendar for each item on your “to-do” list. Plan out specific dates and times to work on each task. Be sure you block enough time for reading, researching, conversations, and following up with contacts.
Use a system for staying organized. Piles of paper or an inbox full of emails won’t help you get clear about the next steps. Develop a system you will follow consistently to save and store information related to your search. It’s critical to have a means to immediately access notes, job descriptions, tips, and correspondence. As an example, I use files on my hard drive to save documents and create files in my email client for saving correspondence. Access to all related information is a surefire way to connect the dots between conversations from different sources and decide what to do next.
Be realistic about your skills.
Be realistic about your competitive position. Stop fooling yourself. Don’t let your ego get the better of you. If you’re one of several hundred people applying for a role, be clear about skills that are deal breakers. Use your network and online resources to tell you what is necessary against hitting the ground running in a new role. Understandably, you would need to learn the ropes. However, an employer expects you to demonstrate the fundamental skills to execute the job. You’ll be wasting time applying if you compete with people who have mastered the necessary components. The more realistic you are about your skills (and how they’re perceived), you’ll avoid beating your head against a brick wall.
Commit to doing what it takes.
Apply yourself. Commit to doing what it takes. If you’re unemployed, work at least eight hours a day. Be willing to work evenings and weekends if that’s what it takes to follow up on an opportunity. You’ll get results directly related to the effort you invest. If you’re already working full time, schedule time each day to work on your plan for moving forward.
Develop a thick skin and be ready to learn. Rejection is just part of the process. Getting turned down happens to everyone. Prepare yourself for it. Be willing to examine your approach and make a plan for figuring out how you can improve. Face each situation with an open mind and view it as a learning opportunity. Making excuses or blaming a rejection on external forces will not help move you forward.
Get help. Finding work in today’s market should not be an assumed skill. There is little information taught in school about how to conduct a job search. And even less about preparing for all the changes the market will go through or how to plan for them. This is a minute-by-minute game. Those of us who are in it every day are better able to help you navigate the uncertainty of it all.
Stay on track.
Like a railroad track, the route to your dream job can be full of curves, uphill climbs, downhill plunges, and unforeseeable obstacles. Learning and following time-tested ways to engineer your course will enormously increase your odds of reaching your destination.