When faced with a job search campaign, you are forced to explore a lot of details and make a lot of choices. Keeping a clear head and managing the ups and downs of the process can be difficult, even more so if your expectations are unrealistic. So here are 10 things to consider before you get bogged down and lose sight (or faith!) in the process.
1. There is no magic formula
It would be nice if an effective job search consisted of a predictable series of steps that led to a satisfactory job. This is simply not the case. Everybody's needs are different and the jobs marketplace is constantly changing, so your approach has to be tailored to your needs and to your goals. There are well defined steps, but each individual approaches them uniquely. Your approach should make the best use of your personality, while at the same time getting all the necessary groundwork done at the same time.
2. It's a rollercoaster
Only in exceptional circumstances does someone simply apply for the first job they notice and get it. More often it is a long series of ups and downs, promises and rejections, excitement and bordom. Its a rollercoaster - one on which you are not alone. Expect several ups and downs and know that this is normal when you go on the job search rollercoaster.
Plan for the long term - an open ended process with continuous activity on your part. Think of it as a journey - with many possible turns, detours, and obstacles. You will become wiser and stronger for each wrong turn, and focus on the destination, not the last bad turn.
3. Uncertainty is a given
Perhaps the most stressful aspect is the new sense of uncertainty that goes with the process. You don't know if you are trying hard enough, doing the right things, how long the journey will take, and so on. You are also powerless to factors beyond your control - a victim of circumstances. Take note of the following tip: "If you manage every factor that's available to you to manage, you're doing everything you can do".
4. Use any help available.
You probably never went on any other rollercoaster alone - so why this one? One of the most important contributions to any successful job search is the assistance you get from friends, associates, family and professional advisors. They can assist you on two levels:
a) in managing your job search strategy - for example, cv preparation, getting organised for interviews etc. and
b) in making contact with possible employers, creating new leads etc. (called 'networking')
Professional advice from Career Coaches and Career Counsellors can be costly in the short term (especially if you are unemployed!), but could save you a lot more over the long term. Registering with Recruitment agencies costs nothing and may open opportunities worth considering (see section 'where to find jobs')
The most important point here is that you allow yourself to be open and willing to accept assistance and advice as a priority - and not think that this is a personal and private matter.
5. Its a numbers game
It can be hard not to take the process personally - and there may be times you think you the odds are against you. The truth is the odds usually are against you - but they are equally against all others on the same rollercoaster. So even if you are right for a particular job - so might several others, and you get disqualified primarily because you lost the numbers game. Consider the following:
- Hundreds of others may apply for the same classified ad whether in print or online
- How many people have you let know you are looking for a job? Have other people more or less people helping them?
- How many times does it take to make contact with each person you need to contact - it can take many calls to finally get through to someone. How often should you call? Will you be the first or last to get the message through?
- How many interviews with how many interviewers will you meet on your journey?
- How many rejections will you expect to get for how many applications? How many will not even reply to acknowledge your interest?
The point is that you are just one of many on the journey, so it is important that you do all of the things constantly to keep your chances as high as possible.
6. It will take longer than you would like
You would like your search to be over as quickly as possible - and in some cases this might be possible. However it is more likely that your search will continue for a significant length of time. You need to keep in mind that this is an open ended journey with no definite arrival time - lets face it, your not sure what the destination will be as yet.
7. The more time you spend focusing on the journey, the quicker the trip will be.
Setting a realistic pace for your job search is important. You will have to spend quite a lot of time at first as you get ready for the process (see Getting Organised), but once you are set up you need to decide how much time you want to spend on your new job - searching for a job!
Many people find it difficult to get into a frame of mind that this is really just another form of work - and should be treated with a similar attitude. It maybe more like part time work in reality as few people will find 35 - 40 hours of intensive job search activity realistic. Nonetheless, it is very easy to get distracted if you are no longer working regular hours, and one of the first things to lose out will be your job search.
If you are still working, you will need to set time aside within your already busy day to achieve your objectives. You will also need to be mindful when you make contact with potential employers - for example during normal working hours.
It also helps to consider that the range of activities required on your job search journey is quite broad - every meeting, outing, or activity plays a small part in the overall process. All occasions can potentially boost your chances as you meet new people and make it known that you are looking out for the 'right' opportunity.
8. Your attitude will influence your outcome.
On many occasions along the way you will be meeting people who may have the opportunity to help you, and ultimately employ you. Your attitude to your own job search is likely to be seen as similar to how your attitude would be if you were facing any other challenging task if employed. If you present yourself as lost and defeated, then that's not going to encourage others to recommend you to for a job. If you are purposeful and focused in how you present yourself, you will bee seen as capable and motivated - the sort of characteristics that will be noticed and sought after by employers.
9. Do it your way
When involved in the job search process, it's too easy to compare yourself with imaginary others who conduct a more strategic search, are more persuasive, have a wider network of contacts and are bristling with self-confidence and awards. It's easy to forget that they are looking for a job to match their needs and not yours. If you are mindful of the issues mentioned on this page and elsewhere in this site, you will be more prepared to go about a job search that suits you.
Work with what you have and what you can get. Remember that you are in charge of your own search. No coach, counsellor, mentor, or strategist can get you the job that you want or need.
To make the process as simple as its going to be, work on your people skills (see Career Skills). Learn how to be with people and, as best you can, to make them feel comfortable. How you put yourself out into the world of work - the way you impress people and make yourself memorable - will determine how successfully you'll navigate this journey.
Work on liking and approving yourself - because if you don't no one else will!
10. There is no perfect job
If you are fortunate enough to have plenty of offers, the temptation is to wait until the 'perfect job' comes along. This is not wise - there is no such thing as a perfect job. Focus instead on find your way to an ideal job - one that engages your interests, taps your skills and abilities, aligns with your career values, and suits your personal style.
Remember: your next job will probably not be the last job you will have. Nothing is forever. Change is constant. Evaluate each opportunity in the context of your career plans as you envision them currently, and in the larger context of your life.