How Investing An Hour Up Front Can Dramatically Reduce Your Job Search Effort

Pondering a problem
Trying to decide where you want to work next? Being pulled back and forth by conflicting priorities, and chasing dozens of potential leads, and the faster you go, the more you end up nowhere?

One of the components of the Portable You approach to career and job search is Effort. Effort needs to be balanced, and nobody want their job search to be full of fruitless efforts. This said, job search tends to hijack our emotions, and then our brains can’t work for us. We can become involved in a tornado of effort and emotion, that gives us no help and no direction.

Here’s a decision-making tool you can use to put your brain back in control of the process.

The “KT” Tool 
The KT tool is adapted from Kepner-Tregoe’s Problem Solving and Decision Making course (aka “the KT course”). All you need use it is a piece of paper, a pen or pencil, and a willingness to brainstorm with yourself.

Create the Want List
Without thinking of any particular job AND without considering the current market, write down as they occur to you, your requirements for any job you would consider taking – a want list. For this first pass, try to get between 12 and 24 wants. I recommend you use a pencil or pen rather than the computer at this stage. Writing something down engages other parts of our brains, which you need to have active when you’re looking for work.

Some of your Wants might include:
– full-time / part-time no more than 25 hours a week
– in my current city
– pay $50K or better
– no shift work
– benefits
– working / not working with people
– public sector- employee/contract work
– supervisory / not supervisory
– customer-facing
– friendly atmosphere
– current subject-matter area (e.g., HR) / new subject-matter area (specify) (e.g., health)

Identify the Musts
Which of these wants is an absolute Must; that is, if this given requirement is not in the job, you will immediately discontinue considering it? Circle the Musts. Hint: If more than a quarter of your Wants become Musts, or you have no Musts, or your selected Musts rule out the job you are currently doing, you may need to do more thinking. Test to make sure you are being as objective as you can, and ruthlessly honest with yourself.

Rank the Wants
Rank the remaining requirements, your Want list, as High, Middle or Low. High means you really would much prefer this requirement were met. Low means “Would be nice, but I can live without it.”

Test and Run
At this point, I like to rewrite my list in two columns. The left one has the Musts and the right-hand one has the Wants, with the high Wants at the top, and low Wants near the bottom. You can use the computer to type the list at this point.

Test how real your Musts and Wants are by finding someone to whom you can express them out loud. This could be a friend, spouse, or career counsellor, or all three. Just as writing your requirements down makes them more available to your conscious and subconscious mind; so too, saying what you want out loud starts to make what you want, real.

Now evaluate your current job against the Musts and Wants. Next, test them against the next job opportunity that comes your way. If the opportunity does not meet a Must, you must exclude that opportunity from further consideration, or you must move the Must into the Want column. As you test your criteria, you may find yourself moving items between the Must and Want lists, and sometimes changing the ranking of some of your Wants. That’s Ok.

Now whenever you read a job ad or consider an opportunity, measure it against your criteria, Musts first, and – provided the job meets all your Musts – Wants second.

Once you have assessed a job opportunity as meeting your Musts (and an adequate number of your Wants), then turn and evaluate your experience and skills in terms of the employer’s requirements.

If the job looks like a good match for your skills and experience, and the job “feels right” (you can bring in emotion now), go tailor your resume ( use some of the tips provided in No Response During Your Job  Search) and apply!


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One Response to How Investing An Hour Up Front Can Dramatically Reduce Your Job Search Effort

  1. Pingback: Career Development Carnival: December 2013

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