5 Ways to Take Control of Your Job Search
by Brad McNally, Senior Editor
A job search is an extremely large undertaking. It is easy to let it get out of control and become overwhelming. Recently, a friend of mine was in a show (The Art of Acting Out) about a young man that works in a coffee shop, but wants to become an actor. In the opening scene, he is in the back of a cab and claims, “I’m not a passenger, I’m in charge.” This is exactly the attitude that you need to take with your job search to make sure that you are in control and that you stay in control. Here are five ways to stay in charge of your search.
You may be well aware that you need to find a job, but sometimes these things come up when you don’t expect them. Business closures, budget cuts, or changing life situations may lead to you seeking once again. Don’t wait to start though. Keep an eye out for jobs and be aware of what postings are open near you. Keep an updated resume and revise it regularly. The best time to be looking for your next job is while you still have your current one, not once you are in need.
2. Schedule it
If you don’t schedule yourself time to search for jobs, it either will be something you keep putting off or something that takes up all your time. Having a scheduled time does two things: it forces you to start looking at the time you decided and it also forces you not to spend all your time looking. Give yourself a set time every day to do your searching, such as first thing in the morning before you eat breakfast, or after dinner before you do anything else. Even if you use RSS feeds to automate gathering of listings, try to keep to your schedule for checking them.
3. Consult/Volunteer (and network)
If you can serve as a consultant in the field you are working in outside of your current work it can be a great way to get your name and information into the hands of those that will be hiring in the future. This can be paid or unpaid, and can be something that is a one-off activity (such as speaking about your field to the local rotary club) or a long term commitment (such as volunteering here at INALJ). These activities help establish you as an authority and builds experience. Every additional activity you take on can put you in contact with other professionals that can be helpful in your search. This is a proactive step toward your future career goals.
4. Be Ridiculously Organized
After applying for several positions, they can begin to run together. When you get to the interview preparation stage, how will you remember which posting had which information in it? By organizing all of your job search into a spreadsheet and keeping documents well labeled you will be able to go back and prepare better. This also allows you to compare information about two jobs or other variables (such as salary compared to cost of living). Include information about commute distance or the town you would relocate to, as this will aid you in decision making.
5. Follow through
Following through is the key to success here. Be sure to follow up with prospective employers after applying or interviewing. Traditional thank you cards or just a quick email are both acceptable in general, but reach out and gather more information along the way. With your organized spreadsheet, you can even include a column in each job to check off so that you know you sent your thank you notes or additional contacts.
A full time job is something that takes up a majority of your time and is vital to your livelihood. There is no reason to allow your job search to be something that is half-hearted or thrown together. Be deliberate in your searching. Don’t be a passenger in your own job search, or in your own life. Define what you want and take the steps needed to get there.