Creating a Job Search Plan and Strategy

For some people, the loss of employment becomes completely debilitating as well as demoralizing. Consider the fact that most people spend the greater portion of their time during the day functioning in the workplace, it is easy to start associating our personal self-identity with our work and career.

When the paradigm shifts, however, and suddenly that major part of our lives is no longer there, a person experiences grief, sadness, despair, loss of self-esteem, and yes, even sometimes panic. Given the uncertain economic times, there’s even more to fear about what it is going to take to survive, let alone bolster our feelings of isolation and depression.

The key to overcoming these strong and sometimes overpowering emotions is to draw up a job search plan and strategy which focuses that energy into being productive. This will be designed to actively engage oneself in the types of activities that will provide the most opportunity to strike upon that one contact that could become a job prospect.

Develop a plan that is something that you feel is truly do-able. You know your limitations and motivation levels – write down a reasonable list of things you plan to do on a weekly basis that will help get you out, networking and meeting people to connect to prospective employers and learn about new job postings.

The key is that you want to be engaged in the search actively; sitting at home in bed with the covers pulled over your head isn’t going to bring you a job offer on a silver platter. A mentor once told me that looking for a job is a full-time job unto itself, so you are going to have to put some legwork into your efforts in order reap the rewards!

Start the process by listing out the specific goals you’d like to accomplish weekly. This could include (as an example):

1) Develop a list of the top companies you are interested in; do your due diligence by researching them thoroughly on the Internet to find out key information about that company and people you might want to talk to
2) Cold call five people on that list this week on that list and request an informational interview
3) Call five friends and ask them if they know of anyone that you could talk to in those companies or in your career field to request an informational interview
4) Attend three networking events; make sure you get some business cards made up that you can hand out as a way of reaching you; résumés handed out at networking events is generally frowned upon
5) Apply for five jobs in the field you are qualified/interested in

The above list is a pretty demanding job search plan for one week- you can tailor-make it to fit your own style.

If you think about it, however, in one month, you would have had hopefully 20 informational interviews, contacted 20 friends (who can turn out to be job search advocates) to engage them in your job search, attended 12 networking events, and applied for 20 positions. That’s pretty impressive!

It seems like a lot once you summarize it, but if you make each one of the points above an objective for a day, it won’t seem so burdensome. You’ll feel that you have a plan of work to focus on, and have results to show for it, too!

Another thing you might also consider when developing a job search plan is to communicate it to a friend who will be able to keep you accountable. Let them know your goals, and plan to re-connect at the end of the week. Having someone that you need to report to will also provide structure and focus that otherwise might be lost while grappling with job search emotions.

Keeping a positive, upbeat attitude, maintaining contact with professionals that you know, and networking with new people will put fresh energy into your job search. So get out of the house, and get going- there’s a whole world of opportunity out there just waiting to be discovered!