Ready, Set — Let’s Find Work

How to effectively prepare for the job search

greenlightbulbglobeIn the conclusion of our three-part career survival guide, we offer advice on how to conduct an effective job search.

Finding a job requires many of the same approaches it takes to manage your career: strategy, focus, clarity, insight, and networking. You’ve probably sent out dozens of résumés and created career profiles on Monster, CareerBuilder, and every employment Website in between. You’ve asked friends to be on the lookout for job openings and have even begun buying newspapers from other cities to look at their classifieds, too. You’ve done all there is to do, right? Not quite.

“It is imperative in the current global economy that you are known and recognized for something specific. Now more than ever, with more educated workers and a service-centered economy, without a brand, you could just as easily join the faceless millions posting their résumés on career sites,” says Veronica Conway, founder and president of Black Professional Coaches Alliance. “Focusing on your strengths is not a luxury. Get with the program and do what you are brilliant at. You will ultimately have the competitive advantage.”

The following is a checklist of strategies to amp up your search for the perfect job despite a tough market.

Determine what you’d like to do before you decide where you’d like to work. Most people panic at the idea of not being able to find work, so they focus on what jobs are available. “Most of us start our job search in exactly the wrong way by asking what’s available and not what our contribution is,” says Bob Rosner of Workplace911.com. Identifying your interests is much more closely aligned with your skills and talents and will help you focus on opportunities that suit them.

Conway suggests that her clients write down their ideal job description based on their innate strengths. “What would your new role look like and what would you be doing every day? For one of my clients, this meant writing proposals, business networking, negotiating contracts, and leading, not doing operations,” she says. “Focus on the 20% of what you do that creates 80% of the results. In a business, there are only two or three things that yield the best results. And as people in careers, we don’t focus on the critical few.”

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