Okay. We've convinced you that a positive attitude is a critical component of a successful job search. You've got that smile pasted on your face and know how to keep it there.
We've also convinced you of the importance of narrowing your search down to one or two particular jobs, while keeping your eyes open for related jobs that might match your skills and interests. You've reviewed what you can do and what you want to do, and you've stated your job objective. Now you're ready to hit the front lines and start the job search campaign, right?
Almost. Before you put on your marching shoes, there are a few more things you will want to do to make sure you score a decisive victory.Set up Command Control
Every army needs a headquarters. From here, you will be able to plan strategy for your job-hunting campaign, monitor developments, and devise and modify tactics as the battle progresses. Take a few minutes or hours (or even a day) to set up Command Control. It might seem like a waste of time, but it will save you a lot of unnecessary grief in the long run.
Give yourself some space. Find a room or an area in a room that you can devote entirely to your job search. It should be as private and as free from interruptions as possible.
Organize your space. Make sure you have plenty of desktop space to organize your materials. Get a comfortable chair--you'll be spending a lot of time in it!
Keep it clean! Nothing will make you less enthusiastic about job hunting than a messy, unorganized work space. Keep it neat, and give it a personal touch so that you feel comfortable and "at home" in it.
Once you have set up Command Control, your next step is to stock up on provisions. You will want to make sure you have supplies to last you throughout your job-hunting campaign. Nothing is worse than getting your résumé and cover letter all ready to mail for that last-minute job application and finding that you are out of staples and paper clips!
What supplies will you need? Here's a start . . .
The ability to create documents is essential in the job search process. You will have to be able to print such things as résumés, cover letters, and thank-you notes. That means you will need access to a typewriter or computer. If you don't have one, there are several options:
Check out your local library to see if they have typewriters or computers for public use.
Copy centers or similar businesses often have computers or typewriters that can be rented on an hourly basis.
Find a service that will produce documents for you. The Calgary Youth Employment Centre provides access to a computer and printer, but also have trained counsellors to help you write up an effective résumé and cover letter. Check out the other services YEC offers.
A good general will make sure that strong lines of communication are in place before venturing out to do battle. Establish a message center so you don't have to worry about missing important calls when you are "out in the field."
If anyone else will be answering the phone during your job search--parents siblings, roommates, etc.-- inform them of your job search and make sure they will answer the phone in a professional manner.
Put a pad of paper and a pen or pencil by the phone. Have a bulletin board or some other specific place near the phone to post notes and messages. Make sure that anyone who takes a message writes it down and doesn't rely on their memory.
If you don't already have an answering machine, you might want to consider getting one. There should always be a way for employers to leave a message if they are trying to contact you. Make sure the message you leave on the answering machine is professional. This is not the time to amuse your callers with your flawless impersonations of Donald Duck or Captain Kirk.
All successful generals know the importance of establishing discipline among their troops. Since you are the "troops" as well as the general, this means exercising self-discipline.
Remember, you are in command of your job search. Nobody will be looking over your shoulder to make sure you follow up on the job lead, or to remind you that tomorrow is the last day you can apply for that job you saw in the paper last week.
What can you do to make sure you don't go AWOL from your own job search? Here are a few suggestions:
Create and keep a regular schedule. You'll find it easy to spend the afternoon watching soap operas or your favorite talk show if you don't have a job-hunting routine. Give yourself something definite to do. Check out our sample schedule for some ideas.
Spend as many hours each day looking for work as you would spend working for your employer. This might sound crazy, but if you are willing to spend 40 hours a week slaving away for somebody else, doesn't it make sense to do the same for yourself?
Develop a budget. This may be hard to do since you can't know for sure how long it will be until you find employment. One approach you can take is to determine your minimum budget. This means figuring out the minimum amount of money you need to spend on the essentials. You will also want to leave a little leeway for unforeseen expenses that will crop up.
Once you have determined your expenses, the next step is to identify your sources of funds. How much money do you have saved up? What sources of income will you have during your job search period? Is there anything that you can do to make money while you continue to look for work? (Work part-time, babysit, mow lawns, etc.).