Three Steps to Building a Successful Job Search Plan
Looking for a job isn’t what it used to be. Today’s job search is an activity that requires organization, planning and scheduling. In fact, one of the most important building blocks of any job search is effective planning. The challenge is that while serious job searchers are committed to the job search, they often have trouble with the job search schedule and can’t get organized or find the time.
In order to execute a job search plan successfully, it is vital to commit to three actions:
- Block out a certain amount of time
- Complete a set of activities in the right order
- Track your progress every day
Block Out Time
This does not mean that you have to schedule time each and every day for job searching; do what is feasible in your life and current workload. However, it is important to commit to, and stick with, how much time you will spend on your job search. The more effort and time you can spend on job search will likely result in better outcomes faster!
Carve out specific blocks of time for job search activities and put them on your calendar. Whatever the commitment is, make appointments with yourself in your calendar. Whether you use online schedulers or a paper calendar, be sure you stick to your schedule.
Complete a Set of Activities
Specific activities are the heart of your job search. They include things like researching potential companies and submitting applications, and they have to be repeated over and over until you land that new job. The specific activities and their order include:
- Preparing to Job Search – This includes organizing your technology, job search tools, communication methods, and documents.
- Researching – You should be reading up on industry news, conducing internet or library searches, researching potential companies, and preparing for interviews.
- Networking – Find out if there are industry events or external meetings to attend, or groups you can join. Spend time on LinkedIn connecting with old colleagues or new ones.
- Applying or Cold Calling – Build and refine your network list, contact your network list via phone or e-mail, or send out ‘candidate packets.’
- Following Up – Be sure to follow up by sending thank you notes (via e-mail) or contact hiring managers. You actually need to follow up three times after making the initial contact.
- Rehearsing – Build and refine interview questions, draft scripts for phone calls, write draft e-mails before sending. Practice interviews by role playing.
For the best results, specify which activity you will do in a given hour and stay in that activity. When you schedule an hour or two–hour block don’t just say ‘job search.’ Pick a particular activity to focus on and write it down. For example, you might say, ‘build my professional network list’ or ‘update my LinkedIn profile.’ Then that’s what you do for that blocked off amount of time.
Track Your Progress
Regular tracking of job search activities reinforces that job search is your number one priority. It prevents wasting time and ensures effectiveness and efficiency. It will also help to accelerate the speed in which you get to the finish line, which is landing your new job.
Be comfortable with the type of calendar technology you use. Whatever you normally use for calendaring, use that for job search. Document every activity you do and what you need to do to follow up. For example, if you go to an evening network event where you’ve collecting business cards, you need to follow up with these contacts the next morning and that activity goes on the calendar. The calendar serves as a record of all the things you have done and all the things yet to do.
In summary, finding a new job should be treated like a job, which means committing to a schedule and completing the activities that make up a successful job search. By getting into a routine to conduct the job search steps of preparation, research, networking, and completing applications, you can avoid falling back in that old job search pattern of random tasks and frustration.