Has there been a freeway, bridge or major construction where someone wakes one morning and thinks:
“That would be a good idea, I’ll build a bridge! Fred? Hand me a steel pylon!”
No major decisions should ever be contemplated without a plan.
Many jobseekers make the mistake of failing to plan. They ride on a wave, spill from job-to-job, make the same mistakes and never rise through the ranks or get where they want to go. Like a wide-eyed infant, jobseekers totter, hands outstretched, falling into the first job that presents itself; in love with the idea of being wanted rather than analysing the strategy of their circumstances and goals.
So how does a job search plan work? Start by writing the who, how, where, when and why of your job search.
- Why am I considering changing jobs? Is it because I don’t like the people, the role, or the pay? Are the hours too long or do I foresee financial difficulties in the company’s future? Am I in a dead-end job?
- What will be my next strategic career move?
- Where do I see myself headed in the next two years? Do I want to stay in the same industry, do I want to transition to a new industry? Do I want to be one step up the rung higher than I am now, or more?
- How do I get to where I want to go? Will I need training, more experience? Will I need to get to know a certain person or group of people who can help me make that happen?
- When should I start to make things happen for myself? Could it be when I have finished my current studies and I’m on a firmer footing? Or, I should start looking into training courses immediately?
- Who would be the best person who could advise or mentor me? Is there someone who knows the ropes, or someone who could introduce me to people in my desired industry? Who is that person?
This is the beginning of your job marketing plan.
Next write down a new heading “What Do I Offer?” Under that heading list your “hard” skills. Hard skills are talents you have that are specific to your job. For instance Sales and Marketing Campaign Management may be a skill you have, or Channel Distribution, or Process Re-engineering.
Underneath, write a new heading “What skills do I need for my next career move?”
Research the next job you explored in the first section of your job search plan. What skills do you need to do the job well? Compare what you offer to what you need. What are you missing?
Use the information you have just learned to create your next section.
“Skills I am missing and need to have”
List how you could acquire those skills to reach your goal. Does it mean you have to do more training? Or get more experience? Consider: can I acquire that experience and training with my current employer? If so, would it be a better strategy to remain in my role and make it known that I would like to be extended through training or more responsibility? If this is not possible, where do I have to go to acquire this experience? Would an interim job that exposes me to a new industry or tasks be a better strategic move? Could an overseas assignment provide me with the leg-up necessary to span several rungs on the ladder?
By now, your plan should be taking shape. Review it. You will see some clear ideas emerging about where you want to work, the type of environment that allows you to thrive, and actions you will need to take to achieve your goals.
Later, you will need to plan who will create your job search documents (resume, cover letter, biography, website, Linkedin profile and more). Are your skills rusty or will you need interview coaching? Will you benefit through involvement in social media sites like Twitter, Facebook and more? Consider what will work for you. Do the research. Ask the experts. Form an understanding of what is expected for the industry and type of job you seek next.
This job search plan will be your career blueprint—a living document that provides a tactical plan for your career and lifestyle.
Don’t ask Fred to “Pass the pylon!” The bridge to a long-term career is careful planning and analysis and it’s an infinitely better strategy than allowing luck and circumstance drive your decisions and your success.