Searching for a job or changing your career path is like taking on a new project. There are logical steps you can
take that will help you obtain optimal results (Eight-Step details below).
If you break down a job search into its most basic components, there are two fundamental things that must be accomplished:
1) get interviews, and 2) do well in those interviews. Granted, there are lots of things that go into making those two
things happen. However; if you keep your focus on those fundamental components, the rest will make a lot more sense.
If you don't know where you are going, any road will get you there."
- Lewis Carroll
So, where do you start? What career path would excite you? What are your options? Even if you think you want to continue
on your present career course, spending a little time in career planning is a good idea. You may find that you have
more options than originally thought. See Career Planning
to learn more.
Once you've settled on a career goal, what's next? That's where our eight-step job search process and flexible learning
paths come in.
First, it's important to recognize there is no "cookie cutter" approach that will work for all job hunters. People
have varied backgrounds, work in varied job markets, have varied job search experience, etc. To accommodate those differences,
our eight-step job search process incorporates flexible learning paths (see
Job Search Roadmap) that will help
you select and pursue a job search approach that will work best for your particular situation and career goals.
We recommend that you start by reviewing each of the eight steps covered below. This will give you a good overview
of what to expect as you progress through your job search. Then move on to the Job Search Roadmap which will show you
how each of the eight steps fits into one of three suggested learning paths. Each learning path is designed to be flexible
and easy to follow.
To help put your job search in perspective, see
Managing Your Search to help you monitor and track your job search progress. Various forms and
logs that facilitate more formalized tracking of your job search can be found under the /Forms/Downloads/Miscellaneous
To be successful in your job search, you must set a goal and then manage the important elements of your job search
project. As you review the elements below, consider them in the context of your chosen profession, industry segment,
experience and the like. Also, since no single approach will work best for everyone, be flexible and adjust as needed
to meet your particular needs. The important thing is that you carefully consider each of the elements and work through
the overall process.
As you examine the flexible learning paths and their respective components, it may be tempting to think that each
step or component requires a similar amount of focus during the course of your job search. While each component is important,
the level of focus varies substantially. As a general rule, allocate your search effort using a 20/20/60 guideline.
That is, 20% of your effort should be on researching and applying for jobs, and interview preparation, 20% on optimizing
your resume and online (social networking) profile and making them easy to find, and 60% on networking. The importance
of networking will become clearer as you continue reading and progress through the process.
Listed below are descriptions of the key elements or steps outlined in the above graphic. While they are generally
listed in a logical sequence, you will find that many of them can be managed at the same time or in a different order.
For example, preparing your personal inventory will help you as you network, however, that shouldn’t stop you from networking
prior to completion of the personal inventory process; especially if a really great networking opportunity presents
itself. You will also likely find yourself revisiting some of the steps as you learn more about your job market and
subsequently adjust your job search strategy. See the Job Search Roadmap for
details and links relevant to each of the eight steps.
The Eight Steps: A Step-by-Step Summary
Note: If using a mouse, click or hover over any of the large icons on the left to see a quick
Step 1: Take Inventory
Taking inventory refers to gaining a good understanding of what you have to offer potential employers.
This first step will help you later on when you prepare resumes and cover letters, and as you network and
go through job interviews. It will also help you understand what you're good at and what you would enjoy
doing in your professional life. We suggest you start with the eBook. We’ve also created a Skills Inventory
Form, Career Planning Worksheet and other resources to help with this step.
Your personal inventory should include items like personal skills that relate to the jobs you are applying
for, positive work traits or habits, competencies, job related experience, accomplishments you’re especially
proud of, educational achievements, and any past recognition you have received on the job. As you create
your inventory, think about the kinds of things a potential employer would be most interested in when seeking
qualified job applicants.
Step 2: Research and Plan
The research and planning step entails getting to know your job market and environment as it relates
to your overall career plan (see the eBook for more on career planning). As you define your job market,
you begin to get a clearer picture of how your previous efforts in developing a skills inventory fit into
the overall picture. Don’t be surprised if you return to the “take inventory” element at this point and
make some adjustments.
