Job Search Checklist #3: Get a plan

Jul 31 2012 in Featured, Job Search Strategy, reCareered Blog by Phil Rosenberg

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Do you have a written job search project plan? For almost every single job seeker, the answer is no.

Most of us just wing it, have part of a plan or have a loose plan-like thingy in our heads.

If it feels like your job search isn’t going the way you’d planned … maybe it’s because you haven’t planned it at all. Instead, you’re bouncing aimlessly from one job search rock to another, trying to steer your career without a rudder or paddles.

Even people who spend their career planning don’t have a decent plan for their job search. This includes you sales managers, marketers, finance professionals, financial planners, strategic planners, community planners, real estate planners, project managers and IT managers.

Even certified Project Managers (PMP) don’t use their specialty to plan their own job search.

Before you all pile on claiming you’ve got a job search project plan, recognize that a job search plan is more than a target list, a marketing plan, a contact list or a to do list. A job search plan is much like you plan sales, finance or projects … take your goal (finding your next job), working backwards to the daily activities needed to meet your goals, plus also a target list, marketing plan, contact list and to do list. It’s not stored loosely in your head, just like you wouldn’t store a project plan for your work in your head.

In all my years of helping people find jobs, I’ve come across one single solitary candidate who had a written job search project plan. That’s it … just one.

So what’s the plan, Stan?

I don’t think people plan to fail (by failing to plan) on purpose. Instead, I figure there are a couple basic reasons so few candidates plan their job search.

  1. You didn’t think you needed a formal plan: This is probably because in your last job search, you didn’t need a formal plan. The last time you searched for a job, there was a shortage of candidates, not jobs. There were enough opportunities, that your job search could afford to be a little aimless and random. Because there was so much low hanging fruit, you figured you were bound to find a job in a reasonable time, even without a plan.
  2. Remember, from post WW II until 2007, there was a shortage of skilled candidates, so there was plenty of low hanging fruit, even during recessions (sure there was less low hanging fruit during recessions, but there was still some waiting to be picked). When there were candidate shortages, you could search randomly, make all kinds of mistakes, and still find success. Basically, if you had the basic skills needed for your job choice, you just had to show up a few times and you’d find something.

    Then came the game of musical chairs that started in 2007 …

    Now that there’s a job shortage today, random job search depends too much on luck in a market with lousy odds. Your chances of success in today’s job market can be improved by planning and focus.

  3. You don’t know how to create a job search plan: Because traditional job search methods teach a random approach, assuming candidate shortages and low hanging fruit, you were probably never taught how to create a job search plan.
  4. But what about all you planning professionals? Why aren’t any of you creating a job search project plan?

    The concept of a job search plan isn’t all that different from other types of business planning. The biggest challenge for most job seekers is that the metrics are different for job search compared to other types of planning. In addition, now that the job market has changed to job shortages, the metrics have changed since 2007. Once you figure out the metrics for your specific circumstances, your job search plan isn’t very different than other types of business project plans.

If your job search isn’t going as planned, your first step to changing your situation is to actually create a plan.

One way to tell if you need a job search plan – just answer this question. Without blaming the economy or the tough job market (hey, we all know both are bad), why isn’t your job search progressing as quickly as you’d like? If you don’t know the answer to why your job search isn’t working, you need a plan so you can see what’s working and what’s not.

So what would you rather do … blame the economy, the job market, employers, the government?

… Or learn how to take control of your own job search?


Want to do more than just complain about a bad economy?

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Author: Phil Rosenberg

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