Speed Up Your Job Search with a 3 Week Plan
Come on, job seekers! If you are not organized and prepared for your search, then your odds of success diminish dramatically. That means: You’ll miss a follow-up opportunity, you’ll forget to apply to a job you saw, you’ll fail at sending a thank you note in a timely manner, or worse, you’ll blow an interview. Only the most focused, committed, active, and organized job seekers are winning jobs today.
You get organized for other things – projects at work, homework or tests in college, and logistics for a vacation – right? Why is the job search any different?
I’ve met hundreds of job seekers, and the first thing I ask each one is, “Where is your plan and job search tracking system?” Whether it’s on paper or in the computer, if they can’t demonstrate being organized to search, I don’t believe they are truly committed. The smartest thing you can do in your job search is to treat the hunt for work as a project.
There are only a few organization tools you need, but I prefer Microsoft Office since the calendar, e-mail, contacts, and documents are all integrated. It can reside on your PC or your mobile device, and documents and files can be shared with others. Most of you have it and are only using about 10% of the functionality you already own!
A 21-Day Calendar Plan – and a Calendar Tool You Will Follow.
My assumption is that you want a job sooner rather than later. The only way to get from here to there is to master the discipline around time management for your job search.
If your goal is to have a job in 2 months, then it is really important to complete the steps in your 21-day program to get you on the right path.
Plan what you will do with each hour every day, in one-hour increments. This way, you will have plenty of variety with your activities, stay focused, and make huge progress with each hour. Some of the key activities by week should be:
Week One: Preparing to Job Search
Note: Do NOT apply to any jobs during this week!
- Set your goal. Research the types of industries, companies, and functions you want to look for and write everything down.
- Refresh and improve your résumé.
- Build your job tracking tool where you will capture every move you make!
- IF you find job postings you want to apply for, log them on your job tracking tool and begin researching each company. Do not apply yet.
- Send out formal networking e-mails to key contacts, communicating your specific job search goals.
Week Two: Preparing to Apply to Jobs
- Identify and print out 6 job descriptions you want to apply to. Do NOT apply yet.
- For each one, put the job description next to your résumé and assess the skills and experiences you have that match with those called out in the job specifications. Write them down.
- For each job, write a cover letter that will sit on top of your résumé in the same Word/PDF file. Write the letter as if you are talking directly to the hiring manager and avoid the use of “I” too many times. The sole purpose of this cover letter is to say, “Mr./Ms. Hiring Manager, you are looking for these skills and experiences, and this is why I’m the best candidate for your position.”
- Take another look at your résumé and determine if you need to tailor it to each job. Often, when we read a job description, we remember skills and experiences we have that have not been called out in the résumé. Add those and remove any content that is not relevant to the required skills and experiences.
- Meet with key networking contacts; attend networking meetings, job fairs, and industry events.
Week 3: Applying and Tracking Every Move for Follow Up
- Proof all your documents and correct any typos and grammatical errors. Trick: read them out loud.
- Apply and log the date of each application in your job tracking tool.
- Put a new date in your calendar to follow up on each opportunity.
- Send thank you notes to all contacts you have made, either by phone, at a meeting, or at a networking event. If you applied to a position that someone made you aware of, send them a special thank you and keep them updated on your progress.
Many career coaches say “job search is a full-time job” but not everybody has 40 hours a week free to search. Based on the time you do have – no, the time you MAKE – you need to schedule it and follow a program.