Focusing on the job search.


Finding the absolute perfect fit in a career position and having it mesh with your personal life takes some focused research. Before you begin to apply for positions, you will need to decide what is important to you in both arenas. Then research the market to find places that will meet all of your needs.

The process of researching potential career positions serves many purposes. First, you become aware of your personal needs and how they, positively or negatively, will affect your career choices. Second, you learn which companies are the leaders in your chosen field. The third benefit is the acquisition of terminology; you will know the “insider” names for job functions and will be able to use them in your cover letter and résumé. Finally, you will pre-screen potential employers and use this knowledge to decide whether they will be a good fit for you and your lifestyle.

The areas of discussion are as follows:

Planning for a job search

Before you search, decide what is important to you and those who will be affected by your choices. Some suggested questions you need to ask yourself could be what kind of place do you want to live in? Do you prefer living in a large urban environment or a small town, is a very rural location the one that most suits you? Who else will need to adapt also, to where you find your position? Will your spouse need to look for a new position also? What is the school situation? With what kind of company do you want to be associated? Are you happiest in a large corporate facility or do you enjoy the more personal small business environment? Consider each of these questions before you begin.

Write down what you want to gain from your job and what direction you want to go in life. Are you looking to move up into a managerial or executive position? Do you want to find the balance between work and family? Define the things that really matter to you. This will help you to stay focused while you sort through career opportunities.

Before you begin, get organized! Your job search is a serious business that needs professional management. Set goals, both daily and weekly, that include contacts you need to make, résumés you want to send, decide which organizations will increase your networking and join them. With the first letter of application, design a system to organize your search. A notebook or file folder that contains all of the information about each position and every bit of correspondence will make the hunt easier to manage. Consider a daily calendar with a “tasks” area to remind you to follow-up. Finally, have personal business cards printed — they only need to list your name with contact information and area(s) of proficiency.

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Doing the research

There are many kinds of resources available to help you with your job search. You will need to define the ones that work best for you. Use them to research the market. Because you have defined what you want in a new position and know what you, and your family, are looking for you have already begun your “market research.”

Get background information on your chosen field, do this even if you are looking to stay in the field you already work in. Terminology evolves and you want to use the current keywords when talking about your expertise. Analyze the listed openings in your areas of experience and/or education. Consider informational interviews. These interviews never are done to apply for a position but are a time to ask questions about a company or field. The time you spend researching a market will reap direct benefits. You will be better equipped to know what employers value and which of those you can fulfill.

Your “market” research will also give you an idea of the local climate of the community surrounding the company. When I speak of climate here, I am talking about the social attitudes of the community as well as the weather. It may be necessary for you to do a profile of the city, county, and state where the prospective company is located. How does it fit with the decisions you made about what is important? If the location is urban and you need to live in a rural environment how much commuting will you have to do. Will the time you spend commuting take away from other things you value? Your commitment to a new position will be challenged if you are unhappy in your fundamental needs.

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Bonus:

Your market research will help to focus your résumé toward the exact position you want.

Résumé information form

Fill out the form answering the questions to the best of your ability and print the page. The more thorough you are will give yourself the best picture of your interests and abilities.

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