Platt Perspective on Business and Technology

Finding your best practices Plan B when your job search isn’t working – part 17, keeping your job search in perspective and making it your own

Posted in job search and career development by Timothy Platt on May 23, 2010

This posting is my 17th installment in a series on developing a more effective Plan B job search (see postings number 56 through 71 for the first 16) and it is my 77th posting in the larger, more inclusive Guide to Effective Job Search and Career Development. It is also a turning point posting where I will be finishing up the Plan B series, at least for now as I prepare to start a successor series on getting off to a better start in a new job.

There are two points I want to cover here, and both tend to be overlooked in other discussions of job search and career development. The first is that while job search may be a distinct and distinctive activity and while a search might take place as a specific clearly defined period in an overall life and work life it is also a part of a larger process of career. And it should be smoothly integrated into that, and supportive of your career as a whole. Most people can expect to have what are in essence a series of careers in their work lives, working in different types of job and frequently in different industries and for different types of business. To clarify what I mean when I use the word career here, I use it to designate the complete flow of a work life and through any and all changes and transitions within it. In this, career is the sum of all work with all of the transitions and changes that includes – and yes with any and all periods of job search included too.

Job search is a part of that and it is a part that with variations will be revisited several or even many times for most of us and even for the best employees who bring the greatest most sustaining value to their work performance. So one of the points I want to cover here is that of continuity and flow, and that you remain up to date on your skills so you can be prepared for the unexpected. Transitions happen, and sometimes they are foreseeable and sometimes they are not.

Keep up with your networking. This, as I will be discussing in future postings can help you advance your career when working as much as it can when you are out of work and searching. And good networking, and being ready with an active network of contacts can greatly reduce a search time if you find yourself looking again – either because you are out of work or while working if you are simply exploring for better opportunities for advancement.

The second point that I would make here is that you make your search your own, and your career your own. The approaches and exercises I have been offering throughout this series and throughout the larger Guide are all tested and validated from real world experience, but simply doing them or any other job search or career related activity is not going to be enough. A career cannot be built and managed on autopilot, at least if you want to reach your true potential and your long term goals, and with any assurance you will not get derailed along the way. That assurance – read risk reduction and remediation in that word, you have to build for yourself and with ongoing planning and execution.

I mentioned networking above, and this is an active follow-through that everyone should do and keep up with. I go back to cite my laws and rules for good, effective networking here and recommend that you review the postings listed on that page, starting with the four part Jumpstart Your Networking series as listed there and in the Guide.

But more than that, keep actively looking at your workplace and your career, at the marketplace and for potential routes to advancement. And I go back to the self-assessment exercises of posting 2 in this series. Every year and any time you find yourself facing a potential transition point of any real significance in your career do a quick reality check and ask yourself if you are still looking at the right seven stories and if you read them the same way or with new emphasis and meaning. Review your career pattern exercise and with a focus on the next few years to keep this relevant as you plan and make decisions moving forward.

Job search is hard. It can be the most difficult, challenging phase in a career and it usually is. So keep on top of your career so you can at least limit the likelihood that you find yourself in search again and not of your own choosing. And keep your skills and tools fresh and ready so you can make any search transition easier and briefer next time. Job search is one place where you do not want to have to start from scratch and with no specific direction or momentum.

The next posting I will add to the Guide to Effective Job Search and Career Development will, as I said, continue from here into that new job and on effectively transitioning the new employee probationary period. My goal in that will be to help you develop the tools you need to set yourself up for longer term success in that job and in your career as a whole.

As an exercise for this posting I would ask you to make a list of all of the positive lessons learned from your recent job search and of all of the negatives that you at least ideally learned from in moving forward. Look for patterns and ask yourself if they represent opportunities and issues that may continue through into your next job. Make note of those lessons learned and from both the things that worked and from those that did not. These are your hard-earned lessons and your knowledge resources for effectively making a career.

With that I transition to that next series, and I recommend that those of you still search read this series too, and that those of you who have found that next job come back to review the job search postings too. Ultimately a career is a seamless whole, and even for its apparent discontinuities – if you keep learning and moving forward.

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