Job Hunting Strategies

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Tips for your Job Search

In the old days, finding a job was easy. All you had to do was get your hands on a flint-tipped spear and skewer a few mastodons and you were considered gainfully employed. The only headhunters were people who were after your skull, and “getting your name out there" meant painting it on a cave wall. As much as we may long for these simple times, the job search of today is a much more complicated and often vicious process. After all, they don't call it job “hunting" for nothing. Today's competitive and fast-paced job market has forced job seekers to develop a variety of techniques in order to stay ahead of the evolutionary curve. The only way to go about your job search is to think as though you're employed in the business of finding yourself a job.

For most people, having a job means that they go to work at a certain time, do their best to finish a certain number of tasks, and leave at a certain time. While the actual amount of time and energy spent varies from employee to employee, the formula remains the same. But when most people look for a job their search often turns into a free-for-all. Many job seekers don't realize that organization and time management pose just as much of a problem for them as it does for the employed. This is especially true for people coming out of college, who may or may not have held a long-term full-time job.

If you think about it in terms of our ancestors, you're not going to bring home any fish if you're not standing in the stream with your spear in hand everyday. In an effort to bring you back to your prehistoric roots. Don't Procrastinate Looking for a job can seem like an impossible task, leading to frustration and disgust. If you find yourself reading every magazine in the house, rearranging the furniture, and sewing new curtains because you're too overwhelmed by your job search, it's time to get a grip and reprioritize. The best way to avoid procrastinating is to set manageable goals for yourself. Don't hesitate to put a padlock on your Nintendo and rid yourself of any distractions that will keep you from focusing on the task at hand: job hunting.

Set Goals for Yourself and Prioritize Them

At the beginning of each day or week, set your goals. Your goals should not be overwhelming ones like “Have a well paying job by the end of the month, " but rather a series of smaller goals that will lead to employment. That way, each time you check something off your list it will be a victory.

Possible goals might include finding out the best person to contact about an interview or returning a prospective employer's phone call by the end of the workday. By giving each of these tasks a priority level—low to high—you begin, you can make sure you use your time wisely. The priority level of these goals will change daily, and the smart job seeker learns to roll with the punches in order to complete high-priority tasks.

Plan to Work Regular Hours at Your Job Search

Regular and steady hours when you hunt for work. This doesn't mean that you have to sit hunched over your computer for a full eight hours, but you should be doing things that will move your job hunt forward. Sample tasks might include phone calls to get the proper spelling of the names of hiring managers; drafting a cover letter; researching a company; networking with a neighbor over coffee; and training yourself on a computer program that will make you more hirable. When you do these things doesn't really matter, but make sure at least some of your working hours fall during the business hours of the companies you're contacting.

Make Sure You Have What You Need

If you were out hunting for food, you'd need certain equipment to be successful. You'd have your spear (more effective than bare hands), comfortable moccasins (to protect your feet from thorns), and furry loincloth (because it looks good). Searching for a job is no different.

Set your desk up with office supplies, folders for tracking information, and anything else you might need to work comfortably. If you don't have these things on hand when you begin, you'll spend a lot of time running to the copy shop and office supply store when you should be looking for a job.

Don't Work Yourself into the Ground

Unless your job is working on sleep-deprivation studies, you want to be fresh when you're interviewing and when you start work. If you toil 24 hours a day, 7 days a week at your job search, you're going to burn out. The last thing you want to do is to work so hard trying to get interviews that when you finally enter one, you're only able to communicate through grunts and whistles. Get plenty of rest, drink plenty of fluids, and stay healthy so you don't start your brand-new job on sick leave. This includes making sure you don't get stressed out. Looking for work can be tough, but if you do what you need to do to keep your spirits up, you should be fine.

Get Your Friends and Family to Help

The people you're close to can do more in your job search than bring you pizza and listen to you complain about looking for a job. Depending on their temperaments, your friends and family can help you research companies, conduct mock interviews, and proofread your résumé and cover letters. They are also a great source for networking. And chances are they'll be more than willing to help as long as you're appreciative. Just as a prehistoric hunter would bring meat back to the cave for the whole tribe, promise to take them out on the town as soon as you get your new high-profile, high-paying job.

As you go through this rite of initiation, keep looking forward to the feast. It will get you through the lean times, just as it did for the cave people

Manik Thapar (MBA)


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