Most people complain that their job search has been excessively prolonged. The average or mean time that a person is looking for work is meaningless to a job search, giving merely statistical information. The fact is that in today’s economic job market, people are having a hard time finding what they want because of the tough competition between many for very few openings.
One of the reasons for such lengthy job searches is that most job seekers simply don’t know how to go about it and don’t know how to be effective at it. This is understandable because in the past, they had jobs, so they never had to focus on job search, plus finding a job used to be simpler, much different, and quicker.
Another reason is that most people in transition have no defined plan of action. Can you imagine a military activity that is not well defined and thoroughly drilled before the action begins? And what are the chances of a business’s success short of having in place and managing well a sensible budget? An old business adage says, “If you can’t measure it, you can’t manage it.” Another is, “If you don’t know where you’re going, you’ll never get there.” The latter is so true for those in transition. You must have a plan of action that is both written out and monitored at least weekly. That way, you can achieve two important things: Close monitoring of your job search progress and, once having achieved your objective, feeling accomplished and good about yourself.
Some people approach the creation of a business plan for job search in a simplistic way; others develop a sophisticated, complex spreadsheet similar to a budget, whereby they track progress, compare actual outcomes versus the original plan, and develop corrective actions for the future. Such spreadsheets may be just too much for some job seekers. Clearly, however, there needs to be at least a plan with a goal in mind. I recommend a stretch goal for both motivation and quicker results. To develop such a plan is not difficult: Divide your future months in segments of weeks. If you use a spreadsheet, you’d create headings for the time spent on activities you want to perform each week—for example, the number of hours you want to devote to education and learning about job search, the number of hours to devote to the researching of target companies, hours for doing job-search-related administrative work, hours for making phone calls, and hours for one-to-one meetings with others. Other things you might want to track via headings are the results of a direct mail campaign, applications submitted for advertised positions, research of prospects in the hidden job market, and participation in various job search networking groups.
Once the plan has been put together, you might want to review it and compare your actual weekly activities with those written into the plan. Such a plan is a living document: you can make adjustments and changes as you see fit. And when you’ve met a plan objective, find a way to reward yourself. That would be a good motivator to keep going and to keep using your plan. Remember Pavlov? Good luck.