7 Ways You Can Control Your Job Search Progress

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By Arnie Fertig

Searching for a job is a lonely experience.

If you have come to the decision that you want to leave your current employer and search for a new position, you need to be very circumspect about the whole process, lest the wrong people find out at the wrong time.And, if you are unemployed while searching, you'll find that no matter how much you are networking and interacting with friends and even your family, you are ultimately on your own. Your family and friends, no doubt, want to be supportive and help. However, sometimes they aren't in a position to know how best to do that. Add another layer to the sense of isolation that you may experience.

You have a choice to make.

On one hand, you can allow yourself to flounder, perhaps making sporadic progress. And you can blame others for not putting opportunities in front of you while you passively wait for just the right thing to come along. Not recommended!

Alternatively, you can take control and act as the CEO of your own job search business enterprise. As with any great leader, you'll need to determine and articulate a vision of your professional future. You'll need to figure out how to operationalize and ultimately execute that plan in order to transform your vision into reality.

When you approach your search from this perspective, you can empower yourself to move forward in a positive fashion.

Here are some questions you'll need to answer in order to be successful:

1. What are your key strengths, specific skills and identifiable achievements up to this point in your career? What role do they prepare you to fill with distinction? In what context would a hiring authority value all that you bring to the table?

2. What are the key network resources you have to support you in your search? What is the nature of your professional network? How can you make people understand what specifically they can do to help? And what can you do to motivate them to do so?

3. How will you position yourself in the marketplace? How can you create and present a compelling case for people to want to interview you? Is your résumé accomplishment-based, or are you simply asking people to guess what you've actually done in your various positions? Is your LinkedIn profile complete in all regards with a professional picture and your story well presented?

4. How will you structure your time? How much time each day or week will you devote to your job hunt, and how will you divide your time between all the tasks of job hunting? How much time will you commit to working on LinkedIn, engaging in personal conversations and so forth?

5. What kinds of skills do you need to acquire or enhance to become a better job hunter? Who can help you? It might be that someone in your family or professional circle can help with your résumé. Or maybe you would be better served by going to a professional who has a broader view and more current experience.

6. What can you do in the coming day, week and month to keep up to date in your field or to broaden and enhance your skill set? It might be as simple as watching a few online how-to videos or reading professional journal articles. Would perspective employers expect you to have certifications you currently lack, and if so, how can you obtain them?

7. What will you do to keep yourself accountable for your own progress? Will you commit to setting specific goals on a measurable timeline and sharing what you've done with your coach, spouse or partner? Perhaps you only need to schedule a time to ask yourself each day or week what you have done recently and what benchmarks you've yet to fulfill.

Of course, there are things that will always be outside your control. Yet, when you create a formalized process and hold yourself accountable to it, you are far more likely to identify and maximize the opportunities open to you. You're also more likely to take on the new role your next employer is dying for you to fill.

Happy hunting!

Arnie Fertig, MPA, is passionate about helping his Jobhuntercoach clients advance their careers by transforming frantic "I'll apply to anything" searches into focused hunts for "great fit" opportunities. He brings to each client the extensive knowledge he gained when working in HR staffing and managing his boutique recruiting firm.
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