Self exploration corresponds to what students of creativity term the stage of "immersion". Creativity begins when the creator becomes involved intellectually and emotionally with a project or problem. Reading, note taking, and interviewing may, for example, be the first step in creating a research report. Through these activities, the creator gathers information and becomes immersed in bringing this information to bear on a problem, product, or project.
Many people are tempted to begin a job search by revising their resumes, which may mean little more than adding a description of a current job. Relatively few people perform a thorough, systematic review of their careers as preparation for writing a resume. Yet, this review is what immerses you in your problem or project, which is, yourself and your vocational future.
Trying to revise a resume without reviewing your career is like trying to prepare your income taxes without first reviewing your records and receipts. If you haven't reviewed your career in writing within the last three years, you should do so before trying to revise your resume. Provide more specific suggestions and exercises to guide you through the process of exploring yourself in relation to your career. Going through this process will enable you to create a stronger resume while preparing you to identify appropriate employment objectives and to pursue them wholeheartedly.
Step 2: Define Objectives
Drawing again on the analogy of a journey, you need to have a sense of where you want to go before you can figure out a good way to get there. The self exploration of Step 1 should provide a great deal of information about what you do well and want from life. Where you want to go will also depend on factors external to your own desires and preferences. You will need to consider economic and social trends to determine what kinds of jobs can be found (or made) where. Family and friends, too, may figure prominently in setting objectives.
You should consider both long term and short term objectives as you think about your destination, and you should also consider your priorities. You may have as one objective "making at least five thousand dollars more a year" in your next job. You may also have "moving to a rural area" as an objective. But you may find that you can't reach both these objectives in your next career move. If this happens, you need a way to determine which objective is more important to you now and to make a career decision that doesn't simply discard one objective to meet the other. With clear thought and careful planning, you will probably be able to reach both objectives, even though you may not be able to meet both of them in your next career move. Identify your objectives systematically and explore alternative paths to reaching them.
Step 3: Document Your Abilities
Once you have explored yourself and set some objectives even tentative objectives you are ready to begin working on how to communicate your abilities and objectives to people you will meet during your journey to new employment.
A resume generally serves as your introduction to organizations and helps you secure both informational interviews and job interviews. A resume allows you to communicate efficiently about your abilities and objectives, and the process of constructing one helps you refine your sense of who you are and where you're headed vocationally. Work on guidelines for evaluating and revising this important document.
Step 4: Gather Information
Composing good cover letters to accompany your resume will require you to start work on Step 4 gathering information about organizations and people because the most effective cover letters sound personal and discuss your background specifically in relation to a particular organization.
Many folks shortchange the step of information gathering during job searches and career transitions. But if you research organizations, people, and trends, you will generally enjoy the job search more, generate more interviews, and have a higher ratio of offers to interviews than if you try to sell yourself to any and all buyers. A product that has some appeal to everyone will probably have great appeal to no one in particular. Trying to get a job without doing the appropriate research is like trying to sell a product without finding out about potential buyers.
Remember, too, that you aren't an inexpensive, throw away product. You represent a long term investment of many thousands of dollars. It pays for you to learn as much as you can about potential investors, both so that you can formulate a strong selling strategy and so that you don't sell yourself to the wrong investors.
Step 5: Get Interviews
Interviews play a key role in most hiring decisions. You can't get a job offer without getting interviews. Though experts give varying opinions on how to work the averages, you should plan on generating at most a single job offer for every 10 to 15 initial interviews. Your actual average may be considerably higher or significantly lower, depending on your particular situation and aspirations, but you should always plan on having several interviews with several organizations before moving into a new job.
Getting 10 to 15 people to agree to see you for a half hour or more about jobs takes a considerable amount of effort. Once you have created resumes, gathered information, and written strong cover letters, you need to make plans for following up with phone calls at the appropriate times and to prepare for some preliminary interviewing over the phone. Getting interviews depends not only on how well you perform the first four steps, but also on how well you manage the process of distributing your credentials and following up on them afterwards.
Step 6: Turn Interviews into Job Offers
Just because you can generate job interviews doesn't mean you will receive job offers. Every good salesperson knows that there's a big difference between a curious shopper and a committed customer. In an interview, you will try to bring a shopper closer to becoming a customer while also determining to what extent you want to cultivate the particular account.
You don't want to alienate unnecessarily any potential customer, but you need to allocate your resources wisely so that you put most where the potential for reward is the highest.
Remember that who is talking to whom when and how largely determines who is hired for what jobs. Decisions about hiring are based largely on interviews, so successful job hunters are those who do well in interviews. The interviewee can influence only a fraction of the variables that determine the outcome of a selection interview, but the variables he or she can influence are very important.
Many people find interviewing to be the most anxiety laden aspect of vocational change. Preparing properly for employment interviews can help reduce anxiety and improve performance. Turning interviews into offers requires proper follow up as well as strong self presentation.
Step 7: Negotiate Terms
In many organizations, where you start in terms of salary, title, benefits, and grade can have a big impact on where you can go and how long it will take you to get there. It pays to negotiate a good package, but to negotiate successfully, you must again invest time in gathering information, planning a strategy, and improving your communication skills.