Last Updated on April 8, 2016
Job hunting, especially if you really need a job right away, can be very stressful. One of the mistakes that’s easy to make is to rush in (especially if you are desperate) and end up in a job that ultimately disappoints. To help avoid that, it’s a good idea to take a moment (and a few deep breaths) and define your goals before job hunting.
How do you do that? Let’s take a look at how to identify your goals, and how to specify them.
Networking is a key component to preparing for your job search. If you’ve ever heard it said that it’s not what you know but who, then you’ve heard a reference to networking. Although you may know about the importance of networking, you might not know where to begin, or how to go about it. Sources say that it’s best to begin with those who you know, and who are fairly close to you. That takes a great deal of pressure off, and helps you begin your networking on familiar ground. Also, close acquaintances and friends can be honest with you about your approach.
You also need an online presence. It’s a good idea to join social networking sites and to set up a blog or website. This makes you accessible to anyone who might want to look into what you do a bit further. It’s an easy reference to tell people your site’s address, too.
Prepare Yourself Mentally
When you think of preparing for a job search, you may visualize gathering paperwork and making lists. While these are components of preparing to look for a job, it’s important not to neglect the mental and emotional preparation that is also necessary. Here are some tips for getting ready mentally and emotionally for your job search.
Go ahead and anticipate some of the questions the interviewer will ask, or that you think he or she will ask. If possible, find out from others what kinds of questions tend to be asked at this company, and find out as much as you can about the company. You can determine their values and goals, and figure out much of what they are looking for in an employee.
When you rehearse, you might want to do so before a mirror. This helps you prepare your mind for the interview, and understand how you are perceived by others.
Visualizing yourself in a successful position with the company helps get your mind ready for success. Get a good mental picture of what your position will look like. Visualize interactions with co-workers in the hall; imagine the smell of the office and the sound of typing on your computer; imagine talking to a satisfied client or customer on the phone.
Mentally visualize the sensory experience of the job you want, whether you’re applying for a job as a waitperson or executive. It’s said that positive visualization actually enhances your chances of success.
Proactive, Not Reactive
Another component of the goal-setting mindset is to be proactive. If you wait for an employer to advertise his or her need for help, you may be waiting a while. Some sources suggest that the majority of job openings are not ever advertised to the public.
So a proactive approach is to search out the company or employer for whom you want to work rather than waiting for them to search for you. Get your mind in a proactive stance and get ready to search for employers that fit your criteria and will help you further your career goals, and contact them.
Now that you have the proper mindset, let’s look at some specific goals to help you on your way.
What Are Your Skills and Experience?
Take an honest look at your skills. Let this be an exercise that is not influenced by what you think an employer would want; you’re not filling out an application or writing a resume yet. This is intended for you to really see what you’re good at – write down anything you are able to do, from childcare to cooking, writing to data entry. There are no “right” skills here. You may even surprise yourself!
Now you can take a look at what experience you have. It doesn’t have to be job-related; raising a family, helping with community service, or organizing a church event are all relevant experiences. Write down a list of these experiences.
Now connect your skills with your experiences. You might see career ideas opening up that you hadn’t thought of. Is one of your skills cooking? Do you have experience preparing food for a community event? Maybe you could be a meal coordinator for a facility like a hospital or nursing home, or maybe you want to open a restaurant. Make connections between your skills and experience, and you will be well on your way toward defining your career goals and job hunting accordingly.
While most people acknowledge that it’s important to be organized for an interview, it’s easy to overlook the importance of getting organized before you even get to the interview point. Taking an organized approach can help you stay focused and reduces wasted time and energy. Here are some suggestions and tips for getting organized before your job search begins.
– Create a Spreadsheet
If you prefer to do this on paper or on a different type of software, that’s fine, too. The point is to keep a record of where, when, and how you applied to various jobs. On this spreadsheet, you can include slots for the following information:
- Company/prospective employer name and contact information
- Hiring manager’s name and contact information
- Date you applied
- How you applied (online, by mail, etc.)
- Position name/title
- Follow-up date
- Impressions of the company (this can be your personal opinion and impression of the company, or something unique about them to help jog your memory)
- Requirements for the position
- Anything else that will help you stay organized, such as driving directions, building description, etc.
– Manage Your Resumes
As you apply for various jobs, you will be tweaking and fine-tuning your resume to fit that position – you’ll want to emphasize your skills that are relevant to that job. That can mean you can end up with several different versions of your resume.
To help handle this large number of files, consider setting up folders in your word processing software to keep them straight. Depending on how many different jobs you’re applying for, create a folder for each job field or each prospective employer. If you are applying strictly for sales jobs, for instance, then you might want to organize your folders by prospective employer. If you are applying for various jobs with different skill sets, such as a marketing, editor, and secretary, you could organize your resumes by job type.
Email inboxes can get cluttered fast. Before you start your job search, get your email set up to handle the correspondence between you and your prospective employers. Create a general folder for correspondence relating to your job search, and nest subfolders under this heading that are named for particular companies or job types. Don’t forget to label and file outgoing emails as well.
As you prepare yourself beforehand, you can save yourself a lot of trouble and streamline the job search process. Hopefully, you will increase your chances of success, too.
Tips for a Successful Job Search in a Recession
Searching for a job tends to be stressful no matter what the economy is like. But during a recession, it can be nerve-racking. The competition is stiff, and there are no guarantees of success. Even without guarantees, though, there are some things you can do to increase your chances of success. There are still companies, businesses, and individuals who need employees. Here are some tips for a successful job search in a recession.
– Expand Your Horizons
This may seem like vague advice, but apply it to various areas and you’ll see its benefit. For instance, expand your definition of a “good” job, and open your mind to possibilities like temporary jobs and online work. Even freelancing is something you can consider if you start to expand your horizons a little bit. Before beginning your job search, take some time to expand your thinking box – or, even better, think outside of it! So approach things with an open mind.
– Be Willing to Settle (to an extent)
You may be a very intelligent person who would love a job that challenges your intellect, but during tough economic times it doesn’t always pay to be picky. Remember, you can take a less-than-ideal job and still keep up your search for that perfect job. At the same time, you don’t want to apply for a job that is so out of your league that you won’t perform well at it.
– Why Do They Want You?
Also known as “selling yourself,” figuring out why a company would want to hire you helps you get a grip on your strengths. You have something to offer a company, and it’s important to lay hold of what that is. A good business relationship meets the needs of both parties – your need for a job is met and the company’s need for an employee is met. So think through what you specifically can offer. Your unique experiences and outlooks can bring a fresh appeal to an interviewer who may be tired of the “same old strengths” that everyone touts (like being a “team player”).
Building on the point above, make lists of your strengths and weaknesses, and take this a step further. List not only what these strengths and weaknesses are, but how you will talk about them during an interview.
For instance, maybe one of your strengths is making people feel comfortable. Write this on your list, then make notes about how that particular skill applies to this job you’re applying for. Note how you’ll talk about it and what you’ll say. The same goes for weaknesses – if you are asked about these, cite examples of how you overcame that weakness in the past, or ways that you work with or around that weakness.
There are thousands of job sites (job boards) on the Web. Below we listed the top ten resources for you to get started. Be sure you also examine niche job sites (by industry or location) and the company career centers of employers that interest you.
- Simply Hired
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