As the recession continues, the job search environment becomes more and more competitive. This means that to find the ideal job, you will have to invest time setting up goals, researching positions and companies, designing a way to promote yourself and building relationships that will help you get the right job. While the task of finding a job might seem like a major challenge, you can actually find your ideal job in about 90 days if you use the time to correctly prepare yourself as the ideal candidate. Think of it as a three step process: the first 30 days, the second 30 days and the last 30 days. At the end of this period, you should come out with your dream job and the beginning of a great career path.
The First 30 Days
The first 30 days are all about setting career goals, identifying areas and companies of interest and beginning the job search, which can serve to get you hired at a new job or to prepare you for when the ideal job opens up. This initial period can also be considered a time for researching since you will need to spend time learning about your field of interest and preparing many of the tools needed to get you hired.
• Begin looking at job and career opportunities that interest you. During the first 30 days, a preliminary job search can show you what types of job are available within your chosen field as well as the expectations of prospective employers. If you already have a job, this is the time to determine what path you want your career to take to identify your next move. This is a good way to evaluate if you are prepared for the jobs you are interested in or if you need additional preparation, experience and training.
• Meet with hiring managers in the jobs that seem appealing as well as people already employed in these areas and positions to figure out what the job entails and what companies expect from prospective employees in these positions. This is part of the research that will get you prepared for that ideal job since you can take this opportunity to ask all the questions your might have from the requirements needed to the amount of compensation and other job perks and the possibilities for career growth in the position.
• Write an effective, professional resume. Research examples of resumes focused on the field you are interested in and write various versions, depending on the types of job you are looking for. Make sure you understand what companies are looking for and highlight the education, work experience and skills that most meet those needs. You should have someone check your resume to make sure that it is written correctly and that it presents you in the best light.
• Prepare efficient cover letters that are also focused on the fields and positions that interest you. You can prepare a basic one with the important, unchanging personal information, that can later be adapted for specific positions. If the cover letter is prepared ahead of time, you will not have to waste time crafting the letter once you find jobs you want to apply for. Like the resume, the cover letter should be formatted correctly and should be free of any spelling and grammatical errors, particularly since this will often be the first mode of communication between you and a prospective employer.
• Seek out a mentor relationship with someone who is successful and experienced in your chosen field. The right mentor can guide you through your job search and help you create a clear career path while you learn about the job from someone who has already overcome any challenges and is successful.
The Second 30 Days
The second 30 days are all about making yourself more attractive to hiring managers and recruiters. This is the time to prepare the documents and tools that you will need to sell yourself to prospective employers as the best candidate by celebrating your past accomplishments and creating a plan for the future.
• Create a personal portfolio that builds from your resume and provides evidence of your skills, experience and accomplishments. A personal portfolio can be created in print or digital format, though the print format is considered more formal than the digital version. You can choose which format to use depending on your career goals and who your intended audience is. You can also choose to use both versions at the same time. You need to spend some time gathering, checking, organizing and compiling the information that will be included in a personal portfolio since it will often span more than five years of your life. A personal portfolio is a work-in-progress that you can continue to build as you continue to grow in your career. The information gathered for a personal portfolio can include awards won as part of your education or job performance, reference letters, photographs of both paid and volunteer work and any other documents that can serve as evidence of your development. It can also include a copy of yoru resume and profile. Make sure that your portfolio is organized, clear and professional. Once your personal portfolio is created, you are ready to share it with hiring managers and recruiters during your job search.
• Network by attending events that provide opportunities to meet with people involved in your chosen industry. Join professional associations related to your field and attend their mixers and other events sponsored by the association. Be ready to hand out business cards and to collect business cards from other attendees. Meetup events also provide opportunities for professionals interested in meeting others in their specific industry or field. You can search for a Meetup event near you or you can even organize your own as a way to meet others involved in your target industry. There are other online services available that focus on creating events for professionals in specific areas so they can meet, talk, exchange ideas and leads about new opportunities as well as make new connections. Conferences related to your field are another way to network and are often sponsored by the professional organizations.
• Design a development plan to prepare for the ideal job. Your dream job might not be available as soon as you begin searching for it. However, you can prepare for your dream position by researching the requirements needed to get the job so that you can see how you can meet them. A development plan lists clear career goals and the short and long-term actions you need to take to prepare for your dream job. It also includes an action plan for developing the skills necessary for the job. You need to evaluate where you are now and what you have to offer, where you want to be and what you will need to get there, and then use this knowledge to write down your goals and action plan.
The Last 30 Days
The last 30 days are all about getting the job. This is a more aggressive, hands-on time since you will use the relationships you have spent time building as well as all the tools you have created to make sure you get your dream job. This is the last stretch of the race and when you get to this period, you are ready to take advantage of the career opportunities that become available.
• Find sponsors who are willing to take you under their protection and help you get further ahead in your career. Sponsors play an even more important role than mentors since they not only offer advice, they can also publicly take you on as a protégé, which leads others in the field to show more interest and respect, opening up career opportunities for better or higher positions. Sponsors will help you identify career opportunities and will use their influence to help you take advantage of these opportunities. You can seek a sponsor relationship from successful peers, managers and community organizations that can then become guaranteed references in your resume and provide important contacts for you to continue growing in your field. Having a sponsor is quickly becoming one of the most important tools to finding better positions in an incredibly competitive environment.
• Maintain contact with hiring managers and recruiters to let them know how you continue to grow and the steps you have taken as part of your development plan. This will ensure that you become a more attractive candidate for desired jobs. This also lets them know about your continued interest in certain positions so that you are fresh in their minds when the right job opens up.
• Begin applying for available jobs that clearly match your interests. Once you have prepared your resume, cover letters and personal portfolio and have designed a development plan, you should begin applying for positions that fit within your career goals. You can also post your resume and career profile on websites that focus on matching prospective employers and employees.