Like buying a house, changing career or finding your next job is rarely a one-step process. There are principles to follow. But there is no single approach that works for everyone.
Use the 3 questions below to develop your personalized approach to your own career career change or job search.
Proceed with more confidence and less stress.
When you search for a house, it’s not likely to happen with your first viewing.
It goes more like this. You start with a wish list. You do some viewings.
No luck. But now you know more. Now you have more understanding of the market.
You gain insight that you don’t get if you limit your search to viewing online listings. This helps you narrow your search and adjust your priorities. Now you’re ready for more viewings. Sooner or later you find your house.
Like buying a house, changing career or job searching is rarely a one-step process. There are principles to follow, but is no single approach that will always work. Use the three questions below to develop an approach to job search and career change that is customized for your situation.
1. Where do I Start My Search?
You can save yourself a lot of stress by starting where you are today. Here’s how.
Choose the one-week appointment view in your online or paper calendar.
Fill in the time that is already committed for the week. Include all your activities. What do you do on a daily and weekly basis? Include all your regular activities: work hours, commuting and travel, work at home time, household activities, eating, self-care, exercise and leisure activities, family time, and sleeping.
Now look at what time slots remain.
Of the “free” time currently available, when will you allocate time to work on your career and job search?
Most people overestimate the time they have available.
They underestimate the time they need to work on their job search. This is a recipe for increased stress.
Don’t get stuck in a discouraging cycle of setting unrealistic goals and not achieving them. Instead, begin with a realistic view of what time you have available and what is possible in that time.
You may hear people saying that finding a job is a full-time job in itself. The reality is that it’s often not feasible to devote this amount of time to your career change and job search. But that doesn’t mean you won’t succeed.
It’s true that job search can be time-consuming. But start by working with the time you do have. It may mean you need to allow yourself a longer timeline. You may decide to adjust your schedule so that you have more time available for your search. If lack of time is an issue, you may choose to save time by hiring service providers. But once you are clear, you’ll be able to make more informed decisions about how to proceed.
2. Which Job Search Activities Should I Do First?
With a sound appraisal of your schedule, the next step is to think about how to make the most of the time you do have. Rather than jumping right in to do the first thing that comes to mind, take a few minutes to create an overall plan.
Choose an endpoint that makes sense for your situation. If you are currently employed, maybe your goal is to be in a new position this time next year. If you anticipate a restructuring in the next three months, then your goal is more urgent.
Next, work backwards from your selected date. List what needs to happen in order to secure your next position.
For example, whatever your industry, you need to:
- Know what you want and how to communicate my skills and abilities to potential employers.
- Understand the market and what employers are looking for.
- Connect with employers who need your skills.
- Demonstrate that you can meet employers’ needs.
Use these requirements to identify key milestones. This helps you choose where to focus first. You will be able to see which actions are dependent on each other. For example, if you haven’t taken the time to clarify what you want and what your skills are, your career communication will be less effective. You might waste a lot of time working on your resume without moving closer to your career goal.
This doesn’t mean that you have to wait until you feel 100% prepared. There is too much complexity involved for that. Expect to adjust your priorities as you go. But do the work necessary to get clear about what is most important to you in your next career so that you can move forward with more confidence.
3. How Long Will it Take To Achieve my Career Goals?
When you’re making changes in your career, you want to know how long it will take. It depends on your level, industry, employer type, company, country, and many other factors. According to one survey of hiring delays, published by Glassdoor, time to hire varies a lot. Trend data show longer interview processes. If you’re a research scientist or a professor, you can expect your interview to take 45-60 days.
It’s not easy to sustain a lengthy search. Hiring processes are designed to reduce employers’ risks of making a mistake. As a candidate, you don’t have much influence over how long things take. But you can control which activities you prioritize. Review what you are doing on a regular basis.
Go back to your career goal and your plan. Are you keeping a log of what you are doing and the results you are getting? Do you know how you are spending your time? Having objective data will help decide which changes to make. It’s easy to get distracted and spend too much time doing things that have less probability of moving you closer your next job.
For example, if you are limiting yourself to responding to advertised positions, adjust your plan to include other approaches. In your field, how important are referrals from existing employees? If one in five people in your target company are recruited through referrals from current employees, are you taking account of this in your search strategy? Do you have a target list of potential employers? Are you finding ways to connect with people in these organizations?
Whether you are looking for the right house or the right job, there is a lot to think about. Focus on what you can control. Do enough preparation to create a strong start. Don’t be afraid to adjust your plans as you gain more insight into the market. If you get stuck, revisit your support resources and get the help you need.
Career & Work Life Matters, ISSN 2150-6299, Vol 8, no. 2
About the Author
Jennifer Bradley, Ph.D. helps professionals lead their own careers, empowered with the information, tools, and resources that they need. She offers individual coaching and consulting, teaches classes, and publishes articles on career development and career transition.
If you’re new to my website, you might be interested some of the resources below.
Practical Tips for your Career Change and Job Search
Read articles published in Professional Career Journals