By Dee Allan

So you’ve fallen out of love with your job and you want to try your hand at something new. Or maybe you feel stuck, or want to build your resume with additional experiences and exposure. Whatever your starting point, here’s a step-by-step guide on how to organize your job search.

Step 1 - Soul-Search Your Gifts

The first step involves getting to know yourself. Give yourself the time to soul-search. If you are not clear on your gifts, you run the risk of targeting or accepting a job that isn’t aligned to your core being.

Answer the below questions before you even start to think about the job you wish to target:

  1. What is your ‘foundational identity’, meaning your fundamental make up? Are you creative, a teacher, a learner, an organizer, a researcher, an adventure seeker, an analyzer? Who are you?
  2. What are your top two interests? Are you interested in world affairs, health, medicine, spirituality, science, food, travel, sports, politics, writing, law, entrepreneurship, art, theatre?
  3. What are you passionate about? One way to arrive at your passions is to deep-dive your interests. For example, if you love the Sciences, you could find that quantum physics in particular gets you excited. Or if you love food, you could find that you are specifically passionate about vegan food.
  4. Which one or two job functions are you good at and interested in? Do you love coaching, data analyzing, cooking, designing, selling, networking etc. Let’s go further by asking yourself two more investigative questions:
  5. WHAT is your purpose in life? Is your purpose spiritual? Mind related? Concerned with the planet? Humanity? Compassion? Improving health? Equality? Animal welfare? Women and children’s rights?
  6. HOW would you like to serve the wider community, humanity, your family, your team or department? For example, would you like to lead an initiative? Project manage a movement? Support a worthy cause? Teach? Mentor a group? Build a project? Bring your creativity to a problem? Share your vision? Operate within a strategic role? Would you like to serve a shared cause? Connect individuals? Use your written or spoken word to spread good?

You can go further with your deep-dive and think about the type of people you like to work with? What does your preferred working environment look and feel like? And what are your strongest traits?

You can find out your top strengths using a free tool at: high5test.com

Step 2 - Linkedin Profile and Resume Fixes

Now you have a clear idea on what your inherent gifts are, you are at the research stage. Your Linkedin profile is a key tool during your job search, possibly more important than your actual resume. Ensure you have a professional image, strong profile description and congruent work history. A complete profile is best; if you leave out information, your profile will easily be missed by recruiters or hiring managers screening you.

The trick here is to carefully consider the keywords that human resource professionals or recruiters may use when searching for candidates in your space. Use these keywords within your text so the search algorithms capture your profile within their search results.

Remember to keep your resume simple, without fancy typography, short (two to four pages), with short paragraphs and succinct bullet points.

Again, scatter keywords in the text particularly at the top near the beginning of your resume to make it algorithm-friendly. The algorithm robots love keywords, so give them the words they want to find and you greatly increase your chances of being shortlisted.

Step 3 - Company/Industry/Contact Search on Linkedin

There are many ways to search for a job online. Broadly speaking, you can use the reactive method, the proactive method or a hybrid of the two methods. Each has it’s own pros and cons, however a proactive method is more likely to land you a role that is aligned to your gifts, while a hybrid method may jump you a few rungs above the shortlist.

Reactive vs Pro-active Job Searching

Reactive job searching is the most common way that candidates go about sourcing a job. You search for online or print adverts and then email your resume across. Then you wait until you get a response.

If you want to lose the competition, supplement your reactive job search efforts with a proactive push, by targeting key decision makers and hiring managers on Linkedin or email, and making an initial enquiry or applying to them directly.

A networking approach is the best way to become ‘acquainted’ with someone. So if you are able to utilize your personal and online network, and get an introduction to your target contact, you have made a huge leap within your job-search process. However, this can take time, which is why I advocate networking as an ongoing life-skill.

During this mapping stage you are making a list of target contacts, who you will later message or call directly. Using Linkedin the Proactive Way Use Linkedin to create a target list of companies and industries. Often our skills can be transferred to another industry we may not have considered. You can use the search and the filter functions to go through all available industries from A-Z.

I recommend targeting two industries to begin with, and then look at companies within those industries that may be of interest.

Another approach is to search for contacts at a particular company who are positioned at a more senior level than your target job, then go through that person’s employment history. This will allow you to see where they have worked before and the career path they took. This approach can produce lots of market intelligence on your own possible career path, companies you have not heard about, and the types of companies that hire people with your skills.

Step 4 - Making Contact

The key here is to make an appropriate approach online, introducing yourself and clearly explaining the reason for your message. You can attach your resume to the message, and finish with a call to action such as requesting a short phone call, meet-up or follow-up.

Cold-calling contacts on Linkedin should be approached with caution, however, so try and find an introduction to the contact, or cite some research you have come across to show your genuine interest in the company/contact.

Headhunter Tip

Headhunters often use Linkedin to get the name of a contact, and then proceed to make a phone call to that person, often skipping the whole Linkedin pre-messaging approach (or sending a pre-message on Linkedin, and then quickly following it up with a phone call).

Don’t be shy about phoning a decision maker or hiring manager. Have your reason for calling and resume in front of you, and speak with confidence. State that you are interested in exploring openings at their company and would welcome any advice on how to progress your application.

Step 5 - Organizing Yourself

If you are following and repeating these steps, and you are constantly networking, you should find your diary filling up with scheduled phone calls, coffee meetings, interviews, events and follow-ups.

Stay organized, and ensure all your actions are followed up with a phone call, thank you email or card, depending on how much time a contact has given you.

This conveyor belt of repetitive actions involving research, mapping contacts, networking, sending messages, and following up will result in leads, contacts and job opportunities.