As a Recruiter, I speak to hundreds of job seekers! Many of them do not have a clear idea of what specific job opportunity they are seeking. As common sense as it may sound, this is a critical first step to a successful job search. Trying to evaluate the needs/jobs available in the job market is really working backwards. Hiring managers and Recruiters are really turned off when a job seeker doesn’t know what they really want. They appear desperate for “any” job, and don’t appear likely to stay very long.
Here are the three key steps to put yourself on a path towards a truly satisfying job, and perhaps a career:
1. Assess yourself
Do a deep assessment of your skills, talents and passions. Take quizzes on your preferred work environments, and make a list of all the things you enjoy doing- even without pay! For example, in college, I wanted to be an Accountant, like my father. One Accounting course was enough to convince me I would rather be working with, and talking to people, as opposed to numbers and spreadsheets! My fellow blogger, Kirsten, wrote a great post a few months ago on how to find the right career and a self-assessment was a key step!
2. Research Jobs
The web has more than enough resources to find out about jobs that are available, trends about in-demand jobs, salary ranges, and descriptions about the types of people who are usually successful in those fields. Do your homework- look at company websites and Department of Labor job trends to find out who will be hiring and what they want as minimum qualifications.
3. Request Informational Interviews
There is no substitute for speaking to people who are currently performing the work that might interest you (or they did perform the work recently). You can ask any professional you meet at a Career fair or networking event, or even someone you find on Linkedin for 15 minutes of their time. In Informational Interviews, you ask the questions purely to gather information as you consider possible future options. This is NOT a back door to soliciting a job interview, so you are free to ask them the tough questions. “How did you get started in this field?” “What are the frustrations that come up in this job?” “What are the salary ranges for this type of position?”
If you can find an opportunity to shadow someone doing a job that interests you, or you can obtain a co-op or internship, or simply volunteer, you will get an even better picture of a job- at least, within the context on one specific organization.
The more time you spend up front in self-assessment, the easier the other parts of the job search become.
Check back here for more job search tips and strategies! Or if you have a burning question, ask us and it might be the theme of a future blog post!