It is challenging enough to land a “good” new job in normal circumstances, let alone when COVID-19 is messing things up. Luckily, we can finally see some light at the end of the tunnel. Most have applied for a job, taken part in interviews, and got a job, so landing a new job should be a piece of cake. But, when you are neck-deep in an active career change process, the world suddenly looks different, things are no more as clear as they seemed a moment ago. Few of us knows everything about recruiting and job search, and if years have passed since the last time we changed jobs, our job searching skills may have got rusty. Where can we find the means and advice to help us get where we want?

There is no shortage of information, advice, or advisors. The Internet and various media are full of them. Many also offer personal consultation help. All this is good. We are not all top-level job search or interview professionals, or CV writing masters, and it is always worthwhile sparring with and listening to others. Most of the “advisors”, (of which I am one) genuinely strive to help and be useful, but that said, we should always exercise caution. You should not headlong follow every advice you hear or see. Even all the “good advice” does not suit everyone, and not all advice is good advice. You must not be a top recruiting expert to separate the wheat from the chaff. Check out “the advisor”. Does the advisor look like knowing what he/she is talking about and does his/her motives feel sound?  Already common sense takes you a long way here.

Most projects require an action plan before starting. This also applies to job search. A job search process contains numerous factors that can either enable or hinder a career move. Many may go unnoticed, simply because one is not aware of their importance or even existence. A job search action plan is a detailed written to-do list that contains all the dos and don’ts, including milestones and checkboxes, and helps to remember, pay attention to, and do things right. When you first make an action plan, it is also much easier to look for information and advice, because now you have a better understanding of where you might need help.

A job search can be very time consuming and challenging, with numerous interviews and “second places”. During my career, I took part in over 1 000 executive search assignments. Very often there were four excellent finalist candidates on the home stretch. Whom all performed well in the finalist interview, so their interview performance did not impact the winning candidate’s choice. In practice, only one candidate could be selected, though. Like in 100 meters running final, the difference between the winner and the second position was hair thin. In my mind, reaching the finalist interviews is a good performance and indicates your professional expertise is appreciated – reaching the second position is an outstanding performance, even though it might not feel like it at the moment. A well-made action plan can give you the comfort of knowing you did your best. Knowing this, you do not perhaps spend too much time grieving about your second position, because, deep inside, you know you performed well and can faster move on to the next competition. You cannot win all competitions, but you can one day be the winner if you get to the finals often enough. It might just be that it is your action plan that gets you to interviews and finals.

Many write good CVs and cover letters. People usually inform some headhunters that they are available and start following “open job” advertisements in newspapers, social media etc. And then, if nothing happens, they wait. I feel this is leaving what happens to chance. If no-one “comes knocking at your door” you must be active and go knocking on doors yourself. A well-made action plan forces you to look at things thoroughly, from many perspectives and gives information, ideas, opportunities, spin-offs you otherwise might miss. A good action plan also tells which doors to knock on and how.

If you never get to a final or even interview or always get to the final, but never win, an action plan helps to analyse why so? Is there perhaps something I do wrong, where can I improve? E.g:

  • I am very active and send hundreds of applications, but nothing happens, what is wrong?  Do I maybe always send my applications to companies looking for something entirely different from what I represent? Is there perhaps something I do not understand here?
  • I am very active and send hundreds of applications, but nothing happens, what is wrong? Do I perhaps apply for jobs (and companies), for which everybody else is also applying, where there are always 500+ applicants? If so, do I believe I am good enough to win them all or do I always join competitions I cannot win?  Might I be more successful somewhere else, where?
  • I often get to an interview, but never further, why so? Do I perhaps not correspond to the hiring manager’s pre-expectations from my cover letter and CV? Can anyone help me here?
  • In interviews, do I too strongly emphasize skills I do not have or am I perhaps too modest and stop short of telling about all my skills? Who could help me out here?
  • Do I perhaps prepare too well to interviews, not acting spontaneously anymore, which leads me to overact and mess up my interview performance? If so, how can I correct this?
  • Do I perhaps have a poor idea what kind of a job I want to land, and just send out applications everywhere on random, hoping something will catch. How can I find the job of my liking?

We all have question marks, and there can be many. A well-made action plan helps to find the right questions/answers, correct mistakes and remove obstacles in a challenging job search process.

Lastly, a piece of advice. Do not pay much attention to what other people think of your career moves or what kind of career moves others make. We all have our starting point and dreams, so everyone’s motives are different.

  • Some are in it because they like this job.
  • Some for the big money or fame and glory.
  • Some because this is what my dad, mom or wife/husband wants me to do.
  • Some because this is what all my friends do.
  • Some because they think woman/men feel this is a sexy job.
  • Some were offered the job and decided to give it a try.
  • Some do not have a choice, there are no other jobs available.
  • Some just get food on the table; their real passion is elsewhere.
  • Some decided to start somewhere and see where it takes them.
  • Some do not have a clue.

There are as many motives as people, and they are all “equally good”. No matter what you do, there is always someone who does not approve. Forget these people and focus on the very person whose career dreams are important for you – yourself. When you are happy with your life, you have a better chance of making those around you happy.

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