A successful job search consists of many different facets, each of which must be crafted to support the others. This article will focus on seven steps that I have found beneficial to my clients during career counseling over the last fourteen years. I will discuss the use of the internet in a separate article, as it is the fastest growing method for employers to search for employees and vise-versa.
The seven steps are:
First, as a potential employee, you must treat the job search plan and process as seriously as you would any other professional activity or a part time job. If you wish to be successful in a timely fashion, you must be willing and prepared to devote fifteen to twenty hours per week to the effort. Begin by conducting detailed research to understand your skills and their applicability to the private sector, and how those skills complement your long-term career goals. During this step, you must learn key facts about your targeted industry, the firms within that industry, and start the process of understanding how to best “sell the product” (yourself) to the employer. A note of caution: you must also ready yourself to deal with the inevitable disappointments, delays and detours on your way to your new career.
Second, take the time to organize your job search. While spending fifteen to twenty hours of quality time weekly on the search is an essential component of the search, working smart is also imperative. Working smart involves development of a usable structure for the effort. I recommend that you organize your search by categories of firms or organizations, for example:
A. Active opportunities – which I define as firms that, based on your initial research, are likely to have openings in your area of specialization, and that you plan to respond to (in the event of an actual recent job announcement/lead) or contact personally in the near future – not to exceed 90 days. To enhance effectiveness, I recommend that you establish a separate file for each file in this group, containing the results of your initial research on the position/firm/industry, a copy of the want ad or lead information, and a copy of the tailored resume and cover letter sent to the firm.
B. Interested organizations – If a firm expresses any interest following the initial contact, their file moves to this section. At this time, conduct more in-depth research on the industry, firm, and position, requesting detailed job descriptions, annual reports and allied information. I would also contact my personal and professional references at this stage, to brief those who can best support my candidacy for this specific opportunity, insuring that I provide them with my updated and targeted resume to serve as a “memory jogger”. After verifying their willingness to support my candidacy by a personal phone conversation, I list their names and contact information on a separate piece of paper, separate from the resume, for presentation to the organization when requested.
C. Inactive cases – I define this category as firms contacted, with no response, or firms in which you are no longer interested. Forty five to sixty days after the initial contact, review the files of all companies, to ensure that you are keeping only likely opportunities in the first two categories above. Maintain inactive files in your system for at least six months from the date of change, as most firms keep your resume in their “active consideration” files for six months from date of receipt.
Third, as you deem necessary, and based on firm feedback, input from outplacement professionals and other trusted sources, revise your resume to make yourself more competitive in the field. As you search continues, and you become more familiar with your chosen career field requirements, and more focused on its demands, you may determine that the resume you initially prepared no longer adequately address the essential criteria of the chosen career field and allied opportunities. Please remember that the resume is a “living document”, that can be (and should be) adjusted based on changed circumstances, skills, and improved knowledge of your field’s requirements.
Fourth, utilize all avenues available in your search – while networking is an excellent source of opportunities in the “hidden” job market, the smart, focused job seeker also reviews and utilizes Internet job sites (additional article to be published) outplacement firms, both no-fee and fee, and old style “Sunday want ads” to ensure they are casting the widest possible net in their search.
Fifth, each individual needs a daily action plan, designed to keep you focused on the daily and mundane tasks associated with the job search. This is especially important for those individuals who are conducting a search while unemployed, for it is all too easy to allow other activities to assume a higher level of importance than finding a new career opportunity. I encourage job seekers to establish a daily “to do” list for the next day’s activities. While you may not accomplish all items on the list each day, using a daily task list will assist you in the establishment (or reestablishment) of a sense of personal control over the search and your life. Individuals who keep busy doing necessary (not make work) career search activities have dramatically less likelihood of depression, as done properly, you will be so busy searching for that new career position that you won’t have time to enter depression.
Sixth, I encourage you to pursue each and every job lead – even if the salary and benefits (total compensation package) is marginal, based on your realistic evaluation of your skills, needs, and what the market will pay for those skills. By aggressively pursuing leads, you will quickly gain a first hand understanding of the rules of the job search game in your chosen field, and increase your proficiency in the art of “face to face sales/interview skills that are so vital today. Active leads pursuit will also reinforce your feelings of self-worth as objective outsides help you confirm the fact that you have the requisite skills for career success in the “dreaded private sector”.
Seventh, go for it!! If you want to be successful in the job hunt, you must:
a. Have a master’s knowledge of the product you are selling (YOURSELF) and his/hers strengths and weaknesses, both for individual knowledge and to know how to maximize your strengths and minimize your weaknesses from the employer’s perspective.
b. Ask each “buyer” employer to purchase the product – your skills, background and experience. Only by constant improvement of your individual job search skills, your individual knowledge of market demands, and honing your personal sales ability will you eventually “close the deal” for a new career job with the salary and benefits package you need, want and desire.
c. Don’t be afraid to ask for help, as a chapter member, I will do whatever I can to assist you in the search. Contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org. Good Luck and Good Hunting.
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