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When It Comes to the Job Search: Think Strategically! Prof. John-Paul Hatala

About the Author

Dr. John-Paul Hatala is currently an Assistant Professor at Louisiana State University in the School of Human Resource Education and Workforce Development, Baton Rouge. Additionally, Dr. Hatala is a director at the Social Capital Development firm Flowork International. His academic research focuses on social networking behaviors, social capital, human resource development, career development and the transition to the labour market. John-Paul has a book being release entitled 'The Strategic Networker: A Learner.s Guide to Effective Networking' and has been featured in such media outlets as the Globe and Mail, CBC Radio and Global TV.

Whoever said that looking for work is a full-time job is obviously employed. The job search is more like being self-employed. There's no one telling you what to do and you only get paid if you produce!

If this is the case, the importance of thinking strategically about the job search must be at the forefront. The problem, however, is that the job search is often a reactionary process due to the stress of losing a job or the need to make a transition into another position. Both of these work against the job seeker, from a psychological as well as a tactical perspective.

Psychologically, the signs are usually expected and clear. For example, there may be an onset of mild depression which causes an inability to focus on the task at hand. Tactically, the job seeker may be unrealistic about their job choice as the job search goes on, this can potentially mean wasting valuable time and energy.

So what can the job seeker do?

Thinking strategically about the job search from the beginning is vital in order to reduce the time it takes to find a job. Most often, the job seeker focuses on their ideal job, their 'dream job', the one they've been trained to do. The problem here, though, is that this typically limits the job related opportunities available to us.

The strategic job seeker, on the other hand, actually runs a parallel job search.

Prior to commencing with the job search, it's important to look for your 'dream job', but to also look for opportunities that support you eventually getting your ideal position. Those supporting jobs should meet the criteria you have set for moving you closer to getting your dream job. For example, if you want to be a teacher, you need to list all the skills and experiences required to be a competent teacher: teaching, curriculum development, leadership, etc. Taking those skills and finding them in other jobs will not only build your competencies but also position you as highly competitive when you do get an interview as a teacher. Taking a job as a tutor starts to make more sense when you know you can acquire the skills necessary to increase your value to the employer.

It's important to think long term when it comes to the job search. Strategically determining your job search path is critical if you want to effectively and efficiently make the transition to the labor market. Although taking a job other then your dream position may feel wrong, it's more about how the job you're taking fits into becoming more competitive in the labor pool. Get strategic about your job search and you will reap the benefits down the road!

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