In a job search, just as in an actual job, planning and organising things create better results. When you are in the process of doing a job search, make a plan that includes specific actions and realistic timelines, and then stick to it! Taking a methodical approach means you’ll be able to make use of several different avenues for professional development and keep them all straight.
Know where you are
Before you draw up a job search plan, really evaluate yourself and be honest about your present situation.
Are you a new graduate looking for a job for the first time?
Are you someone with experience and looking for better opportunities?
Have you been thinking of shifting to another industry?
You have first to decide where you want to go and what you have to offer.
Evaluate your CV
If it had been some time since you wrote your CV, you need to update this so that it will make you stand out from the rest. Create a personal brand package that showcases your work experience. At the same time, it highlights qualities like professionalism, friendliness, responsiveness and other soft skills that can demonstrate your worth to your prospective employer.
Plot your job search agenda
Once you have determined your target and have developed your personal branding package, then you can start designing your job search program on how to best achieve your objective.
Schedule your job search activity around how you work best. Perhaps you feel better putting extended time into one project per day. Or maybe you stay sharper if you spend shorter amounts of time on a variety of projects. Understanding your ideal time management strategy means that you devise a plan that is achievable and allows you to work to your maximum potential.
Set a job search quota
Write out a list of items that you’d like to complete within your weekly time frame. Use what you know about yourself to break those tasks down by day. For example, one type of job seeker might choose to make all applications for the week on one day, spend another day updating online profiles, and another on networking. Some job seekers may prefer to do smaller chunks of each of those tasks every day. However you choose to break down the workload, at the end of the week, you will have made significant progress in your goal of landing your dream job.
Regularly check on job postings by companies. Many recruiters and hiring decision-makers use them to source candidates for job positions.
Your search program should establish connections between you and your target audience. Program to regularly touch base with influential people in your network and determine how you can strengthen your relationship with them. Set a goal contact at least three of them weekly. Continue this activity even after you got a new job. Building your personal network is an investment in broadening your sphere of contacts and a solid path to great jobs in the future. Connect with everyone you know, and in turn with those that they know through community and professional events. Do the same with your school alumni association. Use also social media like LinkedIn and Twitter for the same purpose.
Consider hiring an executive recruitment firm
You might want to work with a professional executive recruiter. These recruiters know of internal job openings and those from companies that aren’t fond of advertising job openings.
If you collaborate with these recruiters, choose carefully and identify those whom you trust and have connections with the industry where you would want to work. Be careful especially with giving out information about yourself or your employer.
Prep for the interview
Your plan for a job search is to get your interview by the hiring decision-maker of the company you are targeting. So while you are working on getting that interview, include in your program your preparation for the actual interview. Be prepared and practice well how you will present yourself. Anticipate what questions interviewers will ask you and how you will present yourself. Be honest in your presentation and do not boast. Get help from people you trust to prepare you for that important interview.
Get ready for challenges
Another element that should be present in your agenda has to do with potential obstacles. Maybe you’ll need a particular certification or license to be considered for the job you want. If you plan to transition between industries, you might need to develop more relevant experience in the new field. Understanding the obstacles up front means that you should expand your program to schedule the time to address them in your overall plan.
Keep calm and search on
Clearly, there is so much more to a successful job search than just applying for jobs. From honing and updating your CV and online profiles, to continuing education, industry research, and professional networking, there is a lot to do! Having an established plan of action makes the process less overwhelming, because rather than the frantic mindset of “I’ve got 1000 things to do!” you can relax into “Today I am doing A and B.” Staying calm and present in the particular task of the moment means your work product will be better, too.
Spend a bit of time each day only keeping track of the work you’ve put in. That will make your job search easier in that you can see at a glance what you’ve completed and what you still need to do. You can follow up on applications you’ve already made and continue to foster those contacts you’re developing. And time spent on the organisation will also help to keep your spirits up by providing a visual representation of all that you’ve achieved.
Being unemployed can be stressful and overwhelming, so be sure to plan some time for self-care as well. A well thought-out plan should provide for leisure time, just not to the detriment of measurable results regarding the job search. And always take a moment to give yourself credit for the work you’ve put in, even if you haven’t reached the finish line just yet. Positive minds tend to see and access more possibilities than negative ones. You’ll be surprised at what you can achieve with the right mindset. Good luck!