In this process, you’ll evaluate the status of your job market, set a search objective for yourself,
develop a strategy for your job search, define employer needs and identify industry trends. Use the Professional
Environment Inventory form found under the Forms/Job Search Forms menu to help you through this process.
Step 3: Prepare Resumes
You may have noticed that we said “resumes.” We use the plural because no single resume will work best
for all jobs you apply for. Even if you are applying for positions with the exact job title, each employer
will be looking for their own particular preferences regarding skills, industry experience, job knowledge,
Resume preparation is a critical part of the job search process. Among other things, it entails choosing
a format, e.g., chronological vs. functional, showing your accomplishments, making it concise and easy to
read, passing a “ten-second review,” and having a job-specific focus. See the eBook chapter on Resumes to
get started. You will also find sample resumes and templates to help you out.
Step 4: Write Cover Letters
As is the case with resumes, you will write more than one version of a cover letter. Your cover letters
need to be focused on the particular needs of the job and employer. In most cases, a quick review of the
job description or advertisement will tell you what areas to emphasize in your cover letters.
As you prepare cover letters, it can be helpful to review them with a friend or associate to be sure
they are clear and concise. Keep them short, focus on specific needs of the job, give them a “five-second
review,” and make them specific to the job title you are applying for. See the eBook chapter on Cover Letters.
There are also some samples and templates to get you started.
Step 5: Begin Networking and Execute Your Search
There is almost universal agreement that networking among friends, professional associates, social media
sites, etc. is one of the most important aspects of a successful job search. Indeed, many jobs are filled
through networking that are never posted on the Internet or other sources. Networking opens this hidden
job market and gives you an inside track on the latest job openings.
As you begin networking, explore all possible sources of contacts, be sure you provide them with your
resume, offer a personal business card, ask for referrals, and be sure you respect their time. Also, carefully
manage your "online persona." Networking should be done along with other on-going activities. The eBook,
Tools and Resources, and Training menus cover networking, including sources of network contacts, the use
of social networking sites and additional advice.
Step 6: Prep for Interviews
All of the previous steps are ultimately designed to get you to the job interview stage. A successful
interview depends largely upon how well you prepare in advance. Interview preparation and interviewing skills
are a key focus of Job Hunter Pro. After all, this is the step that determines whether you are selected
for a job over other candidates.
Interview preparation entails knowing what to expect, planning for contingencies, assuring you’re prepared
to make a good first impression, learning and understanding what we call the “Four P’s” (Perception, Prediction,
Preparation, Practice), using the Job Hunter Pro Interview Trainer, and practice, practice, practice. See
the eBook chapter on Interview Preparation to get started. It includes some additional tools as well.
Step 7: Interview for the Job
Good interview preparation leads to successful job interviews. That doesn’t mean you’ll always be selected
over other candidates. Sometimes, your competition will simply have more experience, better skills or the
right “chemistry” to get selected.
Good interviewing starts with preparation and practice, but also requires awareness and planning. You
must plan ahead to understand employer needs and likely interview questions. It's important to plan ahead,
present a positive first impression, demonstrate your interest in the job, avoid displays of nervousness
and show a professional demeanor. The eBook chapter on Interviewing will get you started. You’ll also find
useful tools, such as Frequently Asked Interview Questions, Common Interview Problems, Video Interview Tips
and more. The Interview Trainer includes a Mock (sample) Interview that will walk you through a job interview
Step 8: Negotiate
Eventually, a successful job interview will lead to a job offer. When a job offer is extended to you,
you may have an opportunity to negotiate some of the terms and conditions of your employment. It is important
to note, however, that negotiation isn’t always an option. In some cases, and for some jobs, negotiation
Part of negotiation strategy is knowing when negotiations are acceptable, and what is negotiable. Knowledge
of your profession and industry will help you understand what is acceptable in this area. You should consider
these factors prior to any negotiation, then set a negotiation strategy, be observant during negotiations,
and be sure that the negotiation process ends in a “win/win” situation for you and the employer. See the
Job Search eBook chapter on Negotiating for more information on setting a negotiation strategy.