Before you can set achievable goals for your job search, you must know where you currently stand. The best way to assess your position is to step back and critically analyze what the situation is and what you bring to the table.
Grab a sheet of paper and go through the following reality check before creating any goals related to your job search:
List all the skills you have and can bring to the table in a work situation.
These skills may be as basic as typing and as advanced as certain technology, project management, or financial-analysis skills. Don’t discount public speaking, persuasion, or sales skills either. For each skill, consider how many years of practice you have.
If you’re having trouble figuring out what your skills are, head to Onetonline.org and check out the skills inventory.
Don’t stop listing skills until you have at least 20 written down. Yes, 20. Having to think of this many skills forces you to really take into account everything you can do well.
Write down your most noteworthy accomplishments as they relate to your professional career.
Were you ever in the newspaper? Did you ever win an award? These accomplishments are important to celebrate and inventory. Also take into account any personal accomplishments that you’re proud of.
Note your 20 most important professional relationships.
Here you may include former bosses that you still keep in touch with or someone influential you once met. Examine your network and list anyone you know who may have more influence than the ordinary contact.
List all your resources, whether they’re people, groups, or objects.
Think about what’s available to you that can provide you with support. These resources may be groups you’re affiliated with, coaches you use, colleagues, friends, family, or even software you own or subscribe to. Books may be a resource. The local unemployment office may also be a resource.
Evaluate your financial situation.
If you’re unemployed, you want to understand how much time you have before you run out of money. Figure out how much you have in your savings and any secondary sources of income, and then subtract those amounts from your expenses.
Figuring out how long you can pay your current expenses with the money you have available is important. The last thing you need on your mind is the worry of how you’re going to pay your bills. Also think about what expenses you can reduce or eliminate to give yourself an extra month or so.
The goal here is to get to a number, in months or years, of when you’re going to run out of money. Doing so helps you establish a time frame for your most important goal: finding a job.
A recent grad may not have such dire financial concerns and familial responsibilities as a mid-level professional, apart from perhaps paying off some student loans. Loans can be deferred, and if you can give yourself more time for the job search by doing so, then it’s worth it. The freedom from bills can open up new options for you, such as interning or temping, which often lead to full-time employment.
After you write down all these lists, notice two things. First, notice how much support you have behind you. Not only do you have some amazing skills and accomplishments, but you also have people who are willing to come to your aid. Second, you need to understand and know deep-down the kind of value you can bring to an organization.
Confidence is important when you craft your personal brand. For now, use the information you wrote down as the foundation for your goal setting. And ask yourself whether you have enough connections, skills, or resources to get you where you need to go. If not, then your first goal is to get yourself what you need.