Imagine trying to build a house without a blue print. You might have a great vision of what the end result will look like, but without a plan, your effort might be going into fruitless pursuit. It’s the same with a job search. A lot of people want to jump right in without a strategic plan that gets them to hired. It’s tempting to just apply to as many jobs as possible, but unfocused efforts only lead to frustration and a prolonged job search.
Here are some common markers of a job search that is lacking a good strategy:
- Unclear objective- “I’ll take anything”
- No daily or weekly goals – “What should I do today?”
- Success measured by number of jobs applied for or resumes sent out
- Running out of job search activities – “What do I do now?”
- Feeling frustrated or discouraged – “I’ve tried everything and nothing worked. It’s just impossible to find a job.”
- Frantic activity such as racing to send out a resume or meet a new contact, then not hearing back afterward.
- Lack of clarity and consistency in using LinkedIn, Facebook and Twitter as job search tools
- Little meaningful progress – “I’m spinning my wheels”
A thoughtful job search strategy assures steady progress on defined goals towards a positive end result and overcomes the issues listed above. It allows you to work on multiple fronts to market yourself, build your network, and interview successfully. The time management that comes with a strategy lets you make solid progress with the limited amount of time and energy you have. The next steps and action items are always clear because you’ve set priorities. Here are the key elements of a successful job search strategy:
- A clear target, based on what you want to do, are qualified to do and what there is demand for in the marketplace
- Thoughtful marketing materials (including resume and cover letter), customized for each use
- Multiple job lead channels, with an emphasis on networking which is crucial in today’s market
- Conscious decisions about time spent on various job search activities
- Activities which keep skills sharp and your resume fresh
- Continually growing understanding of best practices for job search
- A system of managing contacts, leads, resume versions and all the other information to stay organized
- A step by step plan for executing your strategy
- Measurable goals to assure success
- A consistent method to measure progress and prioritize activities
It doesn’t take long to see the benefits of a job search strategy. Job seekers report an immediate sense of purpose and progress, knowing each day what they are trying to achieve and how they are going to do it.