I am often asked what the critical “must-dos” during the job search process are and how much time you should invest in those tasks. It is as if there was is a standard formula for success that we can rely on.
Unfortunately, there is no such formula (that I know of) for figuring this out. It isn’t as simple as plugging in data and having an algorithm spit out an answer.
There isn’t a spreadsheet that asks for crucial data and based on that you get your answer; 20% of your time on resume writing, 15% on LinkedIn, and so on. That doesn’t exist.
However, there are foundational elements—or must-dos—necessary for every job search process. And, the amount of time you might need to spend on the individual items is ties to where you are currently in your career, the end goal you have in mind, how much time you actually can commit to the process and your overall level of commitment to the process.
The Eight Must-Dos
With my clients, I focus on eight elements that need to have some level of care and feeding during the career transition process. These eight elements are integral parts of the bigger picture and aren’t necessarily linear or dependent.
There is some overlap. For those that crave an exact process, I am afraid to tell you there isn’t one. But each of the eight steps is essential.
- Honest self-assessment
- Targeted resume(s)
- Individualized cover letters
- Intriguing LinkedIn profile
- Effective networking plan
- Rigorous company research
- Honed personal “stories”
- Practiced interview responses
Determining Time Allocation: It isn’t as simple as dividing the tasks up and spending roughly 12% of your time on each action or that 10 hours per task would be enough. Nor is there a typical allocation of time that applies to “most” people in career transitions.
Your breakdown will depend on your unique starting point, your goals, and the types of positions that interest you. Also, you may find yourself needing to go back to an earlier step or revisit prior work.
I do suggest you put together a straw man (initial or draft proposal) of the time you want to allocate to each step. It will help you stay on point and not get stuck at one point in the process.
To help pull that straw man together, ask yourself these questions:
- Do I have the expertise to do the work?
- Do I need to hire someone or bring in experts to help me along the way?
- Where is my starting point?
- How much do I already know about crucial aspects of the opportunities of interest?
- Is my focus (industry, functional, geographic, etc.) already honed in, or is it wide open?
Depending on your answers, you may need to allocate more time to one aspect of the plan. For example, if you are bound to a geographic area, the company research you might do is more limited than if the world is your oyster.
Bottom Line: The job search process takes work. There is no magic wand or standard formula. It takes commitment and focus to get what you want and need. Using the eight steps identified above, you can build your career transition plan and stay on course.
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