Karen Bolda: Trials of Job Hunting

"Today is yesterday's plan put into action."

— John Greenleaf Whittier

This quote is especially true when you are in the midst of searching for a job. Fear and confusion about how to get a job can result in your search being driven by crisis management rather than a deliberate plan. Without a plan of what steps you will take toward getting a job, your stress level rises while your effectiveness at finding a job decreases.

It is important to remember that forethought, any forethought, is never a wasted effort. There is a false belief that plans involve hours of time, days of training, and complicated software. But, a plan doesn't need to have details with schedules and timelines; the most effective plans are the ones that are very simple. Begin the process of formulating a plan by answering three questions: Where am I now? Where do I want to be? and How will I get there?

Practice planning by applying these questions to your current job hunt. Start with the question, "Where am I now?" In this case, your answer is probably, "Without a job!" The question of, "Where would you like to be?" requires more thought. Be specific about what type of work you would like to do and where you would like to work. The last question to ask is, "How will you get there?" List the things you should be doing to get your foot in the door, such as asking your network if they know anyone that works there, calling for an informational interview, reviewing their Web site for job announcements, or other creative ways of making connections.

Remember, a plan is not necessarily a schedule. Your plan will be most successful if you commit to an outcome, not a schedule. For example, list the steps you need to take to start making connections without committing to a specific time it will be done. This is your plan. Now take out your dayplanner and pencil in the days and time you will do your steps. If you are delayed in your schedule, your plan has not failed; you just need to adjust the schedule. Get into the habit of planning and you can begin planning further and further ahead, eventually breaking the cycle of crisis management.

Karen Bolda is a meeting facilitator and professional development trainer in Ashland. Visit her Web site at www.karenbolda.com.