Focus and Speed
The Key to an Effective Job Search
by Tom Washington
The key to an effective job search is focus and speed. With focus all of the time and energy you expend gets you closer to your goal. With the proper focus your efforts are laser sharp, enabling you to make things happen quickly.
Focus: Employers like people with focus and they avoid people without focus. The branch manager of a savings and loan once asked a young applicant why he was interested in the position. His response, “Because it’s available.” An applicant interviewing with a large manufacturer was asked what types of positions he was interested in. His response, “What have you got?” Neither of these people were offered jobs.
Possessing focus does not mean you’ve reduced your career choice down to one narrow field or job title. Employers just want to sense that you have direction, that you know where you want to go. The bank manager was not expecting that the young man had wanted to join a savings and loan since age 12. The young man, having been invited to an interview, however, should have researched the industry.
When you’re focused you make things happen. Take the time now, if necessary, to establish your focus, then gain sufficient knowledge of your desired fields.
Speed: Once you achieve focus, speed is essential. The most successful job seekers know what they need to do and do it. They have a plan and they carry it out quickly. They also derive great satisfaction from checking off items in the job search that they have completed.
Here’s my list of things to get done quickly. Keep in mind that some of the following 17 activities may be inappropriate for the type of job search you are conducting. If so skip them.
Seventeen steps to a new job:
1. Define your job/career objective.
2. Research your desired industries and learn the jargon.
3. Create your initial resume, using Resume Empower as a guide. Be sure to include your accomplishments and results. Doing so will set you apart from at least 80% of your competitors.
4. Create your key word/plain-text resume so recruiters can find you on the employment websites like Hot Jobs, as well as company websites you send your resume to.
5. Post your resume to 4-6 employment websites and visit them weekly or every other week. Post to those sites that seem appropriate for you. Specialists in certain fields get the best results from specialized websites. For example, people in the information technology field often use Dice because it is dedicated to IT positions. Studies indicate that only 5-9% of all jobs are being obtained by using the thousands employment websites. This could indicate that job seekers should devote no more than 10% of job hunting time to these sites. Due to security issues and the fact that one never knows how long the jobs have been posted (it’s often months), many job seekers are getting excellent results in their job search without using such job sites at all. Some post only to websites of organizations they are interested in working for.
6. Explore the Web and identify another 4-6 websites that provide useful articles on careers, interviewing, and job finding that you will visit frequently.
7. Develop answers to at least 60 of the 101 most difficult and most commonly asked interview questions as found in Interview Power: (http://www.careerempowering.com/interview-power/questions-to-be-prepared-for.html) The next eight chapters in Interview Power provide the secrets for answering those 101 questions. You can access each of those chapters through this website.
8. Develop an overall strategy for your job search. Then create a weekly plan and follow it, but build in flexibility.
9. Determine what days of the week and what time of the day works best for you to carry out certain tasks such as calling employers and asking for brief appointments. As a result, you’ll maintain a higher energy level and you’ll achieve excellent results.
10. If it’s appropriate for you to contact employment agencies, temporary agencies, or recruiters, identify who they are and complete the contact within three weeks.
11. Conduct practice interviews and hone your skills and confidence. Practice backing up your claims with concise, well told stories from your work and non-work experience.
12. Develop a list of 50-250 prime employers. There are resources available at libraries and online that will make this step fairly quick and easy. If your library system has Reference USA, an online databases with extensive information on 14 million US businesses and organizations, use it to the fullest.
13. Identify the 50-100 people you know who know the most people or who know people in your desired field.
14. Give those people your resume, tell them what you’re looking for, and show them your list of your top 100 employers. Ask if they know anyone who works for any of these employers. Follow up and then report back to the people who gave you names.
15. When given names of people, call these contacts of your friends and relatives and learn more about their organizations, including whether they are growing and are good organizations to work for.
16. Develop a marketing letter (http://www.careerempowering.com/resume-empower/marketing-letters.html) to send to hiring authorities and create a script for calling those folks and asking for fifteen minutes of their time.
17. Make calls to determine who has the power to hire you in your desired organizations. Set up appointments and sell yourself, even if there is no suitable position at the moment.
If you’re unemployed and you devote 30-35 hours per week to job hunting, you can complete all or most of these 17 steps within three weeks. Once you’ve laid this foundation, good things will begin happening.
Although I’m encouraging you to move with focus and speed, these things do take time. For example, even if you applied online today for a job that perfectly matched your background, it could still take two or three weeks before they call you and another week before the interview actually takes place. The interview process, consisting of one or more interviews can take several weeks. Build a solid foundation first, take care of all the steps, and you’ll find yourself in that next job sooner than you expected.