Step 1: Define your goals precisely
Define your personal goals that you want to reach in your profession. Go beyond just scratching the surface: ask yourself what really motivates you.
What is actually driving me? By what kind of activities do I experience true FLOW? What do I want to achieve by the time I'll be 55? Are these professional goals in accordance with my personal objectives / circumstances?
Important: Don't forget that high commitment can only be achieved by putting down your objectives is writing! And you need this for planning your future as well.
Step 2: Find your personal USP
Before you start to look for new challenges, redefine yourself or start everything over, first define your distinct personal characteristics (USP: uniques selling points). Just like in case of products, you should be in the position to create and communicate your own brand. Because that is how your environment will recognise what you are standing for and where you could be deployed in the future. These unique points mean orientation - both for yourself and for others.
In order to stand out from the crowd, these points should also be tailored to your future (dream) function / industry / company. How can you find your distinct personal characteristics? Best by answering the following questions:
Important questions before a job change:
- Can you list 5 of your strengths?
- Can you list up to ten positive characteristics that describe your personality the best?
- Can you define your 3 biggest weaknesses (frankly) and tell what you do about those?
- Can you mention 3-5 strong arguments why an employer should prefer you (to other applicants) for a job?
- Can you precisely describe (and quantify) the benefits you offer to your future employer?
- Can you mention straight away 3-5 of your success stories from last year, including a short explanation and proof of achievement?
- Can you explain what is attracting you to a new job (not what is moving you away from the old one)?
- Can you describe (in theory) your preferred positions and give reasons why those were optimal fits for you?
- Can you make a perfect plea for yourself about your talents, skills and personal characteristics - a so called elevator pitch - in 60 seconds?
- Can you list ten strategies about how to find a new job?
- And which of those do you actually use?
Step 3: Collect information about your future employer
Now that you exactly know your unique personal characteristics, qualifications, selling arguments, wishes, goals and perspectives, you can start looking for a job - but in a goal-oriented way. Depending on your working experience, you can visit:
- Job exchanges: besides potential open positions, you can find here information about conditions, perspectives within the company offering those jobs, and you can select what is relevant to you.
- Career pages: many companies feature web pages dedicated to potential employees on their website or social network pages, with information relevant to this audience. These resources may help you to get a better understanding of the things learned on the job exchanges. You should especially take the advantage of the interaction options with the employer in order to find out everything that's relevant to you. At the same time, you can make yourself noticed, too.
- Trade directories: in these reference materials you can find potential companies operating in the same industry, looking for information and find out which of those companies could be interesting for you as a future employer.
- Company associations, chambers of commerce: these organisations may provide potential employers and further information about these companies. Besides, you can also build direct connections by these channels.
- Career Services: If you are a student, you have access to the university's carreer advice services including tips about potential employers. They can also recommend you contact partners to answer your questions, as their staff usually have good contacts with employers.
- Agencies / advisors with a specialisation in Sales: Their colleagues know the job market very well and they are aware of which company look for people with a certain qualification.
- Press reports: Media provide background information about interesting companies. First of all: those whose business is flourishing are probably hiring as well...
Step 4: Get in touch
This phase is about getting in contact with your future co-workers or even your boss - as early as possible. Find as many people as you can who are working at your dream company or used to work there. This way you can look behind the scenes and get to know to what extent your expectations were met. The more information you collect about your future employer, the more precise will be the picture about your future work. The following options will help you to obtain more information about the company:
- Job Fairs: You can directly contact company representatives here. Not only you get to know what the company offers, but you can also clarify your options for joining them and run a reality check on your expectations. However, be careful to pay attention to the details and to reading between the lines when speaking to HR officers.
- Social networks: Sites like LinkedIn or Xing offer the possibility to search for former or current employees of interesting companies, to join their network and ask them about working conditions or development opportunities. As people are being by themselves here, communication may be open and straight.
- Alumni-networks: If you are a university graduate, you can also use your contacts from that time. In general, your fellow graduates are happy to share information with your about their current employer. On top of that, you can get free tips (just like on job fairs) whether your expectations could be fulfilled.
- Former colleagues and employer evaluation platforms (for example http://www.kununu.at): Maybe one of your former colleagues works for the company that you are interested in! That person would probably give open and straight answers to your questions.
- Job interviews: Although interviews often represent the last hurdle to be overtaken, you could still use this opportunity to check whether your expectations will be met. If it's not the case, you can still decline - even if the employer offered a position to you.
LINKS to some of the best career sites: