“Plan My Job Search? Why??”

Ask a job seeker what their plan is, and sometimes they’ll look at you like you’d lost it. “Plan?” they sometimes say, “What do you mean, plan? My plan is to find a job.”

Or they’ll say, “My plan is to use the Internet.”

It’s like asking someone the question, “What’s your plan for building your new house?” And having them answer, “My plan is to use a hammer and saw.”

That’s not a plan. That’s a list of tools. A very short list.

That same person, on their last job, always planned every project in detail: precise goals, time required, resources, costs, Gantt charts, contingencies, the whole works. But now, in job search, they seem to forget everything they know about organizing work. They act like the search is something that’s happening to them, something they have to cope with rather than something to plan and organize.

Happily, not everyone is like that. The best job seekers, of course, work this project in the same way the have always worked projects. Research it, plan it, organize the work, implement in a disciplined manner, measure progress and adjust plans as needed.

The catch is that most people have very limited experience in this particular project. The best people at initial planning in this project are often marketing managers, since that’s the kind of thinking required. Later, sometimes it’s the senior managers, the PR professionals or the salespeople who do the best job in search communications.

Professionally-designed and -led programs — those with a career coach — can accelerate the process of learning to be effective in the job search project. If you don’t have a coach, you can simply talk it over with a diverse group of peers. Get a marketing person, a financial person, a senior manager, and a lawyer talking about what it takes to plan and implement an effective search, and everyone will learn something.

If you want to use a proven process for this kind of peer support and consultation, you might try a Job Search Work Team. 

However you proceed, I think that learning something about the most effective management of a job search project is a really good idea. This probably won’t be the last time you’ll do it. That’s the way the world is these days.

So get good at job search this time around, and the next time – should it come – will be faster and easier. The first step is a project plan. A good one.