How to Plan Your Job Search

How to Plan Your Job Search

How to Plan Your Job Search

If you're unemployed, you understand the stress of looking for a job. Planning your search will make the experience much more bearable, and it can save you some time and effort. To get through your employment search with greater ease, you should know how to make a clear, manageable, and effective plan.

No one likes searching for a new job. Polishing your resume, drafting cover letters, and preparing for interviews takes a long time, and it can be tempting to rush the process. The fastest way to find a job, though, is to plan each step in advance.

Think of your search as a full-time job in itself. After all, looking for a new job is a major endeavor. As with any large project, starting with a plan will help you succeed. You'll need to use your organizational and time-management skills to achieve the best results, and the time you take preparing will save you countless hours during the search.

How Planning Can Save Time and Effort

By beginning your search with a step-by-step, actionable plan, you'll feel more calm and collected as you go. Here are four tips for getting your plan in place.

1. Articulate your goals.

Getting a new job is an opportunity for a fresh start. Use this time to think about what you really want out of a career. Do you prefer interacting with a lot of people throughout the day, or would you prefer a job where you wouldn't have to be outgoing all the time? Would you prefer to work for a small business or a large company? What kind of work do you find the most rewarding? By outlining your professional goals, values, and priorities, you can start to narrow down your search.

2. Create a daily schedule.

Looking for a job is stressful, especially if you're currently unemployed. The uncertainty and doubt can weigh on your mind and sap your motivation. One of the best ways to manage that stress is to create a manageable schedule and stick to it. Instead of worrying about all the tasks on your to-do list, you can simply check your calendar and focus on whatever's on the schedule for that hour.

It may take a few days or even a few weeks to find the daily schedule that works best for you. Some people feel more productive in the morning; others like to schedule more tasks for the afternoon. Find the schedule that allows you to accomplish as much as possible without feeling overwhelmed.

3. Establish objectives and milestones.

Your ultimate goal is getting a job, but there are plenty of other milestones to celebrate along the way. Breaking down the search into smaller objectives helps the experience feel more manageable, and it gives you opportunities to look back on your hard work.

Your first milestone could be to update your resume. The next could be to overhaul your LinkedIn profile and clean up your other social media pages. You could also set time-based objectives, like sending in a certain number of applications per week. Each time you reach one of these goals, celebrate your success with a small reward.

4. List your resources.

Thanks to the internet, there are dozens if not hundreds of places to search for a job. While this is helpful for expanding your search, it also can lead to disorganization and confusion. Keeping track of your resources is critical for saving time and staying organized.

First, list every website you plan to use to apply for jobs. Then, make a list of everyone in your network who could offer you leads. Keep a log of every time you search a site or reach out to a contact. And, most importantly, keep track of each of your target companies and all of your submissions and communications with them.

How to Start Networking During Your Search

Networking is one of the most effective things you can do to shorten your job search. While many employers list their openings online, if all you do is submit your resume, you'll be competing with hundreds and maybe thousands of other applicants for each of those jobs. Having a direct link to a prospective employer is the best way to get your foot in the door. Your contact can vouch for you to the employer and can give you their honest opinion of the opportunity.

If you're inexperienced with networking, it may feel daunting. Here are three ways you can ease into networking and overcome your discomfort.

1. Use social media.

Social media are powerful networking tools because they help you get to know people before you even reach out to them. You can briefly scroll through their profiles to find talking points and then take your time crafting messages. LinkedIn is the most popular social platform for professional networking, but you can also use Facebook and Twitter to get to know people in your industry.

2. Use referrals to get informational interviews.

Instead of reaching out to a total stranger, use your existing contacts to meet new people. A mutual friend can help to ease the tension as you and your new contact get to know each other. The best reason to make new contacts in your industry, and especially in a target company, is to ask to set up an informational interview. These are short 20-minute meetings you can do on the phone or in person to get advice.

3. Keep it small.

Don't a approach a new networking exchange with massive goals or expectations. Instead, simply think of it as a chance to get to know interesting people. Keep your meetings brief and focused, and seek to make them pleasant for you and for your contact. Keep your interactions free of pressure. Eventually, you'll get information you can use to make yourself more competitive, and if you can win some trust, you may even get a direct referral for an opporutinity.

Looking for a job takes time, patience, and organization, but creating a plan will help you manage your time and stay on task. You don't have to feel overwhelmed by your search. By planning your actions in advance, you can keep a cool head until you get the perfect job offer.

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