How To Be More Purposeful With Your Job Search


By Annette Filler, Next Steps Canada

You’ve arrived at a very exciting crossroads in your life as you transition from student to someone entering the workforce and pursing a career.

With all those years of study, taking exams and pulling all-nighters a recent memory, you are ready to enter the working world, which offers a wealth of opportunities, potential for professional and personal growth, and – most importantly – getting paid.

Transitioning between graduation and full-time employment can be daunting.  One of the biggest challenges new graduates face is deciding which career direction to pursue.

With literally mountains of career information and advice in front of you, navigating through all this can often be confusing and overwhelming.  What many new graduates lack is experience in searching for jobs and all its aspects, from writing resumes and cover letters, to networking and negotiating job offers.

At Next Steps Canada, we work with recent graduates and help them set a plan in motion as well as  help them execute and succeed in finding a job that will enable them to leverage their education and interests.  Sounds ideal…

Generating resume after resume and responding to every job ad you see can be a waste of time for you and for the individuals who have to read your submission.   The more purposeful you are with your search the better the response you will receive.

What does it mean to be purposeful with your search when your primary purpose is to find a job?

Here are five tips to making your job search more purposeful. Following these tips will lead to an ideal or closer to ideal outcome.

Get yourself organized for your job search

Your job search should be treated as a full-time job.  Each morning you should have a routine in which you organize your job search time and your leisure time.  Set goals for each week.  For example, target 10 new companies, send out 10 resumes and network with five new individuals.

Set goals

For a few very fortunate people, finding the right job or career is a matter of luck.  For the rest of us who don’t wake up one day to our dream jobs, getting into the right career takes planning.

A major part of that planning involves establishing and working to achieve career goals.  Your career goals should take into account your ambitions, interests, preferences, values and aptitudes.  Realistic career goals are based on an understanding of your strengths and weaknesses, and an understanding of the current and potential market place.

Know your personal value proposition (PVP)

Your PVP is why an employer should hire you or promote you over someone else.   Your first step in developing a strong value proposition is self-appraisal to assess your strengths.

Start by listing your strengths, especially those that are related to a specific job you are interested in.  What concrete skills and knowledge have you acquired?  What are you best at?  Ask for input from others.

Target your efforts

The purpose here is NOT to target hundreds of companies, then aim a social media campaign at them and hope someone shows interest in you. Rather, it is to be constantly trying to identify organizations that might interest you as a potential employer and then attempt to network into the organization directly.

Review, revise, persevere

For most job seekers, the search process for your first job is more like a marathon than a sprint – be prepared for ups and downs.  On a regular basis, review your progress, activity level and results, and decide if you need to adjust your strategy or increase your activity level.

If you follow these steps, your job search will be more purposeful, and less incidental and hopeful.  Your resume will be written to reflect your goals, personal value proposition, and an understanding of what the market and a specific organization is looking for.

Your search will be targeted to companies that are of interest because you have researched the industry and the company before applying.  Your likelihood to make it to the top of the applicant pile will increase exponentially and now it’s up to you to sell yourself in an interview and look forward to your first job on the road to achieving your career goals.

Annette Filler is Managing Partner of Next Steps Canada. Next Steps Canada Career Pursuit is specifically designed and developed to provide recent graduates with focus and direction, useful tools, personal advice and an experienced sounding board to help determine the necessary first steps needed to complete a comprehensive job search and initiate a successful career path.

Photo credit: Nasir Nasrallah