Job Search Management 101
Job seekers often tell me that they have the skills for the job they want, but they don’t have the skills to conduct an effective job search. I find that interesting because so many of them have been exposed to concepts within their former companies that could provide them with good tools if they just knew how to transfer them to their job search/career.
The project management concept is one of those tools.
What Job Search Management Can Learn From Project Management
Spend a little time in the corporate world, in almost any industry, and you are bound to run into project management in one form or another. In fact, it is so pervasive that it comes complete with its own list of buzzwords and certifications: Six Sigma, development lifecycles, scope/requirements, quality assurance/testing, Green Belts, Black Belts, PMPs, PMOs, Waterfall, and so on. Just think about it: All of this relatively “new” terminology for a concept that’s anything but new: how to manage a project.
Separating Winners and Losers
The reason “project management” has taken on such a level of importance within most companies, even warranting its own department or division, in many cases, is because organizations now understand just how vital the rollout of a new product, service, or system is … and that you rarely get more than one chance to get it right (not to mention the significant cost involved in failure). See, you can have the right skill sets, resources, and innovation, but if you can’t bring it to market in a way that is clear, consistent, and backed with high quality, in the end, all you have are tools.
Therefore, what makes project management so powerful is that, when done right, it can mean success, whereas when done wrong, well, no one can afford to let that happen (or at least they shouldn’t)!
The Job Search Management Lifecycle
Just begin to think of your job search as a “project” that you need to move through the essential phases of the project lifecycle: initiate, plan, execute, and close:
Initiation: Start by establishing your scope and requirements. You need to have a clear target so that you can have a “target market.” You also need to build your “project team,” those resources and network connections that will be the best assets to you. Take an honest assessment of your strengths (such as networking) and weaknesses (such as organizing!) and figure out who/what can help you overcome those weaknesses.
Planning: Now it’s time to set realistic goals (daily, weekly, monthly) and even a budget (a quality job search will involve some cost). It’s also a good idea to have an accountability partner or mentor that you can “report” your progress to along the way. Think of it as part of your “quality assurance.”
Execution: Once you’ve properly prepared, you are ready to set things in motion. Tap into your project team and begin to roll out your clear, consistent “brand” across both traditional and social media. Keep an eye on your goals and try to limit the “scope creep” that inevitably tries to worm its way in.
Closure: Congratulations! You’ve made it to the end of your search, but before you abandon this project, don’t forget to give it the proper closure. Acknowledge your project team, keep in touch with your network connections (especially those new ones you developed along the way), and make sure to keep your “documentation” current (your LinkedIn bio, social media profiles, and resume).
So the next time you start to feel overwhelmed by the prospect of conducting another job search, remember that you probably have more skills and concepts available than you realize. Job search management, just like project management, isn’t really anything new, but how well you roll it out can make all the difference.
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