We have so much to juggle – family, friends, work, self-care – it can be hard to fit everything in. In order to make the best use of your precious time in job search, consider these seven questions to target your networking efforts and submissions to get results faster.
1. What are my key strengths?
Those who know their strengths can more easily identify opportunities that play to those strengths and talk about themselves confidently in interviews. Consider making a list of the things you do that give you energy or record the details of your proudest accomplishments to start to see what strengths appear.
You could even post a poll on Facebook or ask friends and colleagues what they see as your key strengths. The book StrengthsFinder 2.0 is a great resource that I use with clients to determine their top five strengths. Knowing your strengths will help you target the right roles.
2. What work environment best suits me?
Open work spaces, catered meals, foosball tables – these office perks may sound great, but are they right for you? Will a mid-day video game competition rev you up for a productive afternoon or end up occupying the rest of your day? Does the hum of an active office invigorate or distract you? Catered lunches and stocked kitchens can sometimes be an indicator of long days (and nights) at the office. Consider what environment best suits you and your preferred work style before consider for your next role.
3. Which companies should I target?
Are there companies in your area with great reputations or products and services you’d be excited to stand behind? Create a list of companies for whom you’d like to work and set out to get noticed. This is part of a proactive job search. Instead of waiting for an opportunity take the initiative to set up meetings with people at your target companies. That way, when a position does come up, you’re one of the first people they think of.
4. Who can help?
Make a list of people who would happily help you with your job search. Remember to think beyond co-workers and former colleagues. You are more than your job title, so explore all areas of your life while making this list. Start by contacting those who you can easily reach and tell them what you’re looking for in your next role. You’ll want to ask, not only about job opportunities, but also for introductions to others in the industry or at your target companies. This is an easy first step in using and expanding your network to find your next role.
5. How am I creating balance?
When searching for a job, it is important to present the best version of yourself. That means focusing on things that keep you happy and healthy, not just on search related activities. Be sure to carve out time for dinner with friends, a trip to the gym or a weekend getaway. A little distance from your search may be just what you need to come back refreshed and with a new perspective. Let go of the idea that your sole focus must be looking at job boards.
6. What are my non-negotiables?
Consider your top priorities in your job search. Do you need to have a commute that is 20 minutes or less? Make at least $70,000? Work for a female-led firm? Write down your wish list (like employers do with the job description!) and circle the things that are must-haves for you in your next job. This will allow you to focus on opportunities that can deliver what you need. A friend of mine recently shared that she needs a great team, a high salary and challenging work. She won’t consider a role that doesn’t give her two of these three criteria. What items are on your list?
7. How do I measure success?
I’m always amazed when people tell me that they have done nothing in their job search and then, in the next breath, share how they have exchanged emails with former colleagues who would love to hire them or went to dinner with friends only to discover one is a recruiter at a well-regarded company. Those are absolutely job search related activities!
Start your own tally that includes not only jobs you’ve applied for, but people you’ve reached out to, new connections you’ve made, networking events you’ve attended and companies you’d like to work for. This will ensure that you can see the progress you’re making and measure results beyond job applications and interviews.
There are so many ways to waste time in a job search and most of them occur because of an unfocused search or lack of strategy. Use these seven questions to create a clear criteria around what jobs would be right for you and how to get in front of the right people.
Alyson Garrido is passionate about helping people advance their careers and find jobs they will enjoy. As a career coach, she partners with her clients to identify their strengths and create a path toward a more fulfilling career. Learn more at www.alysongarrido.com.
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