5 Steps to Developing an Effective Job Search Strategy
Finding a job is not for the faint of heart. It requires tenacity, persistence and a great deal of positive energy. Experts will tell you that to get the best results from your job search, you have to commit to finding a job as if it WERE your job. The more time and concentrated effort, the greater and faster the payoff.
If you're on the hunt for a new job, you need to build a strategy to help you achieve your goals. Here are five steps to help you have a successful job search:
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1. Start with self-analysis
Look at your academic history, interests, volunteer activities, talents, hobbies, values, lifestyle, ambitions, etc. Then determine the positions that best match these criteria. Clear occupational goals and objectives will keep your search focused and on track. Also, look at the skills and credentials you have that will support a particular job. Do you have a solid match?
2. Prepare and organize
Create a personal data sheet to keep track of your employment applications and any interactions you have with potential employers. Get up to speed on any competency tests you may be required to pass for a position. Prepare your resume, print your business cards, launch your website, make copies of your samples, design your portfolio, draft a cover letter template, draw up a list of references, identify associations and networking events, and organize a support group of friends, colleagues (past and present), alumni, and relatives to help you conduct your search. Now you have everything in place. Start looking!
3. Search in the right places
You shouldn't keep your job search to just one job board. Widen your reach and look in a variety of places. You never know when an opportunity will arise or where it will come from. Consider using any or all of these resources to look for job openings:
- Personal Contacts: Talk to family members, friends, career centers, professional colleagues, etc. about finding a job. Remember, one of the most popular ways employers have of filling a position is to hire someone who was recommended by a trusted friend or associate.
- Networking: To find a job, you need to have more than just casual conversations; you must target your efforts to purposefully build a circle of contacts who can help with your job search. Search out all possible ways to meet the right people— Internet communities, associations, industry events, trade shows, business clubs, volunteer organizations, conferences and social gatherings are just a few. One popular networking tactic is the informational interview. This technique is used to gather information regarding the skills, training and experience needed for a particular occupation. It can also be a good way to learn about a company and gain an entrée into the organization.
- The Internet: There are numerous online resources for job seekers today, and it can be difficult to know where to start. Search engines like Google can be a great research tool to begin with. Create a list of companies you are interested in and search their websites to learn about positions available and whether or not the company is a good fit. You should also search job board sites such as Indeed and Glassdoor. Most job board sites allow you to post your resume or portfolio and set up automated job searches. They can also email you positions that fit your set criteria, saving you time and extra effort.
- Professional Associations: Many professions have associations that offer employment information on their websites, including job listings and career resources. These associations may also publish professional journals or trade magazines that carry job ads.
- Employment or Staffing Agencies: Agencies can be a valuable resource for job seekers. Staffing professionals often have inside knowledge on specific industries and may know about available positions before the general public. They can also help you in the negotiation stages to help you get the salary you deserve.
4. Practice your interview skills
As job hunting is not an everyday task for most people, even the most self-assured candidate can get a little rusty. Before you go into a job interview, consider doing a practice run with a friend. This will alleviate any performance anxiety during the real interview and will allow you to fine-tune your presentation and build confidence. After a job interview, jot down any questions that were particularly difficult for you or moments during the interview when you felt yourself falter. Awareness and practice will make you an adept and poised interviewee in no time.
5. Stay positive
Many job seekers approach their search with a great deal of trepidation. They resent the loss of control in their lives and become easily frustrated by the smallest setbacks. Try to look at the job search as an opportunity to discover what you truly want to do and to further refine your options. It takes persistence and patience, and the job market is constantly changing. Sometimes jobs are scarce; sometimes they are plentiful...and an employer who isn’t hiring today may be hiring tomorrow.