Pamela Gordon sent her résumé to 9 different job postings and got no results. Some of the jobs were for administrative assistant, one was as a marketing coordinator, and another was for a project manager. In a few of the applications, she attached a standard cover letter, which restated her experiences from her résumé.

As she got more and more anxious – and desperate – Pamela resorted to RAA: Random Acts of Application.

What’s wrong with this picture?

Solution: Before applying to any job, develop a clear – and written – job search goal.

You will be amazed at how valuable this step is to:

  • …write an effective application and cover letter.
  • …find the right jobs to apply to for greater odds of success.
  • …answer the interview question, “What are you looking for?”
  • …interview with passion and commitment.
  • …win a job!

How to narrow down your Job Goal.

1. Do research about occupations, vocations, job functions, job titles, job responsibilities, etc.

  • Visit the US Bureau of Labor Statistics for descriptions and information about hundreds of occupations:
    http://www.bls.gov/ooh/
    http://www.bls.gov/audience/jobseekers.htm
  • Go to job search websites such as Indeed.com, Monster.com, etc. (You can find more here.) Don’t apply to anything! Just shop. Don’t even worry about the city right now. Find 10 positions or job descriptions that you see yourself not only qualified for, but something that gets you excited. Spend hours reading the entire descriptions, including the skills they are looking for, the tasks you would be doing, and what other requirements they need.
  • Print out those 10 positions or job descriptions. Are they all positions that help others (customer service), or that sell something, or that require a lot of analysis? Are they all in big corporations or small start-ups? Circle common keywords.
  • Identify the functions, occupations, or vocations where you can see yourself spending your workday. You will be applying to join a team, even if you are working alone. Where do other people work who are doing what you want to do?
  • If you are searching within your own company, find jobs on their career site and, ultimately, be able to narrow down to specific positions in specific divisions. When internal job seekers came to me for coaching within my own company and said they weren’t sure what they want to do next, I advised them to go and talk to other people about what they did. Ultimately, they should be able to identify positions and name individuals, such as, “I want a job like Mark Smith has.”

2. Read as many books on career selection as you can. Buy, beg, or borrow them! The web has a variety of resources as well. Joe, who didn’t know what he wanted to do next, told me, “It was a copy of What Color Is Your Parachute?by Richard Bolles that saved me. I poured through it and the workbook, completing all the exercises, and it worked.”

My new book, Cut the Crap, Get a Job! A New Job Search Process for a New Era, teaches my revolutionary, step-by-step job search process. When you buy the book for less than $20, you also get the downloadable tools you need to launch your personal search (valued at over $49)!

Whatever it takes, you need to be able to articulate a clear, concise and specific job search goal. Not just so you are grounded, but to share with your network and hiring managers.

Need some advice? Got a specific challenge? Let me give you a hand; I’m ready to help!

Dana