by Randall S. Hansen, Ph.D.
One of the hardest parts of job-hunting is often putting in enough effort to get the results you seek. You may respond to a few job ads, perhaps talk with a couple of people in your network, and possibly post your resume on a few job boards… but then you wait and nothing really happens.
If you are serious about finding a new job, then you need to put more time and dedication into the process — and one way to accomplish this feat is to set aside a week to focus solely on your job-search. This process involves starting each day with a set of goals to accomplish — and then spending the day doing your best to achieve them.
By following the guidelines in this article, you should be well on your way to laying the foundation for a new job.
Day 1 of Your Job-Search
Your goal for this day is to establish your job-search goals and to get organized. These two activities are essential to job-hunting success.
The ideal goal is one or more solid job leads by the end of the week, but you may have some other goals too, such as expanding your network of contacts and researching further educational or training opportunities.
Organization is essential. You can too easily waste time the entire week if you don’t step up the planning an organizing. Consider setting up some spreadsheets or logs — for your network, for job leads, and for other aspects of your job search. See this sample job lead follow-up log.
Day 2 of Your Job-Search
Your goal for this day is to make an inventory of your accomplishments, develop your USP, and analyze your network of contacts.
Before you can even begin to analyze your resume or work on your interviewing skills, you have to spend the time describing and categorizing accomplishments from all your relevant work experiences — including school projects if you are a new grad. Review all your past experiences and brainstorm the impact you made — how you performed the job differently than anyone else and what results you achieved. Whenever possible, try to quantify those accomplishments. To get some assistance with this task, read For Job-Hunting Success: Track and Leverage Your Accomplishments and use the accompanying Job-Seeker Accomplishments Worksheet.
Once you’ve identified all your accomplishments, you can start on your unique selling proposition (USP). Your USP is the thing that makes you different — better — than all the other job-seekers. Your USP sets you apart. You’ll want to craft your USP into about a 10-15 word statement that you can use on your career marketing documents as well as in interviews. Some experts also refer to this statement as your elevator pitch.
The final part of your day should be analyzing and mapping your network of contacts. Your network is the people with whom you have a relationship — family, friends, neighbors, colleagues, mentors, former bosses. And your network actually can extend to the networks of all the people you know. Your goal is to organize and prioritize your list of network contacts so that you’ll be prepared to contact the people who will most likely have access to — or knowledge of — job openings in your field. If you have any concerns about networking as one of the most valuable tools of your job-search, read Breaking the Myths About Career Networking. And if you are struggling with developing your list of contacts, consider reviewing some of these other key career networking resources for job-seekers.
Keep track of your network with this Sample Network Contact Log.
Day 3 of Your Job-Search
Your goal for this day is to perfect your career marketing documents and spend more time on networking.
Now that you have identified your accomplishments, you can write a new resume or revise your existing resume. Actually, what you’ll be doing is perfecting your resume foundation — because with each job opportunity, you’ll want to modify your resume to reflect the specific requirements of the job as well as use some of the words and phrases the prospective employer uses to describe the position. There simply is no such thing as one-resume-fits-all anymore. If you’re ready, use this Resume Critique Worksheet for Job-Seekers to evaluate your resume on several critical criteria. And while you’re at it, read how to Avoid These 10 Resume Mistakes. If you need a bit more help with developing your resume, check out all of these Resume and CV Resources for Job-Seekers — as well as these professional resume and CV samples.
Finally, if you have any concerns about your resume — your most important job-hunting document — consider having it critiqued by a resume professional. If unsure, take this resume-writer assessment for job-seekers.
The other important career marketing document is your cover letter. While the goal of your resume is to obtain an interview, the goal of your cover letter is simply to get your resume read. Your cover letter must be dynamic and concise. Your goal should be to develop a solid cover letter core that you will modify for each opportunity. Once you’ve written your cover letter, use this Cover Letter Checklist.
An oft-neglected marketing document is your list of references. Take the time now to review who you currently have listed, brainstorm some other possibilities, and most importantly, contact each person you have listed — or want to list — and be sure they are willing to be listed as a reference for you. Remember that you do not have to list former bosses as references; use people who know your work and will speak highly of it — and of you. Read The Keys to Choosing and Using the Best Job References in Your Job Search.
