Plan Your Job Search! Work Your Plan!
Let’s face it; the single most important stress factor to any job seeker is financial. “Will I find a new job before I run out of cash?” Will I deplete my savings? Will I lose my home? All are very real possibilities which can be overwhelming. To be sure, the worst case will result if one becomes paralyzed by those thoughts and fails to engage in the process. Realistically, this is uncommon for accomplished professionals who have overcome challenges throughout their careers. You have the personal attributes and skills to be successful in your job search. Your goal is to find the best possible situation in the least amount of time, resulting in minimal disruption to your lifestyle.
I am a planner by nature, and by training. When confronted with a new challenging situation, my fallback position is to execute the problem-solving/planning cycle. I get organized. I analyze the situation; evaluate options, set goals; track activity; reassess; make adjustments; then set new goals. Developing a plan, committing that plan to paper, and working that plan gives me a measure of comfort that helps lower my stress level. I also subscribe to the “ready, fire, aim concept. Even when developing my plan. It eliminates analysis paralysis. So, while between jobs, I employed organization and planning routines that had never failed me. We will refer to this process throughout the book.
The starting point for your plan is to assess your skills and experiences. Then, determine where your background matches opportunities requiring your profile. The obvious objective is to find another employer in the same sector, doing the same job. But, that is just a place to start. In all likelihood, the best opportunities will be somewhat different from your last situation. The odds are that a smaller, emerging company in a different segment will become your next employer. As with any good plan, it is wise to allow flexibility to consider interesting opportunities as they occur.
Elements to factor into your plan:
• Establish a realistic time frame and the worst case scenario
• Define your compensation and geographical requirements
• Define your primary and secondary employer targets
• Ensure that your strategy is heavily focused on networking
• Establish an appropriate yet flexible weekly work routine
• Keep a diary
• Communicate, communicate, communicate
My search assignments take 90 days from start to finish, on average. Depending on the complexity of the assignment and the season of the year, a search can vary by 30 days, plus or minus. The adage of one month of search time for each $10K of salary is still appropriate. This statistic should help the job seeker develop a realistic duration for their search. For most people, especially those who have neglected their networks, it could take up to 90 days to reassemble and engage your network. Most people find new employment via networking activities so, prepare to spend 80% of your effort networking I will devote a lot of time to discuss the issue of networking.
An important element to the success of any plan is a system to track your effort and results. Job search is no different. Keep a record of who you have talked to, the nature of that discussion and follow up issues. Analyze your efforts. If your plan seems to be working, stay with it. If it needs some adjustment, do so and establish new goals. Write down your thoughts and feelings for successes and failures. Keep a diary as it will be helpful. Plan your work and work your plan. In my opinion, a systematic approach is the best way to find a new job and minimize your stress.
Key Points to Consider:
1. Develop a written Job Search Plan.
2. Keep a diary.
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Jim Weber, President
New Century Dynamics Executive Search
Author of: Fighting Alligators: Job Search Strategy For The New Normal
1. Strategic Partner – Atlanta-based B2B Professional Services Company – Complete
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