Job Search Strategies That Don’t Suck

by Denham, Thomas J. Thursday, March 29, 2007
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An individual will be more prepared to take on the demands of an actual job search only after they have completed the first two stages of the career development process: self-assessment (Who am I?) and career exploration (Where am I going?). Getting started can be the hardest part, but investing your time will be worth the results. Here are my top ten tips for a successful job search campaign.

1. Clarify your short-term and long-term goals. Be honest and specific as possible with your career priorities and commit them to writing. Perhaps you urgently need a new job right now, but also think about where you would like your career to be in 3 to 5 years. What are you willing to sacrifice in the short-term to get to your long-term objectives?

2. Establish a careful job search action plan. Design a record keeping system. Will you need to relocate to secure your next opportunity? Set a pace that works for you by breaking down large tasks into smaller more manageable weekly assignments. Start reading online career articles and job search books that can be found at your local bookstore or library. By reading at least 10 pages per night, you will continue to learn about what you need to do to land the job.

3. Devote time and develop a time frame. Depending on your situation and salary expectations finding a job can take on average 3 to 9 months. You will get out of this project exactly what you put into it; therefore, commit a set number of hours each week for accomplishing specific tasks on your list. Networking is the best job search technique, but it also the most time-consuming. Also consider how much money you are willing to spend on travel and other career expenses.

4. Get help. Job searching can be a lonely process. Partnering up with a mentor, coach or career counselor can help you stay organized and focused. Forming a “dream team” of friends and advisors can help you stay motivated and also may provide job leads.

5. Research your target markets. Develop your prospect list of possible employers that interest you. You may need to submit 30 to 40 resumes that lead to five to ten interviews that result in two to three offers. Identify the top three to five skills your potential companies seek.

6. Decide which methods to use. Networking remains the number one job search technique. However, you should not ignore other methods including a targeted direct mail campaign, the job bulletin from a college career center, the classifieds, employment agencies, headhunters, career fairs, job search clubs, NYS Department of Labor job listings, internships, volunteering, and Internet resources. The more techniques you utilize the better.

7. Be well armed. Sharpen your resume and cover letter. Remind your reference of your job pursuits. Polish your phone skills. Prepare for the most neglected part of the search: the interview.

8. Be positive and enthusiastic. Try not to feel overwhelmed or frustrated with all you need to do. Your search is more like a marathon than a sprint. Be prepared for a search that takes longer than expected. A good attitude can help you remain confident about achieving your goals over the long haul.

9. Evaluate your progress. Along the way, make sure your plan is flexible and reassess how you are doing and what activities are effective. Do you need more training, education or experience? Do you need to modify, redirect or revise your job targets and goals? Is it time to go after your “safety” jobs?

10. Be sure to follow up. Contact your leads and request a meeting or interview after a reasonable amount of time. Stay politely persistent with employers. Write a tailored thank you note after the interview.