Times are turbulent for job-seekers. While unemployment reports have eased from the peaks of late April, we’re still living in an economy where one in ten Americans is searching for work.
If you’re among those looking to get back in the job market, you know how overwhelming it can be. Maybe you don’t know where to start – or maybe you’ve already sent in dozens of applications, and now you’re wondering if you’ll ever hear back. But remember, you’re not just finding a job for today: You’re building a career, and that’s worth taking the effort to do right. Without blueprints, you wouldn’t have much luck building a house. In the same way, a job search plan gives you a realistic vision of where you want to be – and what you’ll need to get there.
Here’s what you’ll need to get started:
1. Commitment. Job searching takes a significant amount of time, energy and focus, and spending just a few hours here and there won’t do the trick. Be ready to spend most of your day researching, applying, networking and interviewing. Until you get back to work, your job search should be your full-time job.
2. Self-Examination. When you’re out of work, it can be tempting to apply for any open position you can find. Instead, take time to understand what job will really be the best match for your interests and abilities, and you’ll save time and energy by not applying for a job that’s the wrong fit.
Try looking at your job search from three perspectives: career interests; work values; and skills and education. Career interests encompass what you want to do. Do you want to continue in the same field or industry? Or is it time for a change? Work values are about how you want to work. Do you have a strong sense of purpose? Do you need a flexible work schedule? Last, ask yourself what you can offer as an employee. What skills, experience or training do you have? How could they be best put to use?
3. Research. Once you have a goal in mind, start researching your chosen field. Which companies are hiring? If so, how often? Is the industry growing, or is it mature? What are the average salaries for the field you’re interested in – and how do the salaries offered at each company compare to the average? What values does each company have? How do they compare to your own values?
By doing your research, you can focus your energy on the positions that are a good fit for you. And when you finally score that interview, your in-depth understanding of the company and industry will help you stand out from the crowd.
4. Strategy. Don’t limit your toolbox to just one tactic. Mix and match different resources: Reach out to contacts on LinkedIn. Use job boards and websites like Indeed, Glassdoor, ZipRecruiter, Monster.com or USA Jobs. Attend virtual hiring events. Talk to people in your personal network. Apply on company websites. You never know which job fair, friend of a friend, online listing or open interview might connect you to the perfect position.
5. Flexibility. In a job search, you’ll find the most success if you can roll with the punches. Your ideal position may not pan out, and a company that seems like the perfect fit may not be hiring. Change course if that’s what you need to do: The best plans are organic, not static.
6. Determination. Know that you will be rejected. You’ll face challenges, disappointments and frustrations. But that doesn’t change what you’re worth – and you deserve the effort it takes to find the right job. In the meantime, reach out to family and friends when you need encouragement and support.
Especially now, no one should face the challenges of a job search alone. Need a little extra help? You can access free, one-on-one help with a career specialist at Goodwill. Our job connection services include career counseling, resume help, practice interviews, unemployment guidance and more. During COVID-19, we’re also offering virtual support through phone, email, social media and webinars.
The struggles and worries we share today are a reminder that we all belong to one community. At Goodwill, we believe in building lives that work by supporting our neighbors through troubled times with resources, compassion and encouragement. With the right tools, you can do more than find a good job – you’ll build a brighter future.
Odalys Simmons and Damaris Moraza are career specialists at Goodwill Industries of Central
Florida. They can be reached at JobConnection@GoodwillCFL.org, or by calling (407) 235-1541.