The last part of your day should be spent on networking. First, send your newly revised resume to your key network members. Do not ask for a job, but ask for their help in identifying possible job opportunities. You should also look into ways to add new members to your network. Learn more with these Key Career Networking Resources for Job-Seekers.
Day 4 of Your Job-Search
Your goal for this day is to exhaust all possible avenues for job leads.
First, follow-up with your network about any possible job opportunities because these leads will have the most likelihood for success.
Second, develop a list of prospective employers in your target area — and then conduct an in-depth research campaign to learn more about each one, obtaining the name and contact information of the hiring manager for your area of expertise. Remember to check each organization’s job postings to see if there are any openings that match your qualifications.
Third, research and contact recruiters and temporary agencies that place job-seekers with your expertise.
Fourth, talk with the career services and alumni offices at your previous (or current) educational institutions and obtain possible networking and job leads.
Fifth, search some of the online job boards for possible leads. Don’t just search the major boards; consider geographic-specific or industry/profession niche boards.
Sixth, consider conducting some informational interviews. This networking tool often leads to the discovery of other job opportunities — as well as strengthening/broadening your knowledge of a particular industry/profession and expanding your network. Lean more in this Informational Interviewing Tutorial.
For other possible approaches to job leads, read 10 Ways to Develop Job Leads.
Send — or deliver — cover letter and resume packets to the hiring manager for each of the leads you uncover.
Day 5 of Your Job-Search
Your goal for this day is to prepare for job interviews and follow-up on job leads.
The best way to secure a job offer is to perform strongly in job interviews, and the best way to perform strongly in job interviews is through preparation. The most basic preparation you can do is to review a list of typical job interview questions, such as you can find in our Job Interview Questions Database for Job-Seekers.
The next level of preparation is to uncover the types of interviews or interview questions that are most likely for your industry/profession. You can learn more here: Job Interviewing Resources for Job-Seekers.
The deepest level of preparation is to actually write your answers to expected interview questions. There’s considerable research that shows that this type of preparation helps you better retain the answers, thus helping you perform better in the actual interview. Just remember not to memorize your answers.
Finally, remember to format your answers to interview questions as short stories — illustrative anecdotes — that focus on your actions, accomplishments, and learning experiences. One such approach is called the STAR technique.
And as the day progresses, remember to continue to track down and follow-up all job leads. Schedule interviews.
Day 6 of Your Job-Search
Your goal for this day is to continue following-up all job leads as well as pursue further career development.
Continue to work the phones, emails, and hit the pavement in your quest to uncover and follow-up on all job leads.
While you are waiting for the results of all your efforts, you may want to consider strengthening your interviewing preparation by developing a career portfolio. Your career portfolio contains an archive of job-search materials that help document your qualifications… your accomplishments. Portfolios often contain samples of your work, letters of accommodation/recommendation, awards and honors you’ve received, client testimonials, professional development, and much more. To discover if a portfolio is something you should consider, read Your Job Skills Portfolio: Gaining an Edge in Job-Hunting.
Day 7 of Your Job-Search
Your goal for this day is to continue following-up all job leads, scheduling interviews, and considering other options to take.
Your persistence in tracking down job leads will pay off greatly, so keep at it.
You should now have several hot prospects on your radar.
However, if, at the end of the day, the end of the week, you have gotten little or no interest from all your hard work, you may want to consider working with a career professional to review all aspects of your job-search campaign. Sometimes an outsider can see — and help you fix — some minor issues that are holding you back from achieving your goals. Read Should You Work with a Coach to Enhance Your Career? Get the FAQs.
Finally, remember to keep your network in the loop — and send thank-you notes to everyone who helped you in your job search. Read this FAQ About Thank You Letters.
Final Thoughts on the One-Week Job-Search
The one-week job-search lays the foundation for a successful job-hunt, but you may not see the results of all your hard work for weeks or months after this intensive seven-day effort. You may get lucky and be in the right place at the right time, but if your one-week efforts do not lead to any solid job leads, the best advice is to keep at it. The average job-search takes months, so don’t get discouraged — just keep following-up all job leads and keep uncovering new ones.
Questions about some of the terminology used in this article? Get more information (definitions and links) on key college, career, and job-search terms by going to our Job-Seeker’s Glossary of Job-Hunting Terms.
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