There are some basic tips you can follow to target your job search that will minimize the time spent and maximize the results. Planning for you job search should be on the top of your list and you should have your plan (or a high level approach) completed before you start sending your resume to potential employers. How you spend your time during your job search is critical. You should also evaluate time spent on job search tasks versus results.
Once you decide to start a job search, your first thought is to apply to as many jobs as possible (especially if you are out of work). No matter how urgent your need to look for a new job may seem, you will save time and aggravation if you first spend a little time planning out your job search approach. A good job search plan will help you land a new job as quickly as possible.
As I mentioned in the Overview article, building a plan is not about spending all of your time creating a plan, but you do need to know how, where and what you will do in your job search. Your “plan” is essentially a number of lists and documents you will need to get your job search started. You will need to:
- Create lists of where you will send your resumes (friends, family, former coworkers, companies, recruiters, references and job search sites)
- Create and update all of your job search documents (resumes, cover letters, and thank you notes)
- Draft you plan of action (who you will contact first, how you will spend your time, etc.)
While this may sound a little overwhelming and very time consuming, the more time you spend on the three items above, the quicker you will land your new dream job.
Getting Started: The first step in your planning is to create all of the lists you will need to focus your search.
Lists you will create:
- Your Strengths, Accomplishments and Weaknesses – Make a list of what are you good at and where do you need some additional training or experience. You can use an aptitude resource to help (try Aptitude Test Practice – Tailored for Your Job Position and Industry). In addition to helping you focus your search, this list will also be a resource when reviewing and writing (or updating) your resume. The list of strengths and accomplishments also comes in handy for your interviews.
- Jobs that match your skills and experience – No sense applying for jobs where you don’t meet the requirements. Make a list of job titles (such as sales manager or budgeting analyst) that clearly match your skills and experience. The list should include job titles you’ve already held as well as the next level up. As an example, if you are a sales clerk, maybe you should be looking at sales manager positions in your search.
- Companies where you would like to work (including those that are in your industry) – Make you list of companies where you would like to work. Once you have this list, do some research to find competitors and add those companies to your list as well. Not really sure where you want to work? No worries, take a look at job postings on some job search boards and start with those companies.
- Your Network (friends, family, current and former coworkers) – This is your most important resource for leads, recommendations and advice. If you are using LinkedIn, your list should already be well established. If you are not yet using LinkedIn, take a look at this article – 5 Tips for Creating a Professional LinkedIn Profile. Once you’ve got your network list completed, prioritize the list based on those who are most likely to help you in your job search. Leveraging your network will be covered in more detail in the Networking segment.
- Recruiters for your industry/field – Recruiters are an important resource that requires minimal time other than the initial meeting. Creating a list requires some research on your part. There are a few links you can leverage to build your list (see the links below). More detail to follow on leveraging your recruiter network.
- Job search boards – Many job searchers spend a significant amount of time on job search sites. While they can be very useful, you should minimize the amount of time you spend applying for jobs via job search boards. Additionally, you should limit they number of job search boards you use to no more than three (one or two would be ideal). You should pick at least one specialized job search board (one that specializes in your industry or job function).
- References – Your references can make or break you, so you want to be sure you pick the right ones. They must be representative of your career and social networks. The general rule of thumb is to avoid relatives, but you should definitely leverage “friends of the family”. You also should have a fair representation of peers, subordinates and managers. There is more to references than just giving a list of names. What happens if they run a reference check on you? I don’t recommend putting references on your resume (a simple “references will be provided upon request”). Before finishing your list, speak to your references to ensure they feel comfortable providing references for you.
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Good luck in your search,