Planning Your Job Search

A Call to Action

Now that you’ve mapped out your interests and goals, translated them into potential jobs and careers, created a resume, and contacted some references, it’s time to truly begin your job search. The key to a successful search is planning.

The following pages contain sample worksheets and lists to help you plan your job search. The action plan chart is a useful tool for making a list of tasks that will direct you toward your goal. Be sure to estimate the targeted date of accomplishment for each objective.

Another helpful way to chart your progress and stay focused is to log your activities as you locate potential job leads. You must combine your efforts so that research, networking, contacting employment agencies, answering ads, and writing letters of inquiry all play complementary roles in your search. Because studies indicate that as much as 60 percent of all jobs are found through networking, most of your efforts should center on this method. Knowing each step as you move through the job search process provides both momentum and a clear sense of what needs to be done. Start with an overall goal so you can prioritize your daily activities. In creating your action plan you should:

  • Create an overall action plan outlining everything you need to get the job you want
  • Check plans to see if they are in harmony with your goals for work, family, leisure, and self-growth
  • Revise your plan where needed
  • Write out all steps necessary to achieve your goal
  • Place steps in a sensible order
  • Make a schedule
  • Use a weekly action plan and highlight daily priorities
  • Evaluate weekly efforts and make adjustments as necessary

Planning Task List

Planning is an important function when taking on a new challenge. You’ll maintain control so that you can effectively manage the process. In order to plan well, you need to consider all the objectives necessary to achieve your goal. A task list helps you keep track of all that needs to be considered in developing an action plan. The tasks listed here are common to most job searches.

  • Budget money and time for your job search
  • Organize work area
  • Set up message center to receive incoming calls; if you’re using an answering machine or voice mail, make sure your recorded message is clear and sounds professional
  • Review self-assessment results
  • Write a “one-minute commercial” describing your skills and accomplishments; this is handy information to memorize so you can pull it out at a moment’s notice on the phone or in person.
  • Search for job postings
  • Answer advertisements
  • Attend professional organization meetings
  • Write letters of inquiry
  • Send targeted mailings
  • Attend community job search workshops
  • Do company research
  • Match skills to targeted companies
  • Make a phone list of contacts
  • Prepare networking interview questions
  • Consider informational interviews
  • Prepare presentations for networking
  • Write networking letters
  • Prepare answers to interview questions
  • Maintain contact records
  • Use employment and temporary agencies
  • Videotape some practice interviews
  • Analyze interviews
  • Write thank you notes

Questions You Might Ask When Evaluating Your Plan

  • Are tasks small enough to be manageable?
  • Am I putting time into the areas that promise the greatest payoffs?
  • Am I over- or under-committing myself?
  • Is there an accomplishment I haven’t acknowledged?
  • What have I done in the past to make things happen?
  • What did I like about my efforts this week and what might I have done differently?
  • Have I reviewed my job target?

How Long Will It Take?

  • There is no set formula for determining how long it takes to find a job, but here are some contributing factors:
  • The amount of time and effort you put in
  • How successfully you are able to network with people
  • The condition of the job market for your chosen industries
  • The overall economy
  • Employment and economic trends in your chosen geographic area
  • Luck

Action Plan Worksheet

Like most projects, job searches often take longer than you plan. To avoid excessive pressure, allow plenty of time so you are not forced into making concessions you can’t live with.

To help you we’ve created an Action Plan Worksheet you can fill out. You can also use our helpful Activities Log to keep track of your job search. These charts are PDF files readable in Adobe Acrobat. To get a free copy, click here


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