Create a Career Plan to Jump Start Your Job Search

It’s been a crazy 3 years! We just survived a terrible global pandemic and people lost their jobs in unprecedented numbers. Then the jobs came back and people began to quit – the Great Resignation. But even if they didn’t really quit, many experienced a ‘silent quitting’. And now the economy has turned down again – layoffs are happening at companies where you would never have expected them, and we may be going into another recession. Who could have predicted all this a mere few years ago?

But because of all that turmoil, people have finally woken up to the fact that they may have just been allowing their career to follow its own path, without stopping to take stock of whether they really liked what they were doing at all. And that’s a good thing. Because you’d hate to get to the end of your work life, or life, and look back and realize that you should have done much more or something different. You don’t want to finish off with any regrets.

It’s important to understand that you are the only one who is responsible for your career. No one else will take it on, everyone is too worried about their own stuff to have time for yours.

And always in crisis there is opportunity and as someone famously said – you’d hate to waste a good crisis! If you were too stressed or busy to take the opportunity 2 years ago, now could be the time to take a fresh look at your job and career prospects, short and long term, before you are forced to. Or maybe now you are already in that tough position of being laid off and have to scramble to react. Either way, now might be the right time to sit down and make sure you are on the right path, or to put yourself on the right path.

The good news is that there are jobs out there, even amidst the layoffs but the key is to optimize all you do with your job search so that you stand out from the crowd. And that starts with creating a realistic career plan and a way to follow it.

Here are 10 quick steps you can do to start that plan and to make sure you will have the best chance of success. I’ve included some questions to get you thinking but there is a lot more you can drill down to within each:

  1. This is an opportunity to re-evaluate your work & life (i.e. what do I want to do when I grow up?)
  • What are your passions and are you really pursuing them?
  • Are you happy in your current career path/profession?
  • What do you really want for your work & personal life?
  • Can you create a vision board that accurately describes what you want?
  • What do you regret not having done yet?
  1. Itemize your worth
  • What are your signature strengths/strongest skills?
  • What makes you unique – what do you bring to an org that no one else does?
  • What skills do you have that could transfer to another type of job, work or Org?
  1. Clarify the industry, company & job you want to work in
  • what are your values and how do you want to see them in the workplace?
  • what is your vision of the perfect job?
  • What are the nonnegotiable things that your job has to have?
  • What are the top 5 job opportunities/prospects that fit the above?
  • What are the top 5-10 dream companies you might want to work for?
  1. Update your resume so it tells your story well
  • Do you tweak for each job description you go for?
  • Have you included key words from the job description so it will get through the application tracking systems ok?
  • Do you highlight your accomplishments in specific and measurable terms?
  • Is it simple and not too wordy?
  1. Optimize your cover letter to highlight your best strengths
  • Is it disruptive or different so it catches attention right at the start?
  • Is it customized to each new job you apply for?
  • Does it show why you are excited to work for that company and can you build a connection with them through this letter?
  1. Check that your LinkedIn profile will represent you well to recruiters & hiring managers
  • Do you have a Heading section that describes the job you want?
  • Does it have the key words of the job descriptions you are looking at throughout?
  • Have you identified your LinkedIn contacts (especially hiring managers & recruiters in your dream companies) for effective networking?
  1. Create a networking plan
  • Are you taking advantage of all of your LinkedIn network to help you look for the next opportunity?
  • Are you asking potential hirers/recruiters in your dream companies for informational interviews? (remember not all jobs will even be posted these days)
  • Are you reaching out to friends & colleagues to let them know of your career search & asking for help?
  • Have you created a plan to network daily or at least weekly?
  1. Create an interview plan
  • Are you preparing for your interviews now, while you still have lots of time?
  • Do you have 6-8 strong stories to tell that highlight the characteristics the job description is asking for?
  • Do you have someone who you can practice with?
  • Do you have thoughtful questions prepared that you can ask of the interviewers?
  • Can you show value to the interviewers and help solve their business problems?
  1. Look for an accountability partner, friend or coach to keep you on task
  • Do you have someone to help you make progress on your plan?
  • Have you laid out daily or weekly tasks to ensure progress is made?
  1. Make time for self-care during the job search
  • How can you keep yourself motivated during this job search?
  • Do you have a way to bounce back if you get rejected?

If you’ve got good answers to these questions, you’ve already started creating a career plan and a path that can take you there. Get started now before you need to. Or if you need to, this will help you jump start your job search.

Remember that a job search is like a full time job in itself but try and keep in mind that all those no’s just bring you that much closer to a ‘yes’, and it’s usually the one you’ve wanted all along!

Let me know if you need some help!