One of the biggest challenges I have when trying to support people in their job search efforts, is working with individuals who have not experienced time in the “big picture.” Through many assessments and interviews with clients, the thing that stands out most is how ineffectively they use their time to find work. Quite honestly I think many suffer from a common issue known as defeat. While defeat is very problematic there are ways to overcome it, starting with planning.
Time in the big picture represents the early stage of establishing a goal. For most people the goal is the end result, which in essence is the big picture. But what about the time you spend inside the big picture attending to the smaller details? Often times the smaller details are over looked because we want instant gratification. (I blame technology for this) As a society, we have stopped taking time to practice patience and searching for answers from within ourselves because it seems most everything we need is easily accessible without looking inward.
In order to manage time effectively, be more productive and get the outcomes you desire, looking inward to discover what you want from life or in this case, what you want to achieve in your job search may be a better approach than simply turning on the computer and applying to random job postings. From my own personal experience in looking for work I learned early on that if I want to be successful and find opportunities, I need to have a plan first. While planning is somewhat tedious it really does help the job search process because it factors in time, focus, action and possible outcomes. It is also a way to minimize procrastination and set attainable goals on a weekly basis.
In developing an action plan, there are three questions you need to ask yourself…
1. What do I want?
Answering this question with “a job” is not helpful to your success-you need to be specific, relevant and have a realistic job target. Maybe part of your action plan is that you set time aside to do some career exploration. This is crucial because being able to identify your interests and match those with your current skills will enable you to effectively target positions that are realistic and relevant to your job search.
- The first step in career exploration is to take a few employment assessments…Because I am located in Canada, I recommend using ALIS (Alberta Learning and Information Service) to assist in your career exploration-It doesn’t matter if you are new to the job market or a seasoned professional; this is a great and comprehensive site for career exploration.
- Upon completing a user profile with ALIS, you will be given access to several free employment based assessments. (The user profile is confidential and you will have full access to your assessment results.) The “Know Yourself” assessment is a good starting point. Why not register a profile and give it a try today: http://careerinsite.alberta.ca/careerinsite.aspx
- OR for the United States, CareerOnestop also known as O*NET has similar tools and can be accessed here… http://www.careeronestop.org/ExploreCareers/SelfAssessments/FindAssessments.aspx
2. What am I ready, willing and able to do to get a job?
This is important for you to determine (not something you can find on Google) because if you are not ready, willing and able to take the action needed to become successfully employed, you are just spinning your wheels and creating more defeatist situations for yourself. There is more to finding employment than applying for jobs online; so what are you ready, willing and able to do that will improve your employment situation? Here are some suggestions…
- Update your skills/knowledge through workshops or free course opportunities-These can be found through your local library, social and government services, such as income support or non-profit organizations
- Get out of the house and volunteer for a cause that you believe in a couple times per week-It ads to your resume and skills and can also provide you with a sense of accomplishment that you don’t get by sitting at home waiting for the phone to ring; it may also provide a job opportunity if they like you.
- Join and participate with Meet-up and/or networking groups that are relevant to your career interests-Networking and making new contacts in person provides social interaction with others and may put you in touch with employers who need your skills.
- For a change of scenery-If you have a laptop or tablet, go to the library, Starbucks, Tim Hortons, McDonalds…anywhere that has WiFi and do your job search there! Just get away from your house and be part of society. (Too much isolation and alone time is a major cause of depression.) Also, if you are physically able, spend some time exercising-It doesn’t have to be rigorous, maybe just a walk, a bike ride, a swim or yoga…it relieves stress and helps brain function.
- Join LinkedIn if you haven’t already-(It is not like Facebook.) Explore the site, there is plenty of news and information, as well as groups and employers you can connect with.
- Research employers-find out more about the ones you’re interested in working for than just the jobs they have posted…How do you know you want to work for them if you haven’t done your research?
- Follow up with last week’s job applications-phone, email or go in person to the employers you applied with to follow up about your application/resume. This shows your interest in the position and company.
- Start a blog-Use your job skills and knowledge to your advantage! Write about your profession. Pick topics you have knowledge about and share your ideas with social networking outlets such as Google+, Twitter, Instagram and LinkedIn but also be willing to read, comment and share other peoples’ blogs and insights.
- Set up informational interviews-If you are serious about an employer and want more information, call them and request an informational interview. This isn’t about you landing a job with them; it’s about having an informational discussion with the Hiring Manager/CEO or HR Manager about their company.
P.S. For all my introverts, I too have been where you are and know how uncomfortable it is to step outside your comfort zone but when it comes to getting what you want, sometimes you have to be willing to get over yourself and meet new people in order to move forward.
3. How much time am I willing to invest in my success?
Time management is an essential skill. If you fall short in this skill, this is a great opportunity for you to start developing it. Whether you use your phone, computer or written calendar, you need to start scheduling your job search activities with your other daily activities and be prepared to hold yourself accountable to your schedule. After all, if you are unemployed, your job right now is to find a job and it should be treated with the same expectations that an employer would ask of you, including; attention to detail and priority, time sensitive duties and deadlines. This doesn’t mean to overwhelm yourself with only job search activities but you should be keeping track of what you are doing, as it gives a sense of purpose and provides structure and clarity to your most important objective-finding a job. In most cases, I recommend creating your schedule based on job search activities during weekday hours…8am-5pm. Along with scheduling your job search activities, you should also be thinking of completing these goals as if this is your actual job (Please note: Dress and look professional for work is always the first activity and you should also give yourself two 15 minute breaks and 30 minutes for lunch every day, just like an employer would give you.) Here is an example…
Once you have a plan in place, your job search will become less stressful and more productive-that is to say, you won’t be spending all of your time sitting at your computer and getting no results! Being proactive and engaging with meaningful activities will only increase your potential to find and secure a long-term position that works in your favour.