Q&A: Creating a Solid Job Search Plan and Sticking to It

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If you’re tired of your job, it’s probably time to move on, but you might worry you won’t be able to find a new job that compensates you as well as or better than your current one. Doubts and fear of the unknown can paralyze you during a job search, but if you do your research and plan carefully, you can tackle it with confidence. It is crucial to create a plan and follow it when you start hunting for a new job. Don’t be afraid to ask for help from professionals—for example, it’s always a wise move to hire a resume-writing expert

Let’s look at some common questions about the job search and how to plan it.

Question 1: Where do I start?

As you launch your search, define your expectations for the new job. Write down what you want from it, be that in terms of salary, working hours, or work environment. However, try not to be too idealistic—the perfect job doesn’t exist. Consider what aspects are most important to you and which you can compromise on. It’s important to figure these things out from the get-go. If you’re too picky, you’ll never find a job you’re happy with.

Writing down your goals helps you stay motivated and on track. If you’re having trouble defining your expectations, think about your current job. What do you like and dislike about it? Use your answers to create your list. You probably won’t find a job with all the benefits you want, so you should rank them in order of importance.

Question 2: How much time should I spend looking for a job?

There’s no one-size-fits-all answer to this question—it depends on how desperate you are to switch jobs. If you’re trying to leave your current occupation as soon as possible, dedicate a few hours daily to researching and applying for new jobs. This will also provide a layer of psychological protection against the feeling of being stuck in your current position since you know you’re putting considerable effort into getting out. 

If you’re currently unemployed, spend about eight hours a day searching—if you don’t have a job, looking for a job is your job. However, don’t just submit your resume to every single vacancy you come across. Research each opportunity to see if it meets the goals you’ve established. Applying for every job you see with a generic resume is a recipe for failure.

Part of the job search involves knowing the best time to submit your resume. If you spend your evenings researching the jobs you would like to apply for, use the mornings after to send in your resume. Thus, hiring managers will be more likely to see it quickly. It would be nice to think that recruiters would still look at your resume if it were submitted on the weekend, but it’s much easier for it to get lost among the hundreds of other messages that pour in during off-time.

Question 3: How can I make my resume stand out?

You should always be looking for ways to improve your resume. Since it is your master key to any career opportunity, it’s not something you can neglect. The first thing you should do is align your resume with the goals you’ve set. If your skills aren’t up to snuff, do what you can to beef it up in other areas. 

Next, consider using the skills you do have in another capacity. Say you previously worked as a legal office assistant. Maybe you can expand your skills by working as a medical office assistant. Don’t shut yourself off from viable new opportunities. Just make sure you tailor your resume to each position, tweaking the language and even the content to suit the employer’s requirements.

Finally, use keywords in your resume to get past applicant tracking systems. These robotic hiring assistants screen resumes before letting them into human hands, automatically disqualifying applications that seem unsuitable. Find keywords in the job posting (they’ll generally be bolded, italicized, underlined, or otherwise distinct) and use them in your resume.

If you work with a professional resume writer, you won’t have to worry about these details. Hiring an expert is easily the best way to ensure your resume shines.

Question 4: How can I expand my network?

It’s easy to stop actively networking if you’ve been on the same job for years, but now that you’re looking to switch, making new connections can be invaluable. You can expand your network in several ways. 

First, ask your family, friends, or neighbors if they know of any companies that are hiring. This would be considered an old-fashioned networking system, but it’s effective. If there’s an opening at a friend’s or family member’s company, consider whether it would be a fit for you because a recommendation from a current employee can make a huge difference.

Next, create a LinkedIn account if you don’t already have one. Getting your profile out there for thousands of employers to see will help expand your network. Don’t worry, you can adjust your settings so your current employer can’t see your profile. The advantage of LinkedIn is that it exposes you to companies across a wide geographic range, which is helpful if you’re willing to relocate or looking for remote work.

Finally, you can begin to build relationships with companies you want to work for by supporting them in your personal life through buying their product or using their service. Expanding your network begins with building strong relationships with companies and showing your loyalty to them. Unless it’s a tiny business, the higher-ups won’t take notice of your patronage, but identifying yourself as a loyal and knowledgeable customer will help you during the interview. It can also give you a sense of the company’s values and culture before you even submit your resume.

Question 5: How do I know if I should switch jobs?

There’s no easy way to know whether this is the right move for you, but there are signs that will clue you in to the fact that it’s time to move on. 

First, test the waters. Before you just up and quit your current job, see what companies are interested in you and maybe find some freelance work that relates to the job you’re after. This can inform you whether your plan is viable.

Also, assess your financial situation. Can you afford to switch jobs? Money isn’t everything, but you need to support yourself (and maybe your family) somehow. If your finances aren’t solid, look into other ways to prepare yourself for a future career shift.

Most importantly, seek advice. Find a trusted mentor or friend to ask for help. Getting sound advice can help you process this life-altering move from a different perspective. Never rush a decision like this—lean on the people in your life to help you make an informed choice. 

You’ll always have questions and doubts when looking for a new job. Research and ask around to get your answers. Don’t let fear stop you from achieving your dream—create a plan and stick to it! If you’re feeling overwhelmed, seek guidance from our job search experts.

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