3 Steps to Start Your Job Search Off Right

How you start off a job search can have a profound impact on how long it takes to get the job you want and whether or not you find a job that will make you happy.  I am going to walk you through three steps that are small investments in time that will make your job search as smooth and easy as possible.

Decide What You Want to Do
First, you need to know what it is that you want to do.  This may sound silly. And, I can understand why it would because it is so obvious. Here is the thing – people often apply for jobs and are not really sure what their goals are.

Lack of focus tends to show in interviews and resumes more than people would think, and interviewers like to believe that the people they hire truly want the job (as opposed to just ANY job).  This makes lack of focus counterproductive to your goal of getting the job you want.

If you already know exactly what you are looking to do. Great. Look into potential companies that you would like to work for.

On the flip side, it is extremely normal to want to explore different options. Don’t stress out if you are in this boat.

The key is to align options of what you want to do with your goals and what you are good. Sounds simple – the truth is it can be really hard.

Starting your job search off right will help you more quickly get to the jobs you want.

Starting your job search off right will help you more quickly get to the jobs you want.

Nothing is set in stone, and you don’t have to discover your life’s calling or your passions.  Just start with what interests you and go from there.

Begin with a wide scope of the types of jobs you want to do like work with computers or be in human resources. You can always drill into something more specific like software programming or recruiting later.

In case you need a little help figuring out what direction you want to go with your career, that’s okay. Even the most career focused and driven people you know have spent time contemplating what is they want to do and have questioned if they are on the right path.

Talk with trusted mentors, friends, or colleagues if you need some help brainstorming what might be a good fit of a job for where you are in your career. Here are a couple of highly regarded books that you can use as starting point for a little extra guidance as well.

For the sake of a job search, pick a couple of types of jobs that fit well with your skills and what you enjoy doing. Remember – it is not set in stone. Mentally, it is at least helpful to have a target to aim towards.

As they say, begin with the end in mind.

Reframe Your Experience and Accomplishments
Now that you have a game plan of what you want to do, you are going to need to be able to sell this to potential employers. Even if you are switching companies to do the exact same job, they are going to want to understand your background and experience and how this will help them.

If you have an older resume, that can be a great place to start. But, if you cannot find one. No problem. Just write out your current and former jobs.

With each job, write down the things you did that you are most proud of and the things that people complimented you on the most. Try to avoid writing out tasks or job responsibilities and focus on what you did that was beyond just showing up to work.

What you write down is now the basis for bullet points on your resume. These things will showcase what you bring to the table. Plus when you focus on what you are most proud of, it will resonate more with potential employers.

Now you need to be able to equate what you did in other jobs and tie in how that would be helpful in the type of jobs you are looking to work in. For example, if you are looking to work in marketing and your background is in customer service, you can focus on your understanding of customers what messaging resonates with them or what causes them to buy or ask for refunds.

Basically, you are practicing how to make a connection between your previous experience and how that will benefit your future employer when you are in job. This will cause you to have a better resume and be more confident and prepared in an interview.

Channel Into Your Network
It can be normal to think that if we are applying for jobs as an individual that we should just go into the job search process alone. The reality is mores doors will open and a lot faster when they are opened by someone who has access to the inside.

Simply put, your contacts (friends, family members, colleagues, acquaintances) collectively know more people than you do by yourself. Some of these people are willing to help you. They just need to know that you need their help.

Check to see if you have any contacts who either work in a company, industry, or type of job you are looking to get into. Dig deeper than just the people you work with or speak to most often. Those people will tend to have knowledge of the same opportunities that you do.

Often times the best door openers are often friends of friends or former colleagues who you have’t spoken with in awhile. Social media tools like Facebook and LinkedIn are great for figuring out commonalities between your more immediate contacts and the contacts they know who might open doors.

Can it be awkward, and even scary to approach people asking them for introductions. Here is one way you can ask without coming across as pushy.

“I am looking at the possibility of working in [company or field], and in LinkedIn (or whatever method you figured out a connection), I noticed that you had a connection with [name of person]. I would like to find out more about what it is like to [work at company or in type of job] to see if it truly is something that fits with my career goals. Would you be able to introduce him/her to me?”

People like to help other people, especially if it is not a big commitment. At this point, you would truly just be looking for possible connections to get you more information, which is more likely to get a positive response than flat out asking for a job.

Ideally, you would get an introduction either through email, phone call, or face-to-face meeting. If not, the second best option would be to get your acquaintance’s permission to reach out to their connection and mention your acquaintance’s name as a mutual connection.

Here is how you can approach this.

“Hi [name]. My name is [your name], and I have heard great things about [company/job classification]. It turns out that we both know/have worked with [your acquaintance’s name]. Do you mind speaking with me more about what it is like to work at [company/job classification]?”

People love talking about themselves, especially to people with a genuine desire to learn from them and who have a common connection. Listen with a genuine desire to learn, and you will know have a new contact, who is likely going to be willing to help you in your job search.

In conclusion, a little bit investment in time on the front end is going to make your job search easier and get you closer to your dream job in less time.


Last updated : August 7 2014