Your Life Dictates Your Job Search, Not the Reverse
If you’ve picked up this book, you are looking for a job. You might be launching a job search at this exact moment for many reasons:
You are a student:
- You are a student who is graduating into the workforce full time.
- You are a student looking for an internship for next semester or the summer.
You have experience:
- You lost your job or took time off and are looking to reenter the workforce.
- You have a job but want to move into a different industry or have a different role.
- You want to relocate, and your current employer doesn’t have an office where you will be moving.
The reason you are looking for a job is important because it changes what you need to find in your next job, as illustrated in Table 1.1 “Reasons You Are Looking for a Job”.
Table 1.1 Reasons You Are Looking for a Job
|Why You Are Looking||What You Need from Your Next Job|
|Student: Graduating from school||
|Student: Looking for an internship||
|Experienced candidate: Returning to workforce||
|Experienced candidate: Changing careers||
|Experienced candidate: Relocating||
Why you look for a job also influences the constraints you face when you look:
Timing and deadlines. On one extreme, you have the internship search with a tight, inflexible time frame. If you need an internship for credit next semester, you either get the job by the time of registration or do not. You may need to relocate by a certain date. Your savings may be running out, so you may need to return to the workforce within a definite timetable.
On the other hand, you may have a job that is secure, so you can take your time with your search. You may be an ambitious freshman or sophomore with several years before you graduate and need that full-time job.
Access to resources. When you are in school, you most likely have a dedicated career services office. If you have graduated and have been out of the workforce for some time, you may have little contact with a professional network or support system. You can join an industry association, participate in networking groups, or hire a career coach to help you create that professional network and support system. Your options for job search support will be different depending on where you live and how much you can invest in your search. People in busy urban areas can more easily find a chapter of a professional organization that matches their interests, like-minded people with whom to network, and career coaches and other professional support resources for hire. In a less-populated geography, you may have to rely on virtual access to professional organizations, networks, and resources. Similarly, your level of financial investment dictates which and how many organizations and networks you can join and what outside resources you can hire. Free or low-cost guidance is available from alumni associations, government agencies focused on workforce issues, and online job boards or career sites that offer guidance and expertise.
Emotional constraints. Certain industries, such as banking and consulting, have very regimented and competitive campus recruiting seasons. Pressure is high as soon as you hit the campus. Someone returning to the workforce after a gap may feel more anxiety or fear than a job seeker with continuous employment. A career changer may feel frustrated at having to break through to a new industry or function. Table 1.2 “Job Search Considerations” summarizes each of these considerations as it applies both to students and experienced candidates.
Table 1.2 Job Search Considerations
|Timing and deadlines||
Internships have tight deadlines that must be adhered to, often with no room for vacation days or personal plans
You may have to relocate for your internship, which can conflict with dorm room requirements
Your savings may dictate that you find a summer job, versus an internship, especially if that internship is nonpaid (you may or may not receive school credit)
On the other hand, you may be a student who has a financial cushion, and you need not rush into a job just for the compensation it provides
When reentering the workforce, having as few gaps as possible is helpful and requires less explaining and messaging
Relocating adds time to a job search, in addition to expense. Traveling to the desired location is both time consuming and expensive
Savings may dictate the length of your search and when timing is tight, you may have fewer options to consider
Candidates should always consider their “financial cushion,” which can provide more options in a search
|Access to resources||
When in school, you have access to career services, which can function as a career coach of sorts
Perhaps your school does not have extensive career services offerings. Perhaps it’s best to enlist the services of a professional career coach
Investing in a career coach may yield exceptional results that can be paid for using a fraction of your first paycheck
Where you live and how much you choose to invest change your options for job search guidance. Metro areas are more likely to have professional associations and networking groups in your area of interest
Free or low-cost guidance is available from alumni associations, government agencies focused on workforce issues, and online job boards or career sites that offer guidance and expertise
Certain industries have inflexible time constraints (e.g., investment banking, management consulting), so the time pressure is significant
Other industries are more flexible and hire throughout the year (e.g., media, communications, technology), but there is still the pressure of networking events, interviews, and follow-ups
Some industries (e.g., education, health care) may not come on campus at all, so you would have to manage the entire calendar yourself
When seeking to reenter the workforce, you need to craft a message to explain timing and reasons, which can sometimes be emotional. Harnessing emotion can help develop rapport but it also needs to be balanced with remaining professional
Career changers can feel a great amount of frustration trying to break into a new area
It is important that you understand your life situation and how it might influence your search before you begin any job search. The mechanics of a job search are similar across the different scenarios, and we begin the six-step job search process in the next chapter. In this chapter, we outline the impact of your life situation on your job search:
- How your job search changes depending on your specific life situation
- How you can maximize your inherent advantages
- How you can minimize any constraints
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