How to Create a Job Search Plan

You need to find a new job.  While you’ve already submitted some applications, you feel disorganized, and you’re afraid that it will take a long time.  What you need is a job search plan.  Here are some tips to help you develop your plan and stick with it:

Start with a goal.  What do you want to achieve?  What position are you targeting?  Where do you want to be one year from now?  How about three years from now?  Once you have a clearly defined goal, you can work backwards and identify the steps that you need to take to get there.  

Look at the requirements for your target position.  Now that you have a particular position in mind, it is a good idea to find at least five job advertisements for the position, and make a note of the requirements.  Are they asking for any skills or experiences that you don’t currently have?  If so, what can you do to get them? 

Have action activities for every day.  If you are not currently working, you should be treating your job search like a full time job.  If you don’t, it will take much longer for you to find a position.  Even if you are employed, you should still spend time every day on your job search.  However, keep in mind that just because you are busy, doesn’t mean that you are being productive.  Create action items for every day, as a part of your job search plan.  Make sure that every task that you do will bring you one step closer to your goal.   

Make sure that networking is a part of your career plan.  Since most positions are filled through word of mouth, it would be foolish not to include networking as a part of your job search plan.  Have a conversation with at least one person from your network each day.  Let them know that you are looking for work, and the type of position you are targeting.   You also need to spend time making new connections.  Look at networking groups and professional associations for potential networking opportunities.   Aim to attend at least one networking event per week.

Spend time every day on industry research.  It is important that you keep current on what is happening in your field.  When you know what is going on in your industry, you have a good idea of which companies may be hiring, and which may be downsizing.  Also, knowing about current trends allows you to identify potential opportunities, and it enables you to impress employers with your understanding of the industry, and your correct use of buzzwords.     

Make sure that your job search plan is a live document.  Don’t just create your job search plan and forget about it.  You need to be looking at your plan every day.  It should have goals with deadlines that you regularly review so that you stay on track.  Be flexible and make changes to your plan if your goals seems unrealistic.  Don’t give up on it; your plan will only work if you stick with it.

Be certain that your career goal is something that you actually want.  There are a variety of factors that determine the types of positions that we seek:  interest, passion, prestige, money, etc.  If you find yourself struggling to find the motivation to stick with your job search plan, revisit your career goal and ask yourself if it is something that you actually want.  If your career goal doesn’t get you excited, take a step back and find something that does.

A job search plan helps you to keep focused and stay on track.  Without one, you may find that even though you are working hard, you don’t achieve your desired results.  Make a plan and stick with it, and you will be surprised by how quickly you achieve your goals.

(Written by: Karen Bivand)



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