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Monday, November 14, 2011

Create A Strategic Plan for Your Job Search

Searching for a full time job can often be a full time job. It’s hard work to find work. The last thing you want to do is follow the old ‘spray and pray’ method of job searching where you spend countless hours scrolling through random online job postings or worse, circling jobs in the newspaper. In today’s competitive market you need to be focused, and you need to know what you want, what you have to offer and then where to search for it. To help make the process a bit easier, develop and follow a job search strategic plan. 

Focus and Define: 
Socrates said, ‘know thyself.’  And while he wasn’t necessarily referring to the job search, the advice is key to the process. Before you actually begin the job search, you need to discover who you are or who you want to be professionally. Make a list of your goals, values and beliefs, of your skills, accomplishments, and of experiences. Review the list and look for repetition and similarities, and then focus in on those key elements or must haves for your professional self.
   Once you have a firm understanding of your professional identity, you next need to parallel your defined skills, values, and beliefs to a career path and to a targeted list of employers. Do your research and create a list of 20 or more target companies/organizations for which you can utilize your newly defined identity.

Job Search Mission Statement:
You’ve already discovered who you are or who you want to be professionally and have created a target list of companies, now it’s time to write out a job search mission statement.  Be very specific about what you’re looking for – your core values and beliefs, the type of company, the type of skills used, the environment/culture of the workplace, the level of responsibility, the geographic region, potential for growth, and salary and benefits. Use this statement to help maintain your focus. When you’re feeling uncertain, come back to this statement; it will help you regain momentum.

The Action Plan:
The best written mission statement will go unfulfilled if you don’t act upon it. A great way to ensure action is to build a set of job search goals and strategies.  Be specific; be aggressive; be proactive; and be holistic on this part of the plan. When you’re writing the goals, use detailed strategies which include measurements, timelines and deadlines. This section allows you to hold yourself accountable, so be specific – you will congratulate yourself later for it.

An example of a goals and strategy section may look like this:

Goal:  Build a network of professional mentors and job search advisors in my
           chosen career path.
Strategies:
   Use LinkedIn groups feature to connect with leaders in the (fill in the name of
      the industry). I will respond to 1 article or post a week for (fill in the dates)
   Follow and connect with 10 new (fill in the name of the field) experts via Twitter each
      week  from (fill in the dates)

Once you have the action plan in place, you’ll want to create a way to keep track of your job search activities and progress. Whether electronic or paper, you’ll need to track the companies to which you’ve applied, all communications with companies, scheduled interviews, networking referrals, and all follow up activities required.  While tedious, staying on top of the job search details and logistics will pay off greatly once you’ve landed the job.

The beauty of the job search strategic plan is that it is transferrable to so many areas of professional life.  From job seeking to job promotions to job transitioning, having a strategic plan will help guide you smoothly to the career success you seek. 

To discuss the job search strategic plan or any other career related topics, contact me at 4dperspectives@gmail.com.  I look forward to helping you reach the next dimension of your career success.

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