Since we will spend nearly one third of our lives at our job, it is easy to understand why our career can be either one of the greatest sources of life satisfaction and happiness, or a source of unhappiness, stress, frustration, and even illness. With the stakes so high, it doesn’t make sense to put less thought into how they search for a job, than how they plan a nice dinner.
Do You “Look For Work” or Own a “Job Search Strategy?”
Nearly anything a person takes seriously, they make a plan for. No one spends time here and there, and gets a college degree. No athlete runs when they feel like it, and wins the New York Marathon. In the same way, to “win” your job search, you need to have a definite gameplan. The first step of which, is to identify the steps.
Steps For Success
The plan before the plan is to identify one or more titles of the type of job you want to target. Some people are crystal clear on what they want, others are unsure. A career coach can be a valuable asset to help you identify and clarify your strengths, interests, career options, and what career would make you the most fulfilled.
“A goal without a plan is just a wish.” ― Antoine de Saint-Exupéry
Now that you know your target, you can create a path to get there. Your career strategy really begins with ensuring you have the optimal resources to win the challenge. If you bring a sword to a gun fight or a functional resume to today’s job search, you might be a bit behind the times. If you aren’t aware or understand SEO, Applicant Tracking Systems, branding statements, reverse chronological resumes or the key ingredients that make up a successful resume and cover letter, a professional resume writer would be a vital asset to help you prepare your career documents.
Once you have the optimal tools for your quest, you can take the first step. The key parts to a successful career strategy include using LinkedIn, major job boards, niche job boards, networking, and continuous learning. Many people use recruiters with various levels of success.
Imagine a person that spends two hours every day in the gym. They would look extremely fit, correct? Now, imagine someone who goes to the gym “once in a while.” The more you have a designated time for something, generally the more successful you will be, and the quicker you will attain this success.
“If you don’t know where you are going, you’ll end up someplace else.” ― Yogi Berra
What I recommend is to begin your career search with designating whatever amount of time per week you can dedicate. It could be at lunchtime for 30 minutes every day, 6:00pm to 8:00pm Monday and Wednesday, etc. For the first week, divide your time equally among finding jobs on LinkedIn, major job boards (Monster, CareerBuilder), networking with people you know, and learning – in other words, search for niche job boards for your industry, watch YouTube videos on job search strategies, look up the latest job search apps.
By the second week, you hopefully found niche job boards that focus on your particular industry. For example if you are an RN, you may follow the Kaiser job board, medical worker jobs in your state, or other healthcare related resources. One key action item during week two is to quantify what is going on. Are you finding 20 jobs on LinkedIn for every one job on CareerBuilder? Are people in your network helping you to land five interviews per week, while the other sources are far less? Keep a record.
“Don’t spend time beating on a wall, hoping to transform it into a door.” — Coco Chanel
Also during week two, you can reduce the time you spend learning to around 10% of your total job search time. Increase the time you spend in these niche job boards, as well as the major job sources, LinkedIn, and networking.
By the third week, you now have the numbers. Numbers are the lighthouse by which you can navigate your way quicker towards what is successful, and what is a waste of time. Review any source that is ineffective and eliminate it. If a certain job board or app is providing the best leads, increase your time using it with the time you saved by stopping what wasn’t working.
“Time is the coin of your life. It is the only coin you have, and only you can determine how it will be spent. Be careful lest you let other people spend it for you.” — Carl Sandburg
It is possible – but not probable – to land an interview with the first job you apply for. Searching for the right job takes time and effort, like anything worthwhile. Be sure to schedule breaks and time for fun and relaxation.
Navigating and planning a successful job search can be stressful. Once you have all the optimal resources and are spending your time optimally, it is only a matter of when, not if you will land your dream job.