Just as you need different types of traps for catching mustangs, bears, and fish, you will need different strategies for hunting for an engineer opening, a psychologist assistant position, or a nurse internship. There are, however, a few steps that are the same, no matter which forest you are hunting in. Let's start with those.
1. Just as in any other kind of hunt, the first thing you need to do when starting a job hunt is to decide what exactly it is that you are trying to catch. It is very important to have a good idea for the kind of job you want. It will be your foundation for the whole job search process - start to finish.
Here are a few questions to help you figure out what you will be hunting for:
- Am I happy in my current career field?
- What kind of activities do I enjoy doing the most in my daily life? What do I strongly dislike?
- What do I imagine my day to be like 3 years from now?
- Do I enjoy working in a cozy, relaxed atmosphere or corporate environment?
- What do I want my job responsibilities to be with my next employer?
A good idea might be to take a few career assessment tests. Such as Myers-Briggs (MBTI) personality indicator, Career Quiz on monster.com.
2. When you know what kind of prey. . . khm. . . job you will be hunting for, it's time to prepare your “equipment". You will need a few key items to succeed in capturing your perfect job:
- A resume that makes you look better than the competition
- A cover letter that captures the recruiter's attention and makes them want to know more about you
- References from your colleagues and/or school professors
- A valid email address and a phone number where you will actually pick up the phone
- A network of people (!!!) who could potentially help you in your endeavors
- and a decent looking set of clothes to wear at the interviews
3. After you prepare your “traps", you need to decide, where you will be hunting and what will be the best way to use your equipment to get that job. There are a few strategies that could be used simultaneously or sequentially during the hunt:
- Networking - applying for jobs through the people you know, getting references, using professional networks such as linkedin.com and plaxo.com
- Posting your resume and cover letter on job search sites such as hotjobs.com, craigslist.org, monster.com, and others
- Contacting employers directly by sending letter to human resources, calling, or walking in to drop off your resume
- Using staffing agencies and recruiters to help you in your pursuit
- Submitting your resume to potential employers through job search sites
4. After you decided on the hunt strategy and actually went out to the woods. . . khm. . . job sites, you will get closer to your “prey" - the potential employers will start getting back to you by phone and email. You will go through phone screens, preliminary interviews, and full on evaluation processes. It is very important to show your best during this stage. Interviews is where you figure out whether or not the job will be right for you - and where the employer figures out whether you will be right for the job.
5. And finally - you catch that deer - you get an offer of employment letter. You think this is where it ends?. . Nope! This is where my favorite part begins. The negotiation game. A lot of people are so psyched that they got their mustang, that they forget to feed it, tame it, and build it a nice stall. In the job search terms - people forget to make sure they actually like the whole benefit package.
It is not over when you get an offer! You need to compromise on the terms so that both you, and the employer are happy! This is where the negotiation game begins.
After you have negotiated the desired benefit and salary package, start date, and stock options - sign the offer. Congratulations! You are now happily employed.