Since 1981 I have worked with thousands of candidates and hiring managers in my recruitment consulting business. Recently I've also been one of the organizers of the Park City Career Network, working primarily with unemployed professionals. Since August 2009 we have helped 57 members find jobs.
Unfortunately few candidates who ask for my career counseling advice know how to set goals for their job search.
In today's world, few people are taught the steps of setting goals. We are told that setting goals is important, but we're not given much in the way of instruction. Some people may not be interested in a sales position and feel that setting goals belongs only in sales. Many candidates do not understand that the job search is a sales process -- and needs to be treated as such. Candidates are selling their most important product/service -- themselves!
What is the first tool that a sharp sales organization teaches new sales professionals? How to set goals. Why? They can practice using goal setting through the balance of their training.
Since the job search is a sales process, one of the first tools that a job seeker needs to learn is how to set goals (valuable in all areas of life!).
While writing RecruiterGuy's Guide to Finding a Job last year, I created the acronym SCAMPS as a way to remember the steps in goal setting. Learning SCAMPS will help you remember all of the steps of goal setting – and since they are integrated, you need to employ all of the steps.
S for specific: Your goal needs to be specific. When setting a goal you must be able to visualize yourself successfully attaining the goal. When you picture success often, you believe you will be successful. Picture yourself working in a particular environment. Be as specific as you can. If you want to change careers, research the environment in your new job. Then picture yourself doing the work, contributing in meetings, and enjoying yourself (that's important!).
C for challenging: When a goal is challenging, you are excited about reaching your goal. Combined with the visualization of success, a challenging goal motivates you to success.
A for attainable: Possibly one of a person's biggest mistakes when setting a goal is to make it so exciting and challenging, it is not attainable. Therefore you know it cannot be reached. For instance, let's say your goal is to make a million dollars in the next three months. If you normally make several thousand dollars over those months, and are not doing something differently, you may be able to kid yourself for a while. Eventually you come to the realization that your goal is impossible to reach and will stop working toward it.
It is important to create a plan to meet your goal. Then determine if it is realistic. For instance, if you are looking for a retail job, you may be able to find one in a week of concentrated search. If you are looking for an executive position, it will probably take longer than a week.
M for measurable: While you are creating your plan, it is important to include metrics so that you may measure your progress. For instance, if you network with four new people per day, the law of averages shows that you will find your next job in three months. If you fall behind in networking and still have the goal of finding a job in three months, you need to spend more time networking and get back on track.
Metrics are also important in helping you determine your averages. How many calls do you make before talking with someone about your skills and experience? How many of those calls result in additional networking contacts? How many of those calls result in interviews? How many interviews result in offers? How many offers until you accept an offer? All of those numbers are important to track so you know you are getting close to receiving an offer that you will accept. I call this "Knowing Your Numbers."
P for public: By Public, make your goal known to people who support your efforts. They will hold you nicely accountable. For instance, they may ask you how you are progressing with your networking. Or their question may be less specific, such as asking you to describe your progress. You can see how visualization and metrics can help you describe your progress to a friend. Additionally, something you say during your conversation may trigger a suggestion by them that will help you move closer to attaining your goal of finding your next job. A new contact name may pop in their head as a result of your conversation.
S for set date: Set a date for completion of your goal. This is one step that most everyone includes, but it may not be attainable. Without the important metrics, it is meaningless. You need to know your progress and whether you need to step up your efforts. Once you establish your plan and create metrics, setting a final date is similar to polishing up your goal. Work backward with the metrics of activity you will commit to completing on a daily basis. How many networking calls per day/week/month? Remember, last year approximately 76 percent of all jobs were filled through networking.
Now that you have established a path for finding a job that will be exciting and satisfying for you. Track your performance daily. Treat your search as a sales process and as a job itself. Do not kid yourself by posting to Internet sites and praying that you will hear from them. Once you determine that a company is one where you want to work, find a way to network your way into an interview – and then complete the application online.
Remember – jobs are created in every community daily. People are fired, laid off, become ill, or even pass away. You simply need to find one right job, not a million jobs. Go find it. Good luck!
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