Job Search Plan (Pt. 2) – Preparation

When looking for work, most people use the “Pray and Spray” job search approach. Their search begins with logging onto an employment website, looking through job listings and firing off a bunch of resumes. The odds of this working are slightly better than their odds of winning the Lottery are. It’s a “numbers game” approach that simply does not work in today’s job market.

Think about it this way, if you posted a “Help Wanted” ad for a forklift driver, how many resumes would you get? A few dozen or a few hundred? How many would you actually look through?

Proverbs 29:18 says, “Where there is no vision, the people perish”. It is my belief that this scripture should also apply to your job search. Your job-searchunting can either be a crap shoot. It is a carefully organized and implemented plan of action. There will always be competition but, if your job search is built on a solid foundation, there are some very specific steps that will help you succeed. We discussed the first step in part one of this series, Now we will discuss the second step. The planning stage.

When looking for work, most people use the “Pray and Spray” job search approach. On a “good-day”, they spend about 45-minutes scanning the Internet for job leads and they will apply for 10-12 of the jobs they find. The problem with this, is that statistically, it takes about 500 hours to find a new job. unless something changes, their “job search” is going to last about 2-years. Most people can’t wait this long and they either give up, or they “settle”, for a dead-end job.

We’ve put together this “Job Search Plan” because we don’t want your search to end this way. Searching for work should not be tricky and it should not be complicated. This plan is a simple, easy to follow, step-by-step plan that is based on hourly, daily and weekly goals. We provide the plan. You set the goals. It is your job search and your results will be determined by the amount of effort and energy that you invest. All we ask is that you remember Houston Forklift Safety if you need a forklift license or if your company is hiring. Good luck.

Job Search Plan

Step 1 – Be clear about what kind of job you are looking for
Even though you might “just need a job”, it is important that you know WHAT kind of job you are looking for. If not, you’ll end up sending your resume to anyone and everyone. This rarely, if ever works because Employers are looking for people who are targeted and focused. People who know what they want (or who at least seem to know). It is important to determine your long-term and short-term career goals. The purpose of the long-term goals is to determine what you want to do when you “grow up”. Now that you know what it is that you want to do, it is time to figure out what industry (or industries) you should work in and what type of jobs you need to apply for. Don’t apply for the right job with the wrong company and, unless it helps you accomplish your long-term goals, don’t take the wrong job with the right company.
*Please note that some people find this step intimidating. It shouldn’t be. It is also okay to change or modify your long-term career goals. I’ve done it myself. In High School, I wanted to be the Lead Singer in a Rock band. It didn’t work out because I couldn’t carry a tune and lessons didn’t help. I didn’t give up (still singing in the shower), but I did make a new plan. (Trust me, the world is a better place).

Step 2 – What are your qualifications?
Now that you know what you want to do; the industry (or industries) you are interested in and; which companies are in that industry; it is time to determine why they should hire you. Most people don’t realize how important this step is and, because of this, they don’t spend enough time on this step. I strongly urge you to take your time and to get this part right. It will help you when writing a cover letter, when making a resume, during interviews and when looking for jobs. I would also recommend that you carry a note pad because there will be times when you remember something that needs to be added to this list. It is a “living list” that, between now and the time you start your next job (and also after), you should refer to often.

a) Start with your accomplishments and awards: Building your brand begins with tracking your past accomplishments and awards. They are the foundation of your career brand and it is a list of your “wins”. These may include a medal or ribbon you received in school; a big sale that you closed; a problem that you helped solved; a goal that you accomplished; etc. Take a few minutes and write down every accomplishment (even those that don’t seem relevant).

b) Inventory your strengths and skills: To develop a true (and authentic) career brand, you have to understand what your most important strengths and skills are. What secret talents do you have? What have you learned? What are you really good at? What skills, strengths and talents will set you apart from other applicants.

c) List your education and training: Your education, training, degrees and certifications can help to play an important role in building your career brand. Examining each of these elements could also help you to recognize if there is any additional education or training that you need.

d) List your volunteer work: I was surprised to learn that applicants who volunteer have a huge advantage over applicants who don’t. The reasons were apparent. The main ones are that you’ll meet new people (perhaps a potential employer); you learn new skills; you’ll be helping others; and it can help to fill “gaps” in your resume. This is the one time that it is “okay” to brag about yourself.

