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Building a Sturdy Job Search

From the ground, it’s a mess: big piles of dirt, assorted construction vehicles, dumpsters, tools, workers in neon vests standing in small groups or walking leisurely from one spot to another. If you’ve ever seen a big building in its earliest construction stages, you know what I’m talking about!

But from my home on the 10th floor, it’s like a ballet. From my bird’s-eye view, I can see how the construction vehicles move purposefully from one spot to another and how they complete a task with contributions from men on the ground (those apparently aimless workers) as well as the true master operating the machine with pinpoint precision. Even the site itself, so messy from ground level, is well organized and relatively tidy.

And thus it is – or should be – with your job search.

If you don’t have a grand plan, you’re likely to be busy but unproductive: rushing about “doing stuff,” but not necessarily working with a purpose for the greatest chance of success.

To make your job search more of a ballet, less of a mess, start with a strategy and then work the details.

Identify Your Goal

The more precise you can be about what you’re looking for, the easier it will be to determine the best path and the most productive steps.

Don’t be afraid that being specific will limit your options! I think you’ll find just the opposite to be true. Your clarity and purpose will help others see you as you want to be seen, and that in turn will open more opportunities for you. When you try to be everything to everyone, that “muddiness” obscures your uniqueness and your value.

Create a Plan — Execute the Plan — Track the Results

Create action items that you can check off as completed. Establish performance measurements to hold yourself accountable. Understand that the road to your next job is probably not a straight line – you’ll need to weave together many different activities as you progress.

For example, on any given day, you might be:

  • Contacting a prior colleague
  • Researching a company in preparation for an upcoming interview
  • Applying to a position online
  • Writing a 30-60-90 day plan for third-interview presentation
  • Fielding a phone call from a recruiter
  • Polishing your interview shoes
  • Updating your LinkedIn profile with a link to a recent blog article
  • Compiling a list of fellow alumni at a target company

All of those day-to-day, ground-level actions might seem random or unfocused to those who don’t have the advantage of a strategic perspective. But if you are working from a master plan, all of your disparate activities have a purpose and a contribution.

Review … Modify … Repeat

Your job search strategy is not static. What happens each day will affect future activities and may cause you to alter your path. Spend time each week reviewing and modifying your plan so that you are ready to move forward with new direction and fresh energy.

Just as a building rises from bare ground, your purposeful actions will create a sturdy structure that supports your career goals.

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