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Design Your Career Hunt [War] Strategy

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Don’t confuse steps taken with strategies to win! Many a war has been lost by strong active forces that are well-armed, disciplined, and able; yet they failed to see the bigger picture of how to win.  This is true in the job force, too.  Let’s look at two macro areas where you might be planning your career, taking the right actions, and still failing to land yourself the position and career you desire most.

First, jobless (or dissatisfied workers who want to change jobs) can often carpet bomb companies with applications and resumes that fail to communicate clearly what their specific career plan forward is. Too many resumes are substandard creations that utilize templates or technology, but don’t make clear to potential employers what their company investment risk will be. In a decade that has seen unemployment levels rivaled only by the Great Depression in the 1930s and a job exodus that has removed more than a third of workers from even looking for a job, every open position still has hundreds of applicants fighting to get hired. It’s a war.

And as the inactive workforce begins to activate again after its absence, it’s only going to become worse.  It is more vital than ever that you hone yourself, identify where you want to go, what you are doing to make it happen, and have a winning strategy that can be communicated. If your resume relies too much on tasks of the past and lists of various tools you used rather than focusing on listing achievements and describing what you are acquiring now to move forward, you are missing something. Ultimately companies invest in people who are already investing in themselves and can communicate their strategy as a good company investment. Ask yourself:

  • What are my specific and unique-to-me career vision, mission, and strategy statements?
  • When was the last time I really thought deeply about what I want to do and communicated with others what I will do to get there?
  • How committed am I to investing in my own success?

Second, applicants can initiate a “ground game” job war out in the open through normal hiring channels when a “guerrilla approach” job hunt through backdoor introductions would be more effective, or vice versa.  Yes, there are career and job fairs with plenty of local free career centers to help workers gather resources to find a job.
But getting plugged into a newly satisfying career that is meaningful is something wholly different. While academic and career centers abound at secondary and collegiate schools to help young people explore and discover their perfect “fit”, mid-level career professionals and those reentering the workforce after long absences don’t have the same guidance at their disposal. This is especially true if one is trying to change fields or find a new line of work that fits better with changing life realities and limitations. Working with a certified career and education coach who can help hone a personalized strategy that identifies the best way to get a toe-hold into a position is vital. Don’t make your potential employer work so hard to figure out who you are and to whom you’re connected; they don’t have the time and will just move on to the next resume. Ultimately, companies rely on relationships and connections to reduce risk to hiring. Ask yourself:

  • Do I have an effective 2-minute elevator speech that communicates what I do, what I want to do, and what I am now doing to achieve it?
  • Am I relying too much on a career center, job fairs, or online resources and failing to work with a career coach or develop an effective career network?
  • Am I observing company culture, as well as the official hiring rules, with my employment approach?

Macon, writing a scholarly article on employment interview practices cited that "a positive relationship between attending an interview coaching session and interview performance has been shown. In support of this trend, Maurer, Solamon, and Lippstreu (2008) found recently that reliability and validity were somewhat higher in a sample that received coaching compared to an uncoached group....Other more non-traditional strategies have recently been explored with similar positive results..." – Therese Macon, Dpt of Psychology, Univ. of Missouri-St. Louis, 2009

Waging war to get a job is not for the faint of heart. In addition to the two cautionary areas above, one must also be aware of the many mindset conflicts and the mental endurance needed to remain optimistic in the face of battle setbacks that may be misleading. Being well-versed or “trained” in your vision, mission, and strategy provides focus when it becomes difficult. Working with a professional certified coach who can provide vantage perspective will ensure that you’re not fighting alone or blindly. Your coach will validate your strengths through research based assessments can build up your confidence.

A-Squared LAMP Groups created Road Trip worksheets that we use to coach professionals forward in their careers along with the Strong’s Inventory assessment. We take you from identifying your dream career with practical limitations and current speed bumps of reality to researching related job titles. You will move through the process to emerge with a relevant career vision, a unique mission statement, a personal strategic plan for success, SMART goals to accomplish, and accountability measures to track both completion and the process. Want to learn more? Contact us at to inquire further, or join as a Bronze member by making an annual donation of only $50. This gives you access to our self-coach tools, information, discounts for one-on-one career coaching, and guided online support.

Start your road trip now by designing your secret dream job. What does it look like? Sign up for our Career (Re)Design class taught by experienced Coach Lynn, a 30-year veteran of career counseling, development, and higher educational leadership. Registration is $150 for 5 call-in sessions. Includes notebook journal, group discussions, dream/goal setting homework, contact/network development, & more. Sign up here:

 Next Article, May 11th: Remember not to fight the WRONG war!

(De-Stress so you don't come across as desperate.)


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