Plan Ahead and Research to Find the Job You Really Want

If you are one of the thousands searching for gainful employment, it’s important to realize that a massive shift has occurred in the job market. People are moving away from the concept of having “any old job'” to pay the bills. Not to be outdone, large companies are moving away from wanting “lifetime” employees. For the individual job searcher, it’s about finding an employer who meets your needs long enough to accomplish a goal. Your job also needs to be a place where your skills are in demand and your efforts are appreciated and rewarded.

In times past, the goal was to find a job with a major company and stay there until retirement. This mindset is no longer prevalent. The Bureau of Labor and Statistics reports that the average stay at any major company for workers between 35 and 54 years old is less than 7 years.

Many people are staying in their current job simply because they are worried about their ability to find a new one.

Granted, leaving a “stable” job in this climate seems like gross stupidity. However if you’re holding onto a horrible job out of fear, are you really doing yourself any favors?

It comes down to making careful choices. If you have been let go, then this is probably the best time to be picky. The process in this article takes some time and effort. How much time is completely up to you so before you leave your old job, make sure you have your savings in order and your bills under control.

You can’t give your best if you don’t feel your best

The first step in this plan is to look carefully at your health.

Searching for a job takes energy. If you are ill, out of shape or otherwise not at your peak, finding a job is going to be that much more difficult. You have to be honest with yourself about how you feel because it will translate into how well or how poorly you do. Remember, if you show up to an interview looking like you haven’t slept in 10 days it can hurt you. It’s amazing how easy it is to neglect health. It’s a truism though, no one will hire you if you appear to be moments from death.

So eat your vegetables. Go for walks when you can and treat yourself kindly. It’s trite, but you are the only you that you have…

Decide what you want to be when you grow up

While you are taking care of your health, begin to think about what your idea of the ‘perfect’ job or career is. Here are a few ideas that can help:

Assess what kind of worker you are. Are you better on a team or by yourself? Are you more productive at night or during the early hours of the morning? What motivates you to action without having anyone tell you to work? Are you an idea person or a task person? Having this information can help you in a dozen ways when you go to an interview and see what the company culture is all about.

What are your strongest passions and skills? Take an honest look at your skill set and background. What have you always done well? Is there a skill that you have now that you could expand on and create a resume with? The advice that’s becoming prevalent is to find work that encompasses a strong passion. It’s been shown that this aspect alone helps people live happier, healthier lives. If you choose a company that does not share at least some of your passion, you are doing yourself a disservice.

Take advantage of any free courses offered through colleges or where you live. Even if it’s only a class at the local library, there is someone somewhere willing to teach and this could be to your advantage. Useful information is all around you. Never limit your world to what you already know.

Join a group. Just as there are teachers in the most unexpected places, somewhere near you is a group full of people with similar job experiences, skills or contacts. Use every outlet available. A users group or networking group or even associating with a non-profit organization can provide help in ways you can’t yet imagine.

Figuring out the things above make it easier to pick the kind of company that you can excel with. Remember, a company isn’t the products it makes. A company is people just like you working towards a common goal.

Build your ‘perfect job’ profile

Okay, so you’ve seen to your health and you have a little better idea of what you’d like to do with your time. Let’s think about what constitutes the “right” job for you.

You know your skills. You’ve spent time perfecting your craft and finding ways to think in creative ways.

When you sit down to that interview you will be asked what you think your perfect job is. The time to think that through is now.

It’s a difficult question because “perfect’” means different things to different people. Consider the following:

  • What are you looking to accomplish for yourself with this job? (Remember, no matter who signs the check, you really work for you.)
  • What tasks or events are part of your “perfect” day? (Answer realistically; what do you like to do, what makes your motor run and gets the best out of you?)
  • What tasks or events do you truly hate to do? (Again, be honest. The assessment is only for you so don’t worry about someone judging your answers.)
  • How long do you want to be working for this company? (You don’t need a specific timeline, a general number will do, but it gives you a start and end point to reach your goal.)

The trick is to get clear about your strengths, weaknesses and goals.

Spend time researching the company you want to work for

This is the last part, but it’s as important as the others. You have to pick three or four companies that you think might be a good fit for the information you discovered from the assessment above. There are any number of places to find company statistics, but here are some ideas.

The first task is to identify at least three companies that you would like to work for. Why three? The goal of this is to give yourself options. Three companies can open up ideas you might never have thought of. You can identify these companies from TV ads, word of mouth or internet searches. The method for finding them really doesn’t matter. At this point they are just names.

The next step is to gather specific information about the companies you chose.

One of the best information sources is the Book of Lists. The book is a compendium of the top 100 companies in your region. It contains pertinent information you need to learn who, what, where, when and why.

Researching information available on a larger company can often lead to finding smaller companies you didn’t even know existed. The smaller company could have everything you need, and better yet, be looking for someone just like you. This is another reason to pick at least three companies. Like everything in life, its a numbers game. The more options you give yourself, the more likely you will hit the target correctly when you narrow down the field.

Now it’s time to roll up your sleeves. Your task is to weed out the ones who don’t fit the job profile you’ve built.

You want to find more than the company “face” on its website. Some good resources are websites like Glassdoor. These sites give good background information and usually contain links to other sites with even more information. You want reviews, customer feedback and employee reviews if they are available. Another great resource is the Better Business Bureau for your state. No one gets away from the BBB.

Learn as much as you can. Finding that perfect job depends on it, and it never hurts to enter the interview room knowing a lot about the company. It’s a rare interviewer who doesn’t ask what you know about the company.

Good luck with your job (career) search. It’s one of the tougher things you will do. The best part is through careful planning the rewards more than make up for the difficulty. Just remember to plan ahead and follow your heart.

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