[01.11.12]
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Structure: Is It Missing In Your Job Search?

job search strategy, new jobs, search tool, is it, search strategies, job search, job, recruitment, employment, jobs, search, strategy, lacks, structureHere’s a big fat truth you probably haven’t noticed.  Or if you have, it isn’t something you are conscious of each day during your job search.

And it’s a big fat truth for anyone else out there trying to build a consulting practice, start a small business or succeed in a sales career.

Especially if your transition to this stage in life is recent.  And you just left a job with a traditional 8-5 company.

Here’s why:

When you work for a traditional company you are given structure.  Both in the environment (office, desk, computer, pens, stapler, conference room) and the calendar (meetings, phone calls).  Someone expects you there by 8 and working until 5.  You are accountable to your boss, your team or the board of directors.  And responsible for specific parts of the business or product line.

Your job is, in part, reliant upon you being good at reacting to situations and the needs of internal and external customers.

So what is job search like?

It is almost completely the opposite.  It’s like waking up from a really long sleep and not knowing what time or day it is.  And you may not realize that you are now completely without structure.

And that leads to unproductive behavior, impulsiveness and, for some, a long period of time working without a strategy.

Something you never would have done in your old job.

And as we enter into private beta this week on the new job search strategy tool, my sincere hope is that this tool does for you what it did for me (back in ’07) when I had a solid strategy for my search.  This new tool is all about building that strategy.  Want to know when we enter public beta?

Sign up To Be Notified

Yesterday I was interviewed on Minnesota Public Radio with Kerri Miller about branding and job search strategy.  A follow-up to the interview with Tess Vigeland on Marketplace (American Public Media).  During the call yesterday, Anna called in and asked about job search with ADHD.  And I talked a little bit about how building a structure might help her stay on task and I offered some examples.

structure, job search, strategy, ideas, planning, goals, accountabilityBut the big fat truth is that most of us struggle with a lack of structure. 

After 10 or 15 years in a traditional job, you begin to take many things for granted.  And I meet far too many people who spend their first three months acclimatizing to the environment and chasing their tail.

So here are a few ideas for you:

Establish clear job search objectives

This way, when someone asks “what are you looking for in your next job?” you can tell them. And share crucial details that will help them engage with you.  This is one thing you will do early on if you sign up for the new job search tool. You will be better prepared when job opportunities roll around.

Set goals each week

Sounds simple enough, right?  But very few of you are doing it (based on the answers I get when asking this question at my speaking events).  Most of you are impulsive. And spend far too much time at home, online or going with the flow.  If you need it, use a goal card for job search like this one.

Join or start an accountability group

Why aren’t more people starting and joining accountability groups?  Here’s an accountability group post I wrote that includes an easy-to-use  template for structuring a group.  Oh, and start one today and you can help people while building a bit of local influence.  You could also start or join a job search book club or reading group.

Structure your days in advance

On Sunday night, sit down and plan out your week.  Email new connections from the week before and set up quick 30 minute meet-up.  Identify the best networking events happening in your area and put them on your schedule.  Then ask yourself these three questions about networking with a purpose.

Of course there’s much more here. But pick one or two these suggestions and see if it doesn’t get you more focused on how you spend your time.  All while you are trying to accomplish something really important for your career.

How have you added structure?  Tell me your secrets!

Thanks Anthony Shemmans for the great photo via Flickr


Written by: Tim Tyrell-Smith
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Categories: How To Find A New Job
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  • Scott Griffin

    Hi Tim,
    I have a question for you: I consider myself to be a fairly adept at job searching. I have drawn out a job search plan, goals, and I make sure that I still have a structured day. I will be not be searching for a job online, but instead will be relying on my personal network of contact and my Rotary club.The one thing that I am lacking is the determination of what job I want to do or am qualified to do. To help you help me, I will give a bit of background. I graduated with my degree in Business Admin in 2009, then spent 1 year selling copiers for Xerox, hitting all my marks in my first job out of college. I then left and started my own business, a fundraising company that organizes Christmas tree pre-sale fundraisers and provides the product for groups looking to raise money. I am a one man show, and do everything from sales, to marketing, to admin, to logistics.I am just coming out of the last season, and my plan is to hire somebody to run it for me going forward. I think now it is time for me to establish a career, and I would like your opinion on what it is you think that I am qualified to do (in the eyes of employers), and where you think I should gravitate my search. What I loved about running my own business is how I was able to wheel and deal, come up with an idea and execute it. I would really like to avoid putting myself back in a pure sales role like I did with Xerox. I don’t miss the stressful environment of waking up every month at $0. Also, with my education and background, I don’t have a specialty in something like accounting, engineering, or product design.I guess my question is, what am I looking for? 

    • Hey Scott – Yes, this is a big question.  A few questions for you to ask yourself:

      – Why did you take the sales job in the first place – were you attracted to sales or was it just your best option available?  Depending on the company and industry, a career in sales can offer the flexibility and creativity you seem to enjoy in your recent entrepreneur experience.  Some sales managers don’t care how you do it as long as you deliver.

      – What else did you enjoy during your college career?  Were you involved on campus?  If so, what was it and what aspect got you going?

      Also, consider contacting your undergrad career center – there you may have access to assessment tools that might help you think through this decision with the help of some structure – and an objective learning process.

      It’s often hard to know what you love to do.  And even if you do, it is sometimes hard to make money doing it.

      Good luck to you!

    • Scott Griffin

      Thanks for the advice Tim. Interesting that you picked up on my desire for flexibility- I’d say until recently, that was my #1 value.

      I read your comment closely and I have really started to lean back into the possibility of getting back into sales, as long as the company sells something I find interesting or cutting edge (like biotech) and will provide me a path to management should that be something I want to do in 2-3 years.

    • Good luck Scott.  🙂

  • Scott

    Hi Tim,
    I have a question for you: I consider myself to be a fairly adept at job searching. I have drawn out a job search plan, goals, and I make sure that I still have a structured day. I will be not be searching for a job online, but instead will be relying on my personal network of contact and my Rotary club.The one thing that I am lacking is the determination of what job I want to do or am qualified to do. To help you help me, I will give a bit of background. I graduated with my degree in Business Admin in 2009, then spent 1 year selling copiers for Xerox, hitting all my marks in my first job out of college. I then left and started my own business, a fundraising company that organizes Christmas tree pre-sale fundraisers and provides the product for groups looking to raise money. I am a one man show, and do everything from sales, to marketing, to admin, to logistics.I am just coming out of the last season, and my plan is to hire somebody to run it for me going forward. I think now it is time for me to establish a career, and I would like your opinion on what it is you think that I am qualified to do (in the eyes of employers), and where you think I should gravitate my search. What I loved about running my own business is how I was able to wheel and deal, come up with an idea and execute it. I would really like to avoid putting myself back in a pure sales role like I did with Xerox. I don’t miss the stressful environment of waking up every month at $0. Also, with my education and background, I don’t have a specialty in something like accounting, engineering, or product design.I guess my question is, what am I looking for? 

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  • I think that the lack of the structure that the “system” provides us with throughout our entire academic life is one thing that students are missing the most once they leave school, whether they know it or not.

    • Wow, great point Daly.  Hadn’t applied this to candidates coming out of undergrad or graduate school but you are absolutely right.  Especially on all-inclusive campus environments, everything you need is right there.

      So now we need to teach them how to write their own life syllabus.  🙂

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