Slicing Up the Job Search Activity Pie
By Fred Zarf
You’re involved in some of the most important work you’ll ever do – searching for that next position, one that provides the satisfaction, enjoyment, career progression, and salary/benefits you desire. Many job seekers jump in with a flurry of activity … and activity feels good. After all, that’s what we are all used to in our jobs: work activity that is purposeful, planned, and designed to accomplish specific goals.
A job search should be no different. You can fill your days with lots of activity, and that may feel good at first. However, not all activity will deliver the kinds of results you seek. Proportioning your allotted time around proven tactics and techniques, and having a formal project plan to keep you on track will shorten your search time and prevent you from engaging in time-intensive, yet less productive, activities. This approach will bring you closer … sooner … to the career step you seek.
So, how do you slice your job search activity pie? No two pies will be exactly alike. Yours needs to reflect where you are in your career, your goals, and your commitment to moving toward your next role.
One undisputed statistic: 70 to 80 percent of job seekers find their next position through some form of networking. Your plan should include a significant time allotment toward building an effective web of networking contacts who can provide key information and support.
Typical Job Search Pie Slices:
In-person networking – Attend professional meetings, job search accountability groups, personal interest meetings, and other activities and events. Ask former colleagues for a referral to someone they think you should know, and request informational interviews.
On-line networking – Expand your LinkedIn contact network, participate in industry groups, share and/or develop thought leadership pieces, and reconnect with your alumni association.
Target company and industry research – Use Google, Glassdoor and research databases like D&B Hoovers to get current on your industry and potential employers.
On-line searching and applications – Create efficiencies to reduce unproductive time or repetitive work. Set up job alerts and use job lead aggregator sites such as Indeed and niche sites for your specialty. Store your resume and other material for easy access to complete common application questions. Track your submissions on a spreadsheet with copies of the postings so you are ready for pop phone screens.
Search Firms – 10 percent or less of non-executive positions are filled by search firms, so don’t count them as 50 percent of your job search activity pie. Consider connecting with a few highly regarded recruiters but don’t wait for them to put you in a job.
Temp-to-perm and placement agencies – Many professional jobs are being filled by temp-to-perm or project assignments. Research these opportunities and stay open to viable assignments.
Learning – Stay current on relevant happenings in your field; build on or learn a new skill to increase your marketability.
“Me” time – Save a piece of the pie for you – build in time for family, friends, exercise, reflection, relaxation, and fun.
Having a plan that provides a foundation and direction for your search with the right-sized key activity pie slices will help you achieve your goal.