Whether you are looking for a job, planning to go back to school, or trying to achieve any objective, start with a piece of paper – write it down. State your goal simply and clearly. Follow up with a plan to achieve the goal that includes a timeline and, if possible, a deadline.
Some quests do not have easy paths to an end. Some of my clients have gotten jobs in a few weeks or months. Others have struggled for a longer time. There is no easy or average path to finding a job. The person looking for a job does not control the final outcome. However, she does control how she looks for work and approaches potential employers.
To borrow from Stephen Covey (The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People), it is important to be proactive and “begin with the end in mind,” which are Covey’s first two habits. People who know where they want to end up and work hard toward that goal are more likely to get there than those who wait for success to find them.
A good example of what not to do (or only do) is job posting. If a job seeker just posts her resume on job boards and waits, she is not being proactive. Do some people find jobs this way? Sure. Some people win the lottery too. A good job search means that you keep finding new ways to open doors. Network. Respond to job postings. Target specific companies. Apply for temp-full time positions. Volunteer for an organization that needs your professional skills. While your ultimate goal is to find a job, your short term goals are to find new ways to contact employers and generate interest in you as a candidate.
Goals motivate us to succeed. They offer an end point, which lets us draw a map that will guide us to the end. We have to do the work to get what we want.