Going into the job search blind is a bad idea. Lack of preparation will result in an unfocused job search. You don’t want to spend hours searching job websites and applying for everything in sight that meets your payment requirements.
Instead, consider creating a career development plan. A career development plan is a document wherein you list your goals (both short- and long-term) as they relate to your current and future jobs. You then connect those goals with the accomplishments and milestones required to reach them.
Adapt this plan to your job search. The first goal on your plan should be to find a job. What do you need to accomplish that goal? How many resumes do you need to submit each day? Should you take classes at a nearby tech school or online?
Job searching is much easier once you have an idea of what you want and the types of jobs and milestones required to get there. And once you do find employment, the plan allows you to track your progress towards your ultimate career goals.
Still not convinced writing a career development plan is worth the effort? Here’s why it is.
It allows you to celebrate small victories
If you write a goal down, you become accountable to that goal. “I hope I send in five resumes today” becomes “I have to send in five resumes today to meet my goal.” And when you do meet that goal, you’ll feel a sense of pride and accomplishment. Checking things off a list always feels good, right? That’s because you have proof that you moved the needle that much closer toward achieving your goals.
You’ll know what you want
We all need to work to make money—that’s the main goal. However, ideally, you’ll eventually find a job you enjoy. Figuring out where you want your career to go allows you to be more passionate about your job search. Instead of being depressed about your life circumstances and unsure of how you got here, you’ll be able to look directly to your career development plan to see what needs to be done to reach your goals.
You’ll identify what you’re doing wrong
If all your goals are reasonable and you’re still not meeting them, it means something needs to change. Unless you’re dealing with a sick relative or other recent personal issue, odds are you’re approaching your job search or career the wrong way. Perhaps you’re spending too much time surfing online when you should be applying to jobs, or maybe you keep putting off joining a professional group or other organization that allows you to network. If you’re employed, it could be something small like taking lunch breaks that are too long or being too afraid to speak up in meetings. Whatever the reason, having a career development plan allows you to know when you’re off track. After that, it’s easier to identify the problem areas and fix them.