I used to have a love/hate relationship with cooking. Unless it was a recipe that I had made many times before, I found myself struggling with it. Forgetting steps. Not having some ingredients on hand. Despising the prep work involved. Why couldn’t it be as easy as it was for the chefs on TV?
And then it occurred to me — I could make it a lot easier on myself if I made a few changes:
Setting up a weekly menu. Especially when I became a mom, it became glaringly apparent that something needed to change so we weren’t living on a steady diet of mac & cheese and takeout.
Becoming very familiar with the recipes. Instead of whipping out the recipe and stumbling through it, I started reading them from start to finish a few times over. This helped me gain a better understanding of the process and how to rearrange it for a better flow.
Using the proper tools. For grocery shopping, I employ the grocery list feature on Cozi.* (They have a pretty awesome app for Android, so I don’t even have to print it out! I just take my phone with me and check things off as I go.) And then there was a matter of kitchen tools. Simply getting better knives made a world of difference.
Starting off with prep work. So many recipes begin with “Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.” Really? The oven is always preheated well before I am ready if I do that, which causes me to rush in an attempt to avoid wasting energy. Instead, I go through the ingredients, measuring and cutting the proper amounts (sometimes the day before) and putting them in prep bowls so that I can simply throw them in with panache! 😉
When it comes to job hunting, many folks just dive in headlong without considering in advance what will serve their best interests. What if you approached your job search in a more prepared manner?
1. Develop an overall strategy for your job hunt. Regardless of whether this is a passive or an active search, knowing what will comprise your strategy will help you see the bigger picture. For some folks (like myself), writing down the strategic plan will be helpful in staying true to it. Others may not need it written out. Just do whatever fits your style.
2. Define the activities that will support your strategy. Say “offline networking” is part of your job search strategy (which, by the way, it really, really should be). What does that look like to you? This can vary from person to person. Some folks may like to go to events that have an industry-specific program first, followed by time to network. Others may prefer to do things that lead to more one-on-one networking, such as enrolling in a seminar or volunteering.
3. Identify offerings that fit the activities you plan to do. This is different from Step 2 because this is getting down to the nitty-gritty. It’s not some nebulous “Oh, I want to volunteer.” It’s “I am going to volunteer to be on the special event committee of a nonprofit that is looking for help with their marketing” because your background is marketing and public relations. (Note: While there is some benefit to reaching outside of your circle with your activities, it is helpful to have the activity somehow tie back to your career so that you have something tangible to add to your résumé.)
4. Employ tools that will support your plan. Updating your résumé with your accomplishments and keeping clean copies of it with you is a great idea. Creating a website that provides a portfolio of your work is another possibility that is very suitable for careers that have a visual output or if you have projects you can link to online. Some folks have created business cards with tag lines that encapsulates what they have to offer prospective employers and QR codes that link to the online profiles of their choosing.
Tools can be more than just things. For example, the preparation of your career story is a great tool that allows you to share your career highlights and then seamlessly identify ways you can use your experiences to help solve other people’s problems.
What other ways can you better prepare for the job hunt?
Image courtesy of Deb Nystrom
*I’ve talked before about my love of Cozi. The great folks there have no idea I exist. I just really adore Cozi’s features (and their fabulous app) that make organizing life so much easier. A really useful tool for job seekers!
Melissa Cooley of The Job Quest, LLC unearths clients’ career examples to showcase the talents and results that make them must-hire candidates. Click here to learn more about partnering with Melissa on writing your résumé, preparing for your next interview, and more!
Melissa is a contributor to the book Nourish Your Career, has been quoted on Monster.com, Dice.com, The Daily Muse, and Quintessential Careers, has interviewed numerous times for The Voice of Job Seekers podcast, and has written guest posts for multiple job seeker blogs.