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Pre-Search Preperation

Career Resource Center

Preparation Before you Start Your Search

Welcome to one of the most important and positive decisions you can make in your life- contemplating a job change. Making a change may or may not be right for you at this time. We’ve included a few questions to consider prior to starting a job search.

Questions to consider:

  • How could making a job change add more value in your life? Are you committed to a certain cause? For example, if you were committed to helping people get out of debt or save for retirement, perhaps you would like to work as a financial counselor in a bank or other corporate setting.
  • How will a new job impact your family and your values? If a new position necessitates more time in the office or traveling, make sure to factor that into your decision-making process.
  • Will you be open to relocation? This should be discussed with your family and people who are important to you prior to starting your search. This will play a part in your target companies- if they are located near you currently or if you are open to moving for your dream job.
  • Is it possible this new job could be outsourced or eliminated? Do some research so you can make educated decisions in this ever-changing economic climate.
  • Are you entrepreneurial? Would starting your own business or partnering with others be feasible to providing services to these companies? Do you feel comfortable taking on the risks of being a business-owner or would you rather focus on the work you love?
  • Am I making this decision as the result of an emotional or situational blow-up? It is not advisable that you decide to make a job change in an emotionally turbulent state. Take a breather, and revisit at another time when you can think objectively about what is right for you, your career and your personal situation.
  • Have I been at my current job long enough? Before the technology bubble, long tenure at a job was looked upon as a requirement and an asset, but employers are more open-minded now and realize that, in certain cases, having several positions may result in a candidate with well-rounded experience and broad skill sets. Two years of tenure is the shortest amount of time that most human resource professionals recommend before looking for a new position. Anything less, and you haven’t stayed long enough to see the benefits and/or ramifications of the decisions that you’ve made in an company. From a professional reference standpoint, it is hard for someone to get to know you in under two years. Think about how your tenure will look on your resume, in accord with what niche you are in.
  • What do you love doing? Not all of us know the answer to this, so volunteer, intern, research, take tests, talk to a job coach, and go on informational interviews. Talk to everyone you know about your interests and see if they know someone you can talk to. Those people may become great resources when you start targeting a new career/job.

How to spend your resources wisely:

Your time
Prepare yourself for spending a good amount of time on your job search. Selling yourself requires a significant investment of your time. Think of yourself like a product- the more contacts you make, the better your chances are of finding a lead. The more relevant positions you apply to, the better chance you have of getting called in for an interview. Keep a realistic goal of how long it will take to find a job. It will usually take longer than expected. The more time you can devote to research and applying to relevant positions, the better result you will yield. Be prepared to work interviews into your work schedule.

Perseverance
Know that emotional and psychological stresses are all part of searching for and changing jobs. It takes a lot of energy to keep plugging along, especially if the employers’ responses are slow. Rejection is part of the game, but always focus on the positive and remember not to act out of desperation.

Setting goals and planning for success:

Setting goals
When you are setting goals, think about what is missing from your life and/or current position. Is it challenge, professional growth, independence, more time with family, more money, or a better work/life balance? What types of positions have what you are looking for? For example, do you want a large corporate setting where there may be superior benefits but more red tape, or do you want a smaller office where you feel like you’re making a difference but have to work more hours? Think about what is really important to you and then write down your goals for your future job. Some examples could be: (1) stay at my job for 6 more months (if you have been there for only a short period of time), (2) get promoted or earn a performance bonus, (3) make contacts at my desired next location, (4) learn a new skill, and (5) wait for the right need to arise at another company. Just having a plan of action, even if it is not for an immediate change will make you feel like you are being proactive and creating your own future.

Planning for success
Once you decide what your goals are, break them down into small accomplishments for each day and build on that momentum. For example, if you know what you need to do to get your performance bonus, work backwards in your planner or calendar and break your big goal into little steps that you can do everyday. It may seem overly simplistic at first when you start breaking them down, but it will become a habit for you. This process will also teach you to jump from the big picture to the details quickly, which is a great job skill to have. Looking back on accomplishments helps rev up your plan and provides a sense of satisfaction. Do this for each task and you will find your calendar ‘to do’ list busily planned, in addition to getting motivated and excited about the results.

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