The key takeaway for anyone embarking upon a job search? Understanding the mutual importance of 1) achieving self-awareness, and 2) conducting industry/company research:
Self-awareness enables you to take stock of your key value creating activities and business passions.
Industry/company research enables you to tailor your job search activities in a strategic fashion.
If you know yourself and your target employers well, the likelihood of a good match goes up.
What does it mean to develop a personal career strategy?
Many professionals seek to acquire new knowledge, skills and network contacts so they can create new value and advance in their career. The career motivations of individuals will vary; consider the following definitions:
- A “Career Explorer” is someone who is satisfied with their current pace of career progress, and they are interested in looking at a variety of potential future roles, but they are not necessarily ready to make a change now .
- A “Career Accelerator” is someone who seeks to advance in their current career more quickly than their current pace of advancement.
- A “Career Switcher” is someone who is interested in changing their career.
- An “Entrepreneur/Founder” is someone who is interested in running (or planning to start) their own business.
- A “Retiree” is someone who has reached the “giving back/paying it forward” stage of their career.
A career is a series of jobs or occupations undertaken for a significant period of a person’s working life and with opportunities for progress/advancement.
What books can you recommend before I begin my career planning?
What are the seven steps for developing a personal career strategy?
Consider your interests, skills, values, personality, strengths, passions, and convictions in order to discern and understand what is truly important to you with respect to your career aspirations.
02. Industry/Company Research
Explore a wide range of industries, companies, functional areas, and job roles.
You can review job descriptions on job list sites like linkedin.com, indeed.com, or simplyhired.com in order to get a sense of what is available. But, please understand that jobs that are advertised online routinely receive hundreds of applications. This usually means that the best job opportunities are unadvertised and discovered through your network and/or by working with a professional recruiter.
Ask people within your network, including your Alumni network, if you can shadow them for a day in order to get a realistic preview of various kinds of positions.
03. Focus Your Career Goals
Narrow your focus, and align your skills and interests with likely career paths.
- Getting Unstuck: A Guide to Discovering Your Next Career Path by Timothy Butler. The author is Director of Career Development Programs at Harvard Business School.
- Disrupt Yourself: Putting the Power of Disruptive Innovation to Work by Whitney Johnson. She makes a case for the following seven variables: “take the right risks, play to your distinctive strengths, embrace constraints, battle entitlement, step back to grow, give failure its due, and be discovery driven.”
- The Career Playbook: Essential Advice for Today’s Aspiring Young Professional by James M. Citrin The author of this book spent years as senior partner at Spencer Stuart, an executive search firm.
- MBA Career Bible (“learn how your education and background fit in, with industry overviews, career path information, days in the life and interviews with industry leaders and future leaders…. Once you’ve chosen an industry or two that interest you, the guide has resume tips, cover letter templates and interview advice for you to put your best foot forward. The Vault MBA Career Bible is the complete resources for students and recent grads. Get the edge you need in a competitive hiring environment: insider knowledge.“) by Vault Editors
04. Gap Analysis
Identify gaps in your preparation (skills, knowledge or experience) which you will need to close in order to obtain your desired position. For each gap, identify specific actions you will take to enhance your skills and qualifications.
05. Personal Marketing Plan
Incorporate your self-assessment (Step 1), market research (Step 2), career goals (Step 3), and gap analysis (Step 4) into a plan for action.
- Develop an impactful cover letter and résumé,
- practice your elevator pitch,
- hone your communication and networking skills, and
- prepare a proactive and reactive job-search strategy.