Are you one of those people who go on vacation by getting in the car and driving and then deciding where you are going? Not me. I need to know where we’re headed, what route we plan on taking, how long it should take to get there, and what we plan to do when we arrive. Personally, I don’t like to plan every minute, but I’m not enough of a free spirit to simply wing it.
If you like to figure things out as you go, I predict your job search will be difficult. While you need to be flexible and be able to follow up on leads and new ideas, you also need to have a sense of where you‘re headed. If you don’t know your target destination, you won’t be able tell people about it and they won’t be able to help you get there.
Let me suggest three techniques to help you achieve your dreams. You may have heard these before:
- Write them down,
- Tell someone else what you’ve written down, and
- Publicize your progress toward those goals.
These three techniques form the basis of your personal accountability and will greatly improve your likelihood of success. Writing down your goals forces you to clarify what might otherwise be disconnected thoughts. Sharing your goals with someone else will help you to own them. Then, telling others about your progress will garner you support and encouragement.
The other axiom that comes with goal setting and planning is – Plan the work and work the plan. An effective networking plan needs more than just a final goal. You need interim steps and measures to help keep you on track. Let me describe a level of activity that I encourage you to meet or exceed. Every week you should strive to:
- Identify 3-5 new target companies
- Have 5 networking meetings
- Contact 10 people to request networking meetings
- Read 3-5 blog posts and articles about job search (including this one)
- Read 1-2 articles about your field – stay fresh and current.
That sounds like a lot, doesn’t it? My consistent advice is that you need to make finding a job your full time job. Spending an hour or two a day looking for a job won’t cut it. Keep yourself in your traditional work disciplines – get up every day, get dressed, and go to work looking for a job. Take a break for lunch then get back at it. Work until late afternoon and then break for the day. I’ve written before about discipline, and there is no better way to practice or exhibit discipline that in how you conduct your job search every day.
The economy is growing, the jobs are out there, and you need to go get one. Work on your goals and your work plan, and then practice the disciplines that come with hard work. You’ll be rewarded with the job you were looking for.
If you want more advice on how to write a resume, how to, network or just how to find a job, check out I’m Fired?!? A Business Fable about the Challenges of Losing One Job and Finding Another. Click here for more details.
If you lost your job in the last 30-60 days, this may not be the post for you. About 30 years ago, my outplacement counselor gave me this rule of thumb and even as the economy has gone up and down, it still holds true. If you’re looking for a job, you should plan for your job search to take about 30 days for every $10,000 you want to earn in annual salary. If you want a $40,000 job, plan to look for 4 months – $60k = 6 months. That isn’t a law, it’s just an average and I’ve seen it repeat over and over. If you have an active network, it can go faster. If you’re starting from scratch or if you are in a particularly competitive field, maybe it will take longer. As I’ve said before, I’ve done this 7 times and it’s taken between 2 weeks and 13 months.
This post is directed to those in who are approaching or have passed that average. If you’ve been looking for months and months and are not having much luck, maybe you need to reconsider a few things. The popular press suggests that kids coming out of college today will change jobs every few years and will change careers 4-5 times before they retire. Those of us old enough to have children who are out of college find that hard to comprehend. I’ve been an HR guy for 30 years and I really can’t imagine doing anything else, but if I’m out of work for more than 6 months again, you can bet I will be thinking of what else I could be doing.
In the midst of an extended search is a great opportunity to be introspective. Who are you, and whom do you want to be when you grow up? Is there a passion in your life that is not being met? Is there an area where you can serve that will bring out something different in you? Would a little schooling help you to find a new spark and a new direction?
I’m not suggesting you abandon all hope and take a leap of faith into a new field, but I am suggesting that you open your mind to it. Network in a new direction. Volunteer where you can learn or use a different skill. Take a part time job that lets you explore a new industry.
You may find that you know who you are and you need to keep your career search on your original track. You may also discover a new energy, passion, and direction. Be open-minded. Let the search take you where it takes you. You just never know what you might find – or what might find you.
For more details about I’m Fired?!? A Business Fable about the Challenges of Losing One Job and Finding Another, click here.