e) List your hobbies: Knowing your hobbies can help to identify the things you really enjoy and can also help to uncover “hidden” job skills. Sports you play (bowling, softball, etc.) are good hobbies to mention. Pokemon Go, watching TV and pulling all-nighters are not.

f) Prepare your list: The next step is to look at each item on your list and to break it down into “real-world” skills.  in the section. You are going to break it down and identify the things that employers are looking for. For instance, have you ever coached a Youth Football team? What skills were needed? Did you have to be organized? Did you learn about “conflict resolution? How many kids did you “supervise”? Would an employer find any of these “skills” useful? What other “skills” do you have?

Step 3 – Get your “tools” sorted out 
So you know what you are looking for, and you know what you have to offer. Now is the time to get your ‘tools’ for the job search process ready. Find the latest version of your resume and update it. Make sure that it focuses on your accomplishments and not necessarily on what your responsibilities were. For example, instead of saying, Warehouse worker, say:

  • Received orders and unloaded packages from the truck and stored them properly in the warehouse.
  • Maintained a clean work environment, and kept tools and equipment used for unloading and loading goods in their assigned places.
  • Held responsibility for quality control of products and goods stored in the warehouse and made sure that they were not damaged.
  • Maintained accurate records of the materials received and transported out of the warehouse; submitted records to the senior manager.
  • Documented and managed the inventory control system in the computer placed in the warehouse using scanners and bar code readers.
  • Conducted routines checks on arriving shipments against their bills of lading and invoices.
  • Prepared receipts  for customers receiving goods as required legally.

See the difference?

Step 4 – Do your research 
Most people underestimate the importance of researching to see what jobs are available where to find specific jobs. Believe it or not, for every job you see, there were 3-4 you did not see. They were either posted on another website or the job was given to someone’s friend. The question is, “How do you find out about these jobs”? By hanging out with people in these fields and having conversations (networking). Perhaps you know someone who knows someone. Ask them to introduce you. This type of networking is invaluable because the employer may know this person and you’ll have someone to bounce ideas off of once you get the job. It can also help to build your knowledge of the field (for possible future interviews).

Step 5 – Decide how much time you want to spend on a daily and weekly basis 
Most people talk about ‘finding time’ to look for work. Really? I should probably just stop here because, to be honest, finding a job is not really a priority if “finding time” to look for work is a struggle. My experience is that time can’t be ‘found’, but that it can be ‘made’. This is probably a good time to remind you about the 500-hour rule. Decide how many weeks you can afford to be unemployed; and then do the math. Now get out the calendar and ‘plan’ your job search schedule.

Step 6 – Set yourself goals on a weekly basis 
In addition to defining how much time you are going to spend (looking for work), it is also a good idea to set tangible goals. I realize that the ultimate goal is to get a job, but that is not something you can control. You can, however, control how many job listings you will look at; how many resumes you will send out; how much networking you will do; how many phone calls you will make; etc. This will help you gauge your progress; stay motivated and focused; and keep your job search on track. Remember that you may be out of work but that you have a job. Your job is finding a job. I’m pretty certain that your friends will understand.

Step 7 – Practice your interview techniques 
Don’t leave getting ready for interviews for the last minute. Even if it’s downloading a list of ‘most typical interview questions’, reading through them and thinking about your response. Ask people in your network to do mock interviews. You’ll need to be comfortable during an interview  and you’ll be asked all types of questions. Be prepared and remember that the time counts toward your 500-hours.

Step 8 – Let the people who are close to you help you 
Most of us feel we have to do things ourselves and we’re not very good at asking for help. Yet most successful people say the secret to their success is hard work and utilizing the resources (such as people) around them. There are several ways that your friends and relatives can help. For example, they can encourage and support; they can introduce you to people; they can help you look for jobs; they can reach out to their friends; and they are an extra set of eyes that might see a “help wanted” sign on the side of the road. In other words, the more people who know you are looking for work, the better your chances of finding a job.

it’s tempting to give up when a plan but, the most successful people, are the ones who make the plan and follow it. They don’t scrap their plans if they aren’t working; they revise them! So put together a plan, amend it (if you must), but stick to it! It is a good plan and it is a plan that works.

Next – Resume Errors