Career Development Part I – Productive Job Search

Old branch line in sandy to career

For some time now I have been working as a career advisor, and so I thought it was about time to do a few posts on the realm of career advice and job search. I won’t claim that the ideas and suggestions presented here are new or revolutionary in any way, but I will say that they can be useful and help you on your way back into a job, or onto the next step in your career.

I’ll cover some thoughts on how to have a productive job search process and/or a career development plan, the basics of your resume, your cover letter and the job interview, and I’ll do section on using social media and how it relates to job search, career and personal branding.

Productivity in Job Search

What kind of career you want will determine your job search. If it doesn’t, you might end up with a job you don’t really want, and in the worst case scenario, you won’t understand how it happened. Therefore, in order to achieve a high level of productivity in your hunt for your next job, it will help to understand the different between being effective and being efficient.

  • Being effective means doing the right things
  • Being efficient means doing things well

If you make sure you’re first working on the right acitivities, and then on doing those acitivities well, you’ve taken a step in a smart direction.

First off, figure out what you want to do. This is easy to say, and may be easy to do. However, there’s nothing wrong with taking some time into understanding some of the areas you want your career to revolve around, and not least, what this will give you. Meaning why you want to do this. How much you want to invest in your working career will also be influenced by  many factors in your life:

  • Are you ok with spending a lot of time working?
  • How do you value the balance of work and spare time?
  • Do you have a significant other, or maybe a family you need, and want to spend time with?
  • Is your career focus long-term or short-term? Or, do you have career goals that require certain parameters to be met now in order to succeed later on?
  • Where’s your motivational compass? Intrinsic or extrinsic (do you value what you do and what that gives you, or are you driven by money and fringe benefits).
  • Are you willing to take jobs that are not necessarily the dream job, if it takes you closer to where you want to be long-term?

What do you want to do?

Here’s a couple of simple exercises you can do that may help you to figure out your next step.

  1. Create a mind map with your various job positions (and other relevant experiences in case you don’t have that much work experience).
    1. Put the position in the middle, and start associating to that all the different tasks and responsibilities you had. Put in all that comes to mind. In my experience one on the obstacles people create for themselves is that they sell themselves short. Remember, even as a store clerk, you may have had experiences with handling money, customer service (both the nice ones and the not so nice ones), ordering goods that need restocking, solving problems that happen unexpectedly, and maybe you’ve had to work on your communication skills in order to help people understand (and understand them) what products they would find the most useful.
    2. Simply erase or cover the name of the position. What you’re left with is a range of knowledge, skills and abilities (KSAs), and tasks that you are capable of performing.
    3. Consider how these KSAs are transferable to other types of jobs, both directly and indirectly.
  1. Take a sheet of paper or use your computer. Create to columns. One for “did like” and one for “did not like”, and go through your work history (or your other experiences depending on your amount of experience). Start with your current (or last) job. Jot down all the things you like about that job. Afterwards, jot down all the things you didn’t like. You may want to have somebody help you with this, making sure you’ve really covered all the likes and dislikes. This seems almost too simple, but it is a task worthy of attention. Remember that we often take the time to think when things don’t work out the way we want them to, and forget this step when everythning’s fine and dandy.  But doesn’t it make sense to have an idea of want as well as what you don’t want? When you’re done you’ll have a clearer understanding of what you like, don’t like, and hence, what you ought to look for when checking out positions and companies that seem attractive to you.

When you’re done with these two exercises, hopefully you’re a few steps further on the road to figuring out what you want for your career and why. Having this information sets you up for a more productive process of career planning and job searching.

In addition, consider contacting a career advisor, mentor or a coach to help you in this process. Having someone else probe your mind with questions you might not have thought of yourself can be a great path to further your personal awareness.

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2 Responses to Career Development Part I – Productive Job Search
  1. […] covered some basics in career development and job search in part 1 and part 2. Before going into the practical side of your standard job searching tools, there’s an […]

  2. […] Career Development Part I – Productive Job Search […]

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