Set Goals for Your Job Search
If you’re here, you probably have a goal of getting a job, potentially one that is at a higher level or better pay than you currently have. That’s wonderful, but there’s a big difference between having a goal and setting your intention for your job-search journey. Anyone can wish and hope that a job will appear, but that’s not quite as effective as when you set goals for your job search and create a pathway to achieve them.
Why You Must Set Goals for Your Job Search
It’s fantastic to have goals in life; most of us do have some ambitions we are constantly working toward. Other people actually achieve their life’s ambitions. What’s the difference between the people who set intentions and those who achieve them? The answer is simple: goal setting.
Before you launch into your search, take some time to determine what your goal is in starting this journey. Yes, you want to get a job, but get a bit more granular than that. First, grab a piece of paper or a place where you can write down some notes. Next, take a few moments to write down your answers to the following questions:
What is the title of the job I’m seeking?
In what industry do I want to work?
What is my timeline for securing a new job?
What is my ideal salary in this new job?
What will a day look like when I have started working in this ideal position?
What will my life look like six to 12 months after I’ve started my new job?
As you go through your job-search journey, having answers to these (and other) questions will cause you to think a bit about the path you’re taking. Anyone can land a job, but if you’ve invested the time into doing the work, you probably want more than just a job; you want a career. You may be looking for a starting point, a steppingstone along your path, or a place to hang your hat until you’re ready to retire. Wherever you are on your journey is great! But you still have questions to consider and answers to ponder. That’s why you must set goals for your job search—and maybe even revisit them along the journey.
By writing down the answers to these questions, you’ll start planning and visualizing what the future can look like. Now, you know what you’re looking for, specifically. That is powerful information. And by putting it down in writing, you have taken the first step to turning your goals into reality.
In addition to taking the time to set goals for your job search, you need to make time to do the work. There’s no sugar coating it: A job search is a challenging endeavor. If you want to be successful, you must schedule time to take action. Put your job search on your calendar or make it a recurring to-do item on your daily checklist. Set aside time every day for your search.
At first, you may need to schedule your job-search time around other activities and responsibilities, especially if you’re juggling a job and family. But as soon as possible, carve a set time into your calendar. Perhaps 3 pm every day works, or maybe you’re an early-morning person and want to work on it at 6 am. You may be the kind who stays up late and prefers to conduct research and send applications at 11 pm. Whatever time works for you, set goals for your job search that occur daily.
How much time you’ll need depends on how committed you are to driving results. If you are currently unemployed and need to land a job sooner rather than later, perhaps you’ll schedule an hour or two to start. If, however, you’re taking a more passive approach, 15–30 minutes might be sufficient. There’s no right or wrong answer here, and you’ll learn soon enough how much time you need.
Remember that your job-search time should be centered around three things:
Looking for and applying for jobs.
Networking at events, both in person and virtual.
Building your network on LinkedIn.
Each of these items requires time and dedication, but you can certainly be flexible in how you tackle them. Perhaps you’ll look for and apply to jobs 30 minutes each morning, spend 15 minutes on LinkedIn every Monday, Tuesday, and Thursday afternoon, and attend one networking event every week. Again, allot more time for quicker results, but don’t put all your eggs in one basket. While applying to hundreds of jobs can result in interviews, by taking a multitiered approach, you’ll leverage all the tools at your disposal and reap the rewards faster.
Another area that is important to dedicate time to is professional and personal development. Anything you learn during your job search will help you be successful. Listen to business or job-search podcasts, read self-development books, and peruse classes online. Becoming a learner through this process will help you overcome more obstacles and see the silver lining in each gray cloud.
An Open Mind + an Open Heart = Limitless Possibilities
Throughout your job search, you will be tested. You will be asked to step outside your comfort zone. You will face rejection. There will be plenty of reality checks and possibly even some tears. Looking for a job is hard work, and it doesn’t get easier with age; in fact, it can get even harder! That’s why it is so powerful to set goals for your job search. Plus, this work—and your goals—may take you in a different direction than is familiar to you.
Remember what Albert Einstein famously said: “Insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results.”
Human nature has shown that we fall into this trap continually throughout our lives. Therefore, you must stop doing the same thing you’ve always done in your job search. If you haven’t looked for a job in several years—or decades!—know that things have changed. And they continue to evolve as we incorporate artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning (ML) into the equation. Job seekers in the 1990s didn’t have to think about incorporating keywords into their resume so it could be found by AI. In the 2000s, you would often be one of less than 100 applicants, so you could stop by or call to follow up on your application.
Today, however, it’s a whole-new ball game. An average position receives more than 200 applications, with some exceeding 1,000. You as a job seeker have many more tools to learn and conquer, and the entire situation can be overwhelming. What you did a few years ago may no longer work, and a job search is not as easy as just clicking a button. There’s work to be done. It can be intense and soul crushing at times. But it can also be extremely rewarding!
Keep your mind and heart open to these new opportunities that lie before you. Know that you are not alone. All of us at Resume and Career Services are rooting for you, just as everyone else who’s undertaken this path is rooting for you. You will learn, adapt, and succeed. When you set goals for your job search, you’ll be on track to stay focused, stay optimistic, and keep smiling. You can do this.