Taking Control Of Your Career Search

If your situation is anything like mine was when I was laid off, you feel like your life is in complete chaos. You have an incredible amount to do and you are not even sure where you should begin.

Need vs. Want

You should start by getting control of managing your job search efforts. The first thing this should entail is determining your “need to have a job” date and your “want to have a job” date.

Your “Need to Have a Job” date is the day you are out of money and out of options.  If you reach this date you should have a backup plan for what you are going to do. Your “Want to Have a Job” date should be the last you feel relatively secure. This may be when you have used up 60% of your finances or maybe when you have reached as low as 30%.

Determining these dates will help you to plan accordingly and help to ease the stress of your transition.

Plan Plan Plan

Having a plan in place is the best way to stay focused. A plan will help organize your thoughts and efforts to find a new job. This plan should be written down and managed in the same way you would manage any large project you previous employer had given you.

Set Goals

You will need to set specific goals with specific completion dates. Large goals should be broken down into sets of smaller goals, each with their own completion date.

When I first became unemployed one of my larger goals was to complete my Bachelors degree. There were a lot of steps I had to take to complete that final large goal and for each of those steps I created an individual smaller goal.

First, I had to determine how I was going to pay for my degree. My first choice was to apply for funding under the Trade Adjustment Act (TAA). I also had to work with the school to ensure that I had a proper class schedule that would allow me to work within the TAA’s requirements. I defined each of the steps as an individual goal and managed them as such. Setting realistic timelines and goals are a crucial to the success of your job search.

Schedule Your Time

You are unemployed. But that does not mean that you do not have a job. Right now your full time job is to find employment. Like every other job you have had, this job should be based off of a schedule.

This means that you should be putting in 40 hours of work every week toward your ultimate goal of being employed. You need to have tasks scheduled every day that move you toward the completion of the goals you have set.

Setting your goals to a work schedule will also help to determine when you are falling behind with your goals.

Create A Work Area

Just as important as scheduling your time is setting up an area for you to work on your job search activities. Setting up a specific work area will help to mentally reinforce the fact that what you are doing is as important as every other project you have been involved in for past employers. It creates a mindset of productivity and will help alleviate that “out of work” anxiety that every unemployed person feels.

Part of creating your work area will be to create forms and procedures that you will follow during your job search. These forms and procedures will help you organize your job search in a way that will be easy to maintain.

For example, you might set up a procedure that you will follow every time you find a company that is hiring a person for a job with your skill sets. This procedure could look something like this:

  1. Contact friends and family to see if you have any connections that you could use to help give you an edge in getting an interview.
  2. Contact members of any networks (online or offline) that you belong to and find out if there are any connections you can use within these groups to give you and edge.
  3. Determine the requirements for applying to this company. Do they want a cover letter? Do they specifically request no phone calls? Do they prefer resume’s to be dropped off in person or emailed?
  4. Research the hiring manager. This doesn’t mean you should become a stalker. Try and find out any means of contacting them such as phone numbers, extensions, fax numbers or email addresses.
  5. Research the company.
  6. Adjust your resume so that it focuses on the key points that this employer is looking for.
  7. Send in your resume.
  8. Place a follow up call a week after you submit your resume.

Creating these forms and procedures will help you to keep track of exactly what your status is with each company and person you interact with. Keeping accurate and detailed records will also give you an edge if a company decides to call you after you have been out of contact with them for several months. Imagine how impressive it would be to an interviewer if after talking to you several months ago, you can bring up something in particular that you had talked with them about in the previous interview.

Finding employment is your new job and it should be treated as such. Your job search should be organized like any other project you’ve had in the past. You need to create a plan of action, set achievable goals and create a schedule that will keep you focused on the task at hand.

About the Author

Rick Biederer is the owner and operator of

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  1. […] will need to take control of your unemployed state as soon as possible. This is going to require you to plan your path to employment. Setting and […]

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