Some people think they’re too busy to conduct an effective job search–they feel overloaded at work, overwhelmed by family responsibilities, unsure what tasks to tackle next on their “to do” list. You know what–I think I just described myself, LOL! Except, of course, I’m not conducting or even planning a job search because I love what I’m doing now. Having said that, I think there are a lot of parallels between being an independent business owner/operator and a job seeker or potential job seeker.
Identify Primary Job Search Priorities
No human being I know can do everything at once, not even close. As for doing everything and doing it well–fat chance! That’s just as true for planning and conducting a job search or managing your career effectively as it is for someone like me who is what’s known as a solopreneur (no employees, etc.). Sooner or later–and sooner is better–you have to make some choices. Start by cutting yourself some slack and recognizing that not only can’t you do everything at once but also it’s okay to acknowledge and accept that fact. Superman or superwoman/Wonderwoman is a comic-book myth.
The next step is to identify the primary job search (or career management) items you need to complete in order to accomplish your next goal. You can start by including everything you’d like to achieve, but eventually you’ll find it necessary to begin whittling down that list to what’s do-able. That requires setting job search priorities (the must-do items) and establishing a prioritized timeline for completing them.
How to Handle Changing Job Search Priorities
Few things remain static in this life, and job searching/career management requirements definitely fall into the changeable category. That is, whether you want them to stay predictable and in line with your plans or not, they sometimes just won’t cooperate! You simply can’t script-out everything in your job search plan and expect to execute it exactly as originally planned. If you’re very lucky and have done your preparation work properly, you might actually succeed in that, but don’t count on it. As I tell my interview coaching clients, “expect the unexpected and be ready for it!”
When events outside your control force a change in plans, you need to reexamine both your end-goal and the actions you had planned to initiate to achieve it. Some elements might need to be postponed, accelerated or eliminated altogether. It’s also a good idea at this point to take a fresh look at the resources you are counting on to help you succeed in your job search. Maybe some of them need to be reevaluated and re-prioritized as well.
Occasionally you will find that the initial goal isn’t where you need or want to go any longer. Don’t be afraid to look at new possibilities. Sometimes they can produce results that will surprise and delight you.
You’ve all seen those article headlines: 10 best, 10 worst, 10 steps to take or avoid, top 10 vacation spots and so on. That’s because we’re apparently suckers for lists (sometimes the number isn’t 10, but the concept still works). For serious job seekers, however, the lists of topics such as best and worst places to live, look for employment, etc., can provide useful information–as long as they’re considered rationally.
An article by Danielle Kurtzleben on U.S. News & World Report (Jan. 20, 2012), gives one take on the situation. The writer notes that “vicious cycles of debt and irresponsible lending helped to cause the Great Recession, and now another vicious cycle of housing weakness and unemployment is keeping many cities from recovering.” Those of you living in California probably won’t be surprised but also won’t take much comfort from the knowledge that 7 of the 10 worst cities are in California, including the top 5.
What Does This Gloomy Economic Picture Mean for You?
Obviously, if you live in or near one of the listed cities, you might be thinking about the possibility of moving somewhere that has more positive employment activity. Of course, that assumes that if you’re currently a homeowner, you’ll be able to sell your home and finance a move.
On the flip side, if you live elsewhere and are considering relocating for a new job, you’ll want to keep in mind the existing conditions in the area you plan to move to. You might also see what information you can dig up on trends in that area that might make it less attractive down the road. For instance, are major industries in the area trending downward, and could that have an adverse effect on your industry, even if it’s currently doing reasonably well?
Information Sources for Employment Trends & Other Useful Data
A common difficulty with economic and employment-related data is that we usually don’t get it until months or years after the period it’s describing. Also, predictions for periods of 10 years or so are projecting so far into the future that they can become outdated long before the end of that time. That said, it can still be useful to consult respected sources for information on which cities, regions, industries and occupations seem to have the brightest prospects at this time. One good source is the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) and its Occupational Outlook Handbook (OOH). The 2012-2013 edition of the OOH is scheduled to come out sometime in March 2012 and will be available online for free.
Plan Your Job Search with the Best Information Available
You can collect vast reams of information these days, thanks to the Internet. The point is, whether it’s the top 10 worst cities to find a job or the 10 best places to get a good education for your children, you’ll eventually have to call a halt to the information-gathering and begin taking some kind of action. You will probably never be able to acquire all the possible information and base your decisions on having a complete, 100% reliable picture. That’s the ideal, but the reality is not able to match it. Use commonsense to decide when you’ve reached the point of diminishing returns and start moving forward with your job search plan.