Looking for employment is often a frustrating experience. Now I’m pretty sure that comes as no revelation to most readers. While there are still a fortunate minority who find work with a single job application and interview, for the vast majority, it is a time-consuming process of raised expectations and frustrating disappointments.
I recently heard it expressed that for every $10,000.00 you expect to earn, plan on a month of job searching. That equation may or may not be your personal reality, but you’ll be making a mistake to think that without a plan you’ll have no problem finding a job. There’s another saying, “Those who fail to plan, plan to fail.” Unfortunately for many, the only planning they do is to say they plan to get a job!
Momentum is vital in a job search because it can sustain you through periods of disappointment and frustration. Without a plan, any job seeker might just succumb to the recurring lows, not being able to really see viable progress being made. Build momentum however, and you can see movement from where you were to where you want to be at times when you otherwise might doubt you are making any progress.
First it’s necessary to know what your specific goal is. “Get a job – any job”, is not a goal I would typically recommend. On the other hand if you know you want a job such as an Investment Commodities Broker, Industrial Welder or Cemetery Groundskeeper, you can develop a plan of action for whichever of the above is your job of choice. The plan to go from where you are to each of the above three jobs however, would be very distinct from the other two. Hence just saying you are looking for a job is too vague and impossible to plan for.
For the job you do settle on, know the qualification requirements, objectively determine how you currently stack up against the skill, education and experience needs the position demands. Wherever you find yourself lacking, instead of counting on your charm to worm your way into the job, look at those key areas you’ve identified where you are weak and then investigate or research what your options are to gain what you lack.
Missing a degree or diploma? Look up the potential schools that offer the education required, and then get registered, take out a student loan to pay for the course and you’ll be taking the necessary steps to build the momentum you need. If it’s a licence you need and not years of school, research the cost, the providers, what books are available to train with and book the licencing test after preparing yourself.
A workable plan will make you feel good about yourself. You may be sitting down for three days on the couch reading up on your licencing needs, taking pre-tests in preparation for the exam to get that licence. While observers would say, “Why aren’t you out getting a job?”, you’ll know the truth of the matter, and you’ll confidently know the movement you are creating toward your goal of licence first, fully qualified to apply second.
There are resumes to make, cover letters to write, research into companies and people to undertake, mock interviews to arrange, conversations to plan and engage in, questions to plan answers for. And these are just the obvious things you need to do. You might have to also arrange childcare, ensure you’ve got minutes on your phone, update your interview clothing and do some shopping, maybe invest in some repairs on the car you own, set aside money for transportation etc.
Without proper planning, there are too many things that can go wrong and you then run the risk of raising your stress level by having to scramble and divert your focus. So the day before an interview, instead of reassuring yourself, you might find the car won’t turn over, you realize you never did get around to replacing your pants with the stain on them that won’t come out, and so you scramble.
Another good idea is to create a, ‘to-do’ list built around what you need to do in order to eliminate the barriers you have at present keeping you from your end goal. Put this list in writing and put it where you’ll see it every day – out in the open not in a folder. That list will both remind you what needs doing, and as you check off the actions you’ve taken, you can reassure yourself in the low moments that you’re further ahead then you once were and the gap is narrowing to your desired goal.
Self-doubt and beating yourself up for making no progress is harder to do if you are looking right at a piece of paper that has some boxes with a check mark in each for the things you have completed. Working a plan also helps you make a logical order of the things to do. No point really writing the cover letter if you are in a 9 month training program and have no specific job to apply to just yet for example. And if you’re planning on dropping 20 pounds, don’t go interview clothes shopping today only to find when the time comes those new clothes slide right off your waist!
Developing a plan is a skill you can get help with. Employment Counsellors, Job Coaches, Mentors and Career Advisors are well-trained to assist with. All the best out there!