Is it find a new job time? Despite how busy we get this time of year, it’s normal to find yourself contemplating your career and life matters. Time off work, the emotions of the season, the end of one year and start of the next puts many of us in a thoughtful state of mind. You might even find yourself considering a change of job. You could make it a New Year’s resolution. If you are ready to find a new job or you are out of work, here are nine steps to take to find that perfect job.
If you want to maximize your career success, don’t treat an effort to find a new job as something that starts when you check out your first want ad and ends when you get an offer of employment. There are three stages to changing jobs:
- Stage One: Preparing for Change
- Stage Two: Making the Transition
- Stage Three: Relaunching Your Career
It’s natural to be concerned about the mechanics of applying for jobs. Having a combination of a great resume, attention grabbing letters/emails, strong interviews and compelling references are usually all important to finding a job. However, the preparation you conduct before formally launching your search can dramatically improve your opportunities. Later, the steps you take in the period after getting a job offer and then starting a new job can have a major impact on your success and fulfilment in your new position.
It’s easy to let a job search run you. You apply for any job that seems reasonable. You are thankful for any interview you get. You follow whatever process is presented to you and you hope for a job offer. Of course, there are many parts of a job search you can’t control. The key is to take charge of the what you can control. The more you prepare, the ‘luckier’ you will be.
Preparing for Change
At the time of writing this article, the job market is fairly strong and, on average, your chances of finding a job are pretty good. Most people, though, can benefit from seriously preparing for a change of employment. Preparation is especially important if you are at the start of your career, near the end of it, returning to the workforce, changing careers, searching for the first time in years or unsure of what’s next and how to make a move. That’s right, preparation can benefit pretty much everyone looking to make a change in their job.
Even if you are confident you will find work, your goal should be to find a great new job. As you will see from the steps that follow, preparation gets you more than halfway there.
Step 1: Position Yourself for Success
Remember, people are hiring YOU, not just your resume. So, make sure you, personally, are ready for the job search ahead. Here are some tips to position yourself for success before you submit your first application:
- Look After Yourself and Feed Your Soul
Get rest. Get outside. Get some exercise. Eat well. Pamper yourself. When you are happy and energetic, people notice.
- Clear the Decks
Treat finding a new job like it’s the big task that it is. Make sure that you have time to put into the networking, writing and more that you have ahead. If necessary, free up time in your schedule. Solicit the assistance of friends and family to help with some of your non-work commitments.
- Start at a Sprint, but Prepare for a Marathon
Sometimes, a job search can go quickly. It’s not unusual though for a search to take longer than people expect. Too often people start their job search slowly, and get caught wishing they had put more effort in early on. The more effort you put into preparing for your search, the easier your search will usually go.
- Reconnect With People Who Can Help You
Most job opportunities come from people you know. So, as early as possible get out and, basically, network with your friends, family and acquaintances. Even if you are not ready to announce your job search yet, there is value in warming up your connections.
- Look for Other Networking Opportunities
Try to get out in a professional way whenever you can. Seek out events related to your career. If your job search is public, let people know you are seeking a good match. If not, ask people about what’s going on where they work and what it’s like there. Network online too. Find relevant industry discussions. Comment on professional matters on your social media and update your online profiles.
- Shore Up Your Finances
If you are or will be without work for a period of time during your search, treat it like it will last longer than you expect. Where possible reduce your expenses. If you are still working, build up your savings. You don’t want the stress of personal finances negatively affecting your search. By having more money set aside, you will feel less stuck in your current situation.
- Level Up
Where you can, increase your skills and credentials before or during your search. Take an online or classroom course, get a certification, take on a learning opportunity task at work or find an impressive volunteer opportunity.
Step 2: Decide What’s Important
It’s hard to find the perfect job when you don’t know what’s important to you. If your top goal is money and getting ahead, you could be looking for a different opportunity than if working with a group of people you really like is your most important priority.
Ask yourself the following questions:
- What do you want out of life?
- What motivates you?
- What are you passionate about?
- What are your key values?
- What are your rules and lines you will not cross?
- Is the right job or the right employer more important to you?
Step 3: Visualize Your New Future
You probably know the value of practice. However, you may not have considered that practice is as much a mental exercise as it is a physical one. That’s why Olympic athletes visualize what a perfect performance looks and feels like all the way through to imagining being on the podium. Visualizing success is mental preparation for achieving your desired future. So, take these steps to help direct your job search:
- Visualize what your perfectly ideal and then realistically ideal life would be like. Be specific and detailed in your consideration. Write down your thoughts. Jump into the task with full force — be intense about it. The more vivid you imagine your future, the more this exercise will guide you to that outcome.
- Do the same with your ideal job. What’s the job look like and feel like overall? What’s a perfect day like? How much do you want to earn now and in the future?
- Consider who your role models are and determine which behaviours you should be mirroring.
Step 4: Take Stock
Now that you have reviewed where you want to be, examine where you currently are. Just like navigating, it’s hard to get somewhere when you don’t know where you are starting from. Ask yourself the following questions:
- What have you liked and disliked about your most recent and previous jobs?
- What’s gone well and not well in those jobs? What’s been the cause of that?
- How happy are you and why?
- What constraints do you have that will play a role in the next position you take?
- What are your strengths and weaknesses?
