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How should I prepare for a new job search?

Just starting your job search?

Looking for employment can be a daunting and frustrating project. Developing a strategy can save you time and help to reduce some of the missteps involved in the undertaking. According to Timothy Augustine, the first step of the job search is to conduct a personal assessment. In his book, How Hard Are You Knocking? The Job Seeker's Guide to Opening Career Doors', Augustine lays out a nine-step process for defining your personal and professional goals*. Below is an excerpt from the first chapter.

This Internal Assessment can be a vital aspect of a successful job search. Based on Augustine's experience, the number one reason that a new employee leaves a firm within six months is cultural misalignment. An Internal Assessment should help to identify the types of companies where a new employee can thrive.

Define your personal and professional goals:

1. What are your strengths?
You should start your Internal Assessment by considering all of the attributes that you feel would be important to a potential employer. As you analyze your strengths, make sure you consider those strengths that set you apart from others.

2. What type of culture would you thrive in?
Culture can be defined as the values, ideas, customs, skills, and interests of a people or group that are transferred, communicated, or passed along though the traditions and norms of an organization. As you consider culture, you need to truly understand an organization's values, which serve as a set of beliefs that drive the organization. Because organizational culture is often hard to define, you should consider what values are most important to you. Two important factors to consider in this category are Autonomy vs. Independence and Work-life Balance.

3. Where do you want to live now and in the future?
As part of an Internal Assessment, you need to consider all aspects of your life, including geographic locations. Do you want to remain close to family and current friends? Are you interested in international assignments as part of our work? Are you interested in living near a large city? You must consider these and many other questions. This list can help you start.

4. What type of company would you like to work for?
Are you interested in working for a private or public organization? Are you interested in a specific industry, such as technology, financial services, insurance, or manufacturing? Are you interested in finding an organization that has been selected as a "Best Place to Work" by national publications?

5. What types of positions are you interested in?
As you consider potential positions, look beyond just the title. You should consider all aspects of a position, such as the skills, knowledge, experience, and education required. In addition, you should consider the following categories, which should help further define your ideal role:
>Technical skills vs. functional skills
>Security and stability
>Entrepreneurial inspiration

6. What type of manager / boss motivates you?
Are you motivated by a manager who continually provides feedback or a boss who sets the direction and has a hands-off style? Are you motivated by a manager who leads by example and provides a lot of coaching? Are you interested in a manager who has connections and history with the organization?

7. Are you planning to continue your professional education?
Are you planning on professional development through education? If so, you should consider all goals that you would like to achieve, such as CPA, PHR, or CMM certifications, or formal educational milestones such as an MBA or another type of master's degree.

8. What are your long-term goals?
Where do you want to be in five or ten years? For example: I want to be a partner in an auditing firm. I want to be vice president of sales for an international software company. I want to be chief financial officer for a manufacturing organization.

9. Define your company criteria.
>This step is the last in your Internal Assessment. This step is included to help you develop the list of criteria that you feel is most important to you.

What are the most important attributes of your target companies?
>Financially stable
>Technology focused
>Strong leadership
>Culturally stable
>Strong employee orientation program

Once you have completed your Internal Assessment, the next step is to complete an External Assessment. The External Assessment is designed to help you think about the possible resources you can use to research target companies.

*How Hard Are You Knocking? The Job Seeker's Guide to Opening Career Doors" by Tomothy Augustine with Rana Curcio. Oakhill Press.

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