Knowing yourself helps to narrow your job hunt
Before You Hunt for a Job
by Gary Foreman
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Dear Dollar Stretcher,
I'm worried about losing my job. They've been cutting back our hours and things just don't look good. I'd like to find a new job before this place goes down the tubes, but I haven't looked for a job in years. I know that there are all kinds of job sites available, but what else should I consider? When I find a job I like to keep it so this is an important decision for me.
Currently Employed Colby
Colby, you're wise to hunt for a job before you lose one. I don't know if the facts support it, but there does seem to be truth to the old saying that it's easier to find a job when you have one.
You're not alone in considering a job hunt. A report from Metlife.com found that about 1/3 of surveyed employees hope to have a different job within a year. (source: Metlife 2011 9th annual study of employee benefits trends: A blueprint for the new benefits economy)
And, the number of people dissatisfied with their jobs appears to be increasing. The Society for Human Resource Management survey found that the percentage of unhappy employees has been rising since 2009. Like you, people are reacting to job uncertainty by hunting for new jobs.
So how can you find a new job that's perfect for you? Begin with some of the many job sites on the web. You might begin with an article we ran on "16 Totally Free Job Sites You Need to Know About".
But today we're not going to focus on how to do resumes or network to hunt for job openings. Let's look a little deeper and see if we can't help you decide what type of job, company and career you should be pursuing. Rather than sending out thousands of electronic resumes, we'll try to narrow your search so that your efforts become focused.
Begin with some self-examination. That's something that most of us are too busy to do regularly. But, it's important if you want to change jobs/careers. Take a few evenings to think about you. What are you good at? Bad at? What things do you like or dislike? What things get you excited? How do friends and family think of you? What events in your life were really important? And, what do they tell you about yourself?
Spend some time alone with these questions. Write your answers down. That will force you to dig a little deeper for your answers. After you've finished the self-examination ask some close friends or family to answer the same questions for you. Often they'll see things that we can't see about ourselves.
Armed with this self-knowledge, the next step is to do a little dreaming. Think about what your perfect job would look like. Don't make it practical. If your dream has you showing up at noon so you can sleep in, that's fine. If it means the you take your netbook to the beach and work from there, that's fine, too. This is a time to be unrealistic. Think big and bold!
Obviously, you won't expect to find a job that looks exactly like your dream. But you may find that certain jobs/professions share elements with your perfect job. Wherever possible, you'll want to choose potential jobs that include some of your dream ideas.
Next choose some potential professions to consider. You'll want to take into account some of the personal traits you've discovered, but you'll also need to be practical. This is the time to learn about any long-term trends for the profession. Use the net to research the field. Will there be job opportunities for years to come? Or is it a dying profession? One that's being replaced by robots or computers?
Finally ask yourself if you can picture being in that profession ten or twenty years from now. Will you be able to handle the physical or mental challenges? Or would you be totally bored doing the same things over and over?
You don't want to change jobs or professions only to find out that you've run out of opportunities in a few years. Better to discover that now before you've made the effort to find a good job.
Colby, by blending the practical and ideal you should have a good idea what type of job and company you're looking for. So target your job hunt on those targets. Let others send out thousands of resumes. You focus on the few and take the extra steps to increase your odds of success with them. Don't just send a resume. Send a resume and follow up with a personal call. Use LinkedIn to make friends within the company. Use multiple resources to reach your goal.
Hopefully you'll find a job that suits your skills, provides ample opportunity in a field that can supply a steady income for many years to come.
Updated November 2013
Gary Foreman is a former financial planner and purchasing manager who founded The Dollar Stretcher.com website and newsletters in 1996. He's been featured in MSN Money, Yahoo Finance, Fox Business, The Nightly Business Report, US News Money and CreditCards.com. Gary shares his philosophy of money here. You can follow Gary on Twitter or visit Gary Foreman on Google+. Gary is also available for audio, video or print interviews. For more info see his media page.
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