- What is your competitive advantage over other people you will be competing against during your search?
- What have your career and job achievements been?
- What is important to work on?
- Are you looking to change jobs or careers?
- What’s the current state of the job market? What’s out there?
- What’s your Plan B if Plan A was an issue?
Step 5: Solicit Feedback
Now that you have done a bit of a self-assessment, seek the feedback of others. We all have blind spots when it comes to thinking about ourselves. Talk to people you respect. Ask them for a friendly, but critical assessment of you on matters that relate to your career. Ask them the following questions:
- What do they think you should be doing with your life and career?
- What do they see as your greatest strengths?
- What do they think you need to work on more?
- What do they think would be a good match for you job and career wise?
In addition to asking about yourself, ask them their thoughts on careers including the following:
- What would they do differently in their career if they could?
- What do they feel happiest about looking back at their careers?
Seeking feedback doesn’t have to be something you just do one time. As your job search progresses you can reach out again with further questions.
Step 6. Build a Plan
Now, it’s time to take all that thinking you have done and conclusions you have reached and prepare a plan. It should be both a career plan and a job search plan. On the career front, write down the following:
- Where would you like to be in a year, five years and ultimately in your career?
- What are the key steps you believe you are going to have to take along the way to get there?
For your job search, consider the following for your plan:
- If you are still working, when do you want to start your search? If you are not working, how much time do you have before not having a job becomes a serious problem?
- What kind of job do you want?
- What kind of company are you seeking? What kind of boss?
- Where would you like your job to be located?
- What do you need to do to land your ideal job?
- Who can help you? How can they help?
- Who should you ask for references?
- Using the points you’ve considered in the previous steps, make a summary of the skills, experience and personal traits that make you the right candidate for your ideal job.
- Set a timeline for the parts of your search you can control like how much time you will spend each day/week and how soon you will have your resume and application/cover letter template ready.
- Identify specific companies you would like to work for and the department in each you would likely be working in with them.
- Search LinkedIn for people who have jobs like the one you want. Where are they currently working? What does their background of skills look like? How do you compare?
- If you are seeking a more senior or more skilled position, identify companies that are recruiting agencies for the type of position you want.
- Identify the job boards that seem to be the best fit for the type of position you are seeking.
Step 7: Finalize Your Preparations & Craft Your Message
The previous six points cover a lot. Now’s the time to make sure you have addressed all the outstanding issues before you actively start looking. This includes making sure you have addressed any obstacles you have identified that are still standing in the way of your success.
The final task is to craft the story of you in the best possible light to build your resume and online presence. You want to include the following:
- What is your job goal?
- What are your very best strengths from your list of skills, experience, achievements and traits?
- What have been your important past positions and what did you achieve in each? Be specific.
- Outside of work, what have you done that demonstrates your strengths?
The Numbers on Where to Focus Your Energy to Find a New Job
Ask the average person to consider what a job search entails and most will immediately picture a process of reviewing job boards and the careers sections of employer websites. However, only a small fraction of jobs are filled via those sources. There is a hidden job market. That is, jobs that are never posted anywhere because they get filled by a direct referral — so no posting required. This despite the fact that the majority of job seekers apply via online sites. Paying attention to the other hiring routes dramatically increases your odds of finding a job that is personally and financially rewarding.
Making the Transition — The Actual Job Search
With all the work and thought you have put into finding a new job, you should be more than ready to get down to the actual task of finding the right fit for you. Your prospects for success should be significantly better than when you started.
Step 8: Make Your Move
A job search is about truly connecting with people and presenting your story in the best possible light. You’ve prepared the latter, now it’s time to connect.
- Reach out to any recruiters you have identified. If they have procedures for sending unsolicited resumes, use them. Otherwise, contact the companies.
- Talk to people online in forums specific to your desired work. Casually ask about job opportunities where appropriate.
- In cases where you haven’t already, ask your friends and family about potential job opportunities.
- Review the job opportunities at companies you would like to work. If you don’t see a relevant job at a company, reach out to people at those companies and ask about opportunities.
- Start reviewing job boards for posted positions.
- Contact specific employers.
As a tip, don’t hesitate to apply for a position where you don’t perfectly match the requirements in an ad. Many positions are filled by people that are not the perfect match on paper. The general rule of thumb is if you qualify for 80% of what they are asking for, you should apply. You never know what your competition is going to look like.
Also, remember to stay positive. Finding a new job can be stressful. Consider reading my article on the importance of a positive mindset.
Relaunching Your Career
Transitioning to a new job doesn’t end when you have a job offer. The work you put in immediately following acquiring a new job will have a lasting impact on your career.
Step 9: Reposition for Success
With job offer and acceptance in hand, start by thanking everyone who helped you in your search. Once your move is public, announce it online. Acknowledge the positives of both the company you are leave and joining. Outline the new work you will be doing. Publicly thank those that especially helped.
When you start your new position, make a point of getting to know people. Identify those that you can grab a coffee or lunch with. Ask about their work. Ask them what they wish they knew when they started. Ask them how you can help them. Show people you are ready to be a valued member of the team and you will get off to a great start.
Your career is your most valuable financial asset long term. Do you believe in investing in yourself? If so, get in touch with me to learn more about how to land the best job for you and build a great career.
My career and life coaching services include one-on-one coaching to assist you in finding a new job.
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