Job Search – Where Do I Start?

Highly organized individuals might have no problem at all managing their job search, from start to finish. If you’re not lucky enough to be one of them, you might consider the whole idea of a job search to be a major pain–almost worse than going to the dentist for a root canal!

The challenge begins with the “where do I start” question. You know you’re going to have to take several actions to reach the job search goal you have in mind–such as a particular job you’ve identified or a company you really want to work for, which is currently hiring. However, that only describes your situation in general terms, and “general” won’t cut it in the long run.

You can do a free-thought brainstorming session (by yourself or with a knowledgeable supporter) to flesh-out the key points for your job search. Let’s break down how that process might look.

Where Do I Start?

Logically, you’ll want to clarify what your near-term goal is: specific job or something else. If you have more than one possibility in mind, determine whether the alternatives are mutually exclusive (meaning that realistically you can only choose one) or could be combined in some way.

That near-term goal could also be part of your overall, longer-range career management plan. For now, though, the main objective is to identify your next, potentially reachable career destination.

Avoid getting bogged down in excessive detail–you can’t map out absolutely everything that might come up. Settle for a good grasp of the essentials, such as:

  1. What (kind of) position am I targeting? What kind of company or work environment?
  2. What time-frame do I need to work within? If it changes unexpectedly, what contingency plans will help me cope with that?
  3. What requirements does the target position involve? Am I missing anything important with regard to them?
  4. After I figure out how to start, what’s next? And do I need help?

Straight-Line Career Path…or Not

Your career path might look like a fairly straight line or it might more nearly resemble the progress of a sidewinder snake! Ideally, any jogs or plateaus you hit are either part of your career plan or something you can resolve through a fairly minor course-correction.

If you get stuck somewhere along the way in your job search and don’t see what your next move could or should be, that might be a good time to consult your mentor (if you have one) or other trusted resources you can count on to help steer you in the right direction.

Remember, too, that other people might sometimes have an agenda that conflicts with yours. Be prepared to make adjustments when you encounter roadblocks or even just small speed-bumps in your path that are caused by the actions of others.

When you’re tempted to pursue a jog in your career path, take a deep breath. Analyze why you’re considering it and what the most likely challenges would be. Sometimes a little quiet reflection on your part or a thoughtful conversation with your trusted advisor(s) can help you evaluate the overall desirability of that choice. The relatively small amount of time this takes could prove very worthwhile in terms of your ongoing career success.

Where do I start? Where do I want to end up? Those are key questions for a successful job search.

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