Your Job Search As A Professional Project
Finding your next job can be hard & messy. Applying tens or even hundreds of times, hearing back from some, tracking responses and sending replies ... It can quickly become overwhelming. To succeed in such an environment, you should first of all scale things down. Do less, not more, but with a heightened sense of focus. Quality over quantity, as I've called it elsewhere. But still, it's not easy to keep a high-level view of what needs to happen and when, so that you don't get lost. That's why it's a good idea to treat your job search as a project.
A project may sound complicated, but it's really quite straightforward! That's why I wrote this post: so that you can use proven concepts in your job search process and get more success as a result. Bringing you one step closer to your dream job in the Netherlands.
Some people may think that treating your job seeking activities as a project may overdo it, that it's too much effort for what you get out of it. But I disagree! It's actually the fastest way to get the job. Using this technique, I've helped a lot of expats find their next English speaking professional job in the Netherlands within 2 to 4 months.
What is a professional project in this context?
Projects in the professional, corporate world require a few things to succeed. They need a strategy, a logical sequence of steps & actions, clear milestones & timelines, as well as risk mitigation. Similarly, your job search needs to have similar elements in order to really maximize your chances of landing not just any job, but the one that you really want. So that you can build a fulfilling career with good benefits, interesting work, and meaningful relationships.
Job Search Strategy
At a high level, we should know our objective as well as the path towards that goal. Start by finding a job you really like and truly understand its job description. This will help you to know if the job is right for you, whether you stand a chance, what companies are looking for in candidates, what language they use, and how you can beat automated human resources systems.
With this in hand, you can now start designing a strategy for landing your dream job. What personal brand matches these jobs? Can you present yourself in such a way? Do you want to present yourself in such a way? What could differentiate yourself from competition? What would make you stand out? Think about what makes you extraordinary.
You can also think about timelines. When does the company want to fill its vacancy? Does this line up with your abilities & desires? How will you manage your time, and keep track of replies? Personally, I use project management software to do this with the people I coach, but a simple Excel list could also work fine.
Job seeking steps & actions
Think about the steps that you need to complete in order to successfully get the job that you want. You can find these in more detail in my e-book "5 steps to help you land your dream job." In short, you want to:
Re-position yourself in the job market
Make sure your personal brand lines up with what companies look for
Verify that your job search fundamentals are correct, such as having a strong CV (resume) and cover letter
Perform well in your first interviews. Keep in mind this starts from the very first moment of contact!
Excel after the interview as well.
These steps may seem obvious, but most candidates get a little bit sloppy on one of them. And that's often enough to not get through to the next round.
Understanding these steps well is important in dealing with your job search as a project. You want to use KPIs (key performance indicators) and see where you can improve, rather than blaming outside forces. A good way to start using KPIs is to track the big milestones in your job search project, which brings us to the next topic.
Milestones, timelines & deliverables
If you think about it, what are the big moments in your job seeking process? And how much time passes between each step? Of course, this varies somewhat from company to company, and from industry to industry. But still, we can think of some things that most have in common.
First, companies often put out a job description to signal that they're looking for new candidates. They then typically accept CV submissions until some time. Most often a few weeks after the posting date. You want to tailor your CV to a large extent, meaning that you should make your CV fit the job description without being untruthful about your experiences. Try setting aside enough time to repeat this process for a reasonable amount of jobs.
If you do this step correctly, some companies of those that you applied to will come back to you, often with a phone screening call with someone from HR. Present yourself well, be authentic and remember what the company is looking for to highlight the right things. If successful, you will move to the first, then second, then third, etc., job interview. After these steps, you'll get an offer if successful.
How long does this entire process last? With my coachees and my help, it often takes between 2 to 4 months to land their dream job from the moment that they first start applying.
You can keep track of this by making a list of all the companies you want to apply for, and then making sure you proceed to the next step of the process at the right time. So if you want to have a job in 4 months, it's best to start very quickly with sending actual job applications out, for example.
Every project has risks associated with it. This is also true for job seeking.
The biggest risk that I see with the people I work with is that they feel like the job search is too hard or, relatedly, that they lose confidence in their job search.
It's understandable, because it can be very frustrating to receive rejection after rejection. You start feeling self-doubt and start questioning your abilities. But this is not fair. You are special and a great person with great capabilities. We all have our struggles and problems, but working through them can be a source of great fulfilment.
The most important thing you can do to mitigate risk is to stay positive. That can be very difficult to do all by yourself, so seek out friends, family or a life-changing coach to help you out.
Job search can be exhausting and messy. You want to treat your search as a corporate, professional project where you understand all the high level processes and track every step. You can then use KPIs to stay on top of your improvement areas, so that you know what to do to land your dream job. Stay calm, positive, and consider what steps to take next. Seek help where possible and avoid the risk of dragging yourself down. You can do it!!