To create a successful job search, you need a solid job search plan. Having an idea of what industry you want to work in or what organization you want to work for helps, but fear not if you’re plagued with uncertainty. The five steps below can help you gather the information you need to prepare for your job search:
Rely on Your Strengths
You can take the Myers Briggs personality test or the Strengths Finder assessment to help better understand your strengths. You can also set aside time to reflect upon the activities in which you have been involved in that you found particularly rewarding or enjoyable. This type of reflection can help you identify aspects of activities that you naturally gravitate to and the skills that you enjoy using the most. For example, if you enjoy working with your family and friends to set up activities at church to serve others you may thrive in work environments that require teamwork and/or serving others. If you enjoy creating user guides with minimal interaction with others or developing computer code primarily on your own, you may want to look for work that permits independent work with limited input from others.
Reflect Upon Your Past
Any part-time job you’ve had in the past can also help inform your decision-making process. If you’re a recent graduate, you may want to consider internship experiences or other activities that you’ve been involved in and identify the activities that you enjoyed. Equally important is understanding which activities you disliked or those in which you struggled. Leveraging your strengths is often easier than overcoming your weaknesses. I’m not suggesting that you shouldn’t work to improve your weaknesses—I am simply suggesting that you consider leveraging your natural talents. Professional development can be extremely rewarding, even when you set out to develop in areas that you find challenging or those that are less appealing to you.
Engage Your Network
You network is one of the most valuable aspects of your professional life. Relationships should be nurtured and you should invest your time and effort to support and assist those in your network. This should be done on a regular basis. People need to know you, your work ethic and capabilities and the only way they can do this is through consistent meaningful engagement. Informational Interviews can also be a good source of information as you prepare for your job search. You may be able to ask members of your network to meet with you to gather their insight about openings in the job market. It also gives them the opportunity to learn more about you and ask questions so they can better understand your skills, interests and goals.
Gather Advice from Multiple Sources
If possible, you should attempt to gather insight from multiple sources. Alumni associations, LinkedIn and associations may be valuable sources of information. Try to narrow down your list of questions to ensure you are considerate of others’ time while you gather the information most important to your job search. Social media and websites such as Glassdoor and others may also help you as you prepare for your search. Be mindful of the source and ensure you are gathering information only from the most reputable places.
Learn by Volunteering
Giving back to your community is not only a tremendous help to others, it can also be a great way to help you better understand yourself and the type of work you enjoy. Do a web search and talk with your network to identify an organization that could benefit from your talents. As you spend time volunteering, reflect upon your time and identify the tasks that you enjoy and the circumstances that you work best in—paying close attention to the activities in which you seem to lose track of time.
Consider our Job Search Quick Start Course.