How To Build Job Search Momentum

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!





A Job Search Checklist

As an Employment Counsellor, I spend every single work day surrounded by people who are either out of work entirely, or only working a few hours here and there part-time and are looking for jobs with more hours, higher income or closer to their homes etc. I have tremendous enthusiasm and a high personal investment in helping as many people reach their goal of finding employment. However, the one person who should want someone to find a job even more than me is the person themselves.

You might think that this would be the case with every single job seeker, but you’d be wrong. When you work with people day after day who are looking for work, you can quickly identify in a matter a seconds the most obvious people who don’t want it bad enough. But there are people who want to work badly and don’t know how to go about looking seriously and successfully for employment in 2014. And that got me thinking that maybe a list would be handy as a review of good job searching habits. This isn’t a complete list, but it includes some important, “Must Do’s”.

1. Commit To A Routine: Just as a job has set hours, you should devote blocks of time to your job search, because for now at least, looking for a job IS your job! Get up, shower, get dressed and get at it each day in an area you set aside as your job search base.

2. Know What You Want: With a clear idea of what job or field you would be happiest working in, you can avoid the trap of wasting time scanning ads and reading postings for jobs you can’t compete for or don’t really want. Stay focused on locating jobs you are qualified for.

3. Avoid Distractions: Putting in a load of laundry, watching television, ringing up friends, tidying up the kitchen, preparing meals, sunbathing, playing a video game; while you are at home there are distractions looming everywhere. Again, stay focused and put in the time necessary to succeed. If were at work, you couldn’t do any of these things, and your home is now your work location!

4. Identify Your Strengths: List on paper the skills you have and the things you can do that you’re good at. Don’t be modest be honest! These are the things you do well, that previous employers appreciated in you, recognized you for and co-workers appreciated.

5. Identify Your Values: What’s important to you? Again, list on paper the things which you value in a workplace. Some to consider are integrity, high quality customer service, friendly atmosphere, bottom-line profits, people-centered, etc. What’s important to you?

6. Target Your Resume: Employers will be most attracted to reading resumes that specifically address their needs. The more it addresses what they are looking for, the higher the likelihood you’ll get asked to an interview. The more general it is, the less likely you’ll get that invitation.

7. Update Your Clothing: Now may be the time to make sure you have suitable clothing for any upcoming interview. Don’t wait until you get the call asking you to come in tomorrow to realize you have nothing to wear. And if it takes 2 or 3 interviews, don’t wear the same things.

8. Get References: Same as above, don’t wait until you are at an interview and asked for 4 references to start thinking about who you could provide. Talk with past co-workers, supervisors, owners, managers, friends, former clients and customers. Get their full names and contact information now.

9. Use Cover Letters: A cover letter is read by 50% of employers. Because you can’t be sure whether it will be expected or not, write one. Introduce yourself and talk about the value you bring, why you’re a great fit, set up your resume and clearly ask for an interview.

10. Make An Appropriate Email: Avoid using email addresses that contain your birth year or age. If the computer rejects your chosen name and offers others with numbers, strongly consider revising your choice to use some combination of your full name only. Keep it professional.

11. Use Social Media: Sites such as LinkedIn, Facebook and, Twitter give you job postings, allow you to network online, and learn of openings. They also put you in contact with people who work at the companies you most want to work for. Use them and increase your odds.

12. Clean Up Your Online Presence: Employers do check social media websites trying to see the real you. You may be entirely qualified according to your resume but never get a call. Why? Maybe they searched your name, read or saw something that put them off, and you’ll never know how close you were to getting that interview, or more importantly why you didn’t.

13. Follow Up: Applying for a job is only the beginning. Make contact to ensure your resume has been received and express your enthusiasm for the job, going so far as to assertively ask for an interview. You want it bad right? Demonstrate you want the job!

14. Be Prepared For Rejection: For every person who gets a job, there will be many more who get rejected. It makes sense then to expect rejection during your job search. It’s normal and common so learn from it when it happens. Find out if you can why you came up short and what you can do to increase the odds next time.

15. Spelling And Grammar: Poor spelling and mistakes in grammar give the employer the impression you don’t care to proofread or don’t have the necessary education to know the difference.