A job search without a plan is pretty much like getting on a train at random. You could end up somewhere cool. (New York. Yeah!) Or someplace not. (Lawton, OK? Yuck!)
At least with a train ride, you’re guaranteed to get somewhere. With a job search, you could end up unemployed for a long time.
I recently worked with a client to help her plan her job search, and her results were spectacular. She lived in Virginia and wanted to move back to Taiwan, with a job offer waiting for her. Long-distance job searches can be tough, and she made it harder with a three month time limit. She made it with two weeks to spare! How?
We created a solid plan, and she followed it. A little luck didn’t hurt, but most of it was persistence and hard work. What was her plan?
You might think we started by having her update her resume and contact everyone she knew for informational interviews. Actually, I had her start a couple steps back from that, by creating her ideal job description. She thought I was crazy, but once she did it, she understood.
Many job seekers start without a clear idea of what they want. By creating an ideal job description, she knew exactly what she wanted and how to describe it to her network.
Job description completed, then she created a profile of her ideal company. Actually, she created two: one for a large company and one for a smaller agency. She was very specific, including revenue, corporate culture and location in Taipei.
Those descriptions gave her the information she needed to update her resume, so she worked on that while doing research on companies in Taiwan that seemed to match her ideal company profile and were likely to hire someone who fit her ideal job description. She created reports on the companies, including potential needs she could fill. All her information was gained from Internet searches. There’s a lot out there if you take the time to look.
How long did all that take? About 6 weeks. Yes, she spent 1/2 of her time in preparation. She reached out to no contacts and scheduled no informational interviews in that time. But by the time she was ready to reach out, she knew exactly what she wanted, who to contact and what to ask for.
Here’s where the luck kicked in. Her first informational interview impressed her contact so much that he forwarded her resume to the CEO of a small company. They asked her to interview, and they made her an offer after the second interview. By the way, they were not looking to fill a particular position at that time. They liked her so much that they are creating a position for her. Oh, and the company matches her ideal company profile in most ways.
Sound too good to be true? It really did happen, exactly the way I described it. Now, not everyone would see results so quickly, but my client devoted significant time to her search, while also maintaining two part-time jobs. She doesn’t have extensive work experience in her chosen field (social media marketing), so her resume wasn’t the most impressive ever. If she had applied for jobs online, her resume would probably have been tossed.
Her story highlights the importance of good planning. She decided on exactly what she wanted. We created two-week goals and milestones for each phase of the process. We knew what we wanted to happen and when, and basically it worked.
So how much planning have you done for your job search? Do you have an ideal job description and company profile? Do you know the exact companies you’re targeting and why? Without those pieces in place, your search will be random, unfocused and less likely to be successful.