Preparing for Your Job Search

Preparing for Your Job Search

Searching for a new job can be a time-consuming process. Not to mention, at times, difficult and disheartening!

Making sure you are adequately prepared before you commence your job search can improve your effectiveness and alleviate some stress. Similarly, if you have been job searching for a while without success, you may find it helpful to reflect on your approach.

Your job search will be most effective if you (1) know what you are looking for and (2) know what you have to offer.

Here is some guidance to help you answer these questions and prepare for your job search

What is my Ideal Job?

For an effective job search, you need to have a clear goal. A well-defined objective will allow you to focus your efforts.

There are several considerations to make when deciding on your next career move. Here are some brief exercises that can help you define your goals.

Brainstorm Image: Preparing for job search

Visualize Your Ideal Work Day

By visualizing your ideal or fantasy work day, you gain valuable insights to assist you in developing your career plan and goals. 

This exercise will increase your self-understanding and help you to identify work preferences and priorities. Having clear priorities will support a more focused and efficient job search. 

Take time to visualize your ideal work day. Don’t be constrained by realities or negative self-talk; simply imagine the perfect work day for you.

Here are some questions to help:

  • What time do you wake up?
  • What do you wear to work?
  • What time do you leave for work?
  • How did you get to work? How long did it take?
  • Where is your job? (city, home, office, outdoors, etc.)
  • What kind of work do you do?
  • What are your work hours?
  • What do you get paid?
  • What are the benefits?
  • How do you begin your day?
  • Do you plan your work day, or does someone else?
  • Do you work alone or with others?
  • What skills will you use today?
  • What do you work with? (people, data, nature, machinery, tools, etc.)
  • Who do you work with?
  • Who do you report to?
  • What do you like about your work?
  • What passions, interests or values are part of your work?
  • How do you feel at the end of your work day?
man laying bricks in hard hat. Ideal job

Review your answers and consider which aspects of your ideal work day are necessary, optional, or a bonus. 

By doing so, you will have determined your priorities (your non-negotiables).

Keep this in mind when evaluating job opportunities. Don’t spend time applying for roles that don’t align with your non-negotiables.

Related: Understanding Workplace Culture: Key to Finding Your Ideal Job

Career Bucket List

Computer with Calendar Planner Organization Management Remind Concept

Making a career bucket list is an exercise in goal setting. However, the goals on your career bucket list should be your big career goals, stretch you and be inspirational.

Begin your list by setting you’re a deadline. Rather than a bucket list, you might prefer your list to be a ‘before retirement list’ or a ‘before 40’ list. Use any achievable timeframe that will motivate you.

Time to brainstorm. Sit down and reflect on your career goals. What inspires you? What do you want to achieve?

Consider what skills you would like to develop. Do you have any educational goals? Do you desire a promotion, an award or other achievement?

Don’t forget to review your bucket list regularly. Check your progress and adjust your focus if necessary.

You may also need to update your list. Your interests may change, your confidence may grow, and your list will need to evolve with you.

Use this list to evaluate job openings. Will the position allow you to move towards these goals?

Your Retirement Speech

This one is similar to the Career Bucket List exercise. However, alongside setting goals for your career, it is designed to get you thinking about how you define career success and the path to achieving your goals.

For this exercise, you write the speech or feature article that would be written on your retirement. 

The speech will describe your career, path to get where you are today, and achievements.

Once you have written your retirement speech, you can reflect and determine the goals and actions needed to get you to that point. 

Remember, your goals should be clear, measurable, attainable, realistic and time-bound.

Career Test Drive

Red Van (represeting Career Test Drive)

Once you have a clear picture of your ideal role, you may like to test the idea before committing to leaving your current position.

A career test drive will allow you to have the experience without the commitment. You can obtain the insight you need to evaluate and ultimately make an informed decision.

Read more here: How to Take a Career Test Drive

What do I have to offer?

Selling yourself is hard! Even harder if you don’t have a clear sense of your strengths, skills, qualities, and abilities. Moreover, by having a clear understanding of your skills and strengths, you can open yourself up to different opportunities rather than being constrained by seeking a specific job title.

By reflecting on your skills, qualities and strengths, you can start your job search better equipped to describe yourself in your resume and at interview accurately. You will also be in an improved position to sell yourself to employers, knowing precisely what is unique about you and what you offer.

Graphic Elements representing skills.

Mind Tools has a comprehensive suite of resources for defining your career skills and managing your career. Other good online resources include: figure out your skills and free practice aptitude tests 

Alternatively, you can enlist the help of a career specialist.

With a clear idea of (1) what you are looking for and (2) what you have to offer, you are now ready for a productive and focused job search!

If you still feel held back, consider what other barriers you may have. For example, is a fear of rejection preventing you from committing wholeheartedly to your job search? Or, perhaps some setbacks have impacted your career resilience.

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