Strategic Thinking & Your Job Search

“Strategy: A plan of action designed to achieve a long-term or overall aim.” (Oxford Dictionaries) If your job search rests on sound strategy, you’re much more likely to achieve a successful outcome–that is, to capture the kind of job opportunity you’re targeting. On the other hand, if you have an idea of where you want to end up but don’t take the time and trouble to figure out the best way to get there, your chances of success basically take a nose-dive.

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And, no, trusting to luck doesn’t qualify as a plan based on clear strategic thinking!

I’ve heard people say sometimes that it’s a lot of work (i.e., too much work) to put together a strategically focused job search plan. Aside from referencing the old adage about “anything worth doing is worth doing well,” I’d just like to point out that work is work, so why wouldn’t finding and landing a great new job involve a fair amount of effort? It’s not as if the potential reward isn’t worth pursuing–it is.

So what’s stopping you from moving forward with your job search? Why are you stuck?

Strategic Thinking Worth THE Effort

You could be facing a number of different challenges in your job search, which might appear to you as difficult–sometimes almost impossible–obstacles to overcome. Ultimately, though, they could probably all be boiled down to missing at least one of three key pieces:

Plan Goal Strategy Words on Three Red Dice

  1. Goal: not clearly defined and realistically evaluated;
  2. Strategy: poorly thought-out or not thought-out at all; and
  3. Plan: missing the clear structure and elements needed to guide your execution of the chosen strategy that will take you to your goal.

Strategic thinking can pay off in a number of ways, including helping to prevent you from needlessly spinning your wheels and going nowhere in the process. Muddled or wishful thinking (such as “I really need a job”) certainly isn’t likely to get you anywhere–at least, not anywhere you want to go.

Job Search as a Campaign, Not a Wing-It Attempt

Borrowing again from Oxford Dictionaries, campaign is defined as “an organized course of action to achieve a goal.” You can see a theme here: “organized course of action” (campaign) and “plan of action designed to achieve…” (strategy).

In other words, luck, accident or just plain serendipity doesn’t offer the value your job search needs. A wing-it attempt at getting from A (where you are now) to B (the new job you want/need) will not achieve the result you’re after, or if it does, it will be one of the wonders of the modern world! Even if you’re naturally adept at improvising, this is not a recommended or consistently effective approach to a job search.

For one thing, you can spend a lot longer on your job search than you need to and probably encounter much more frustration along the way than you would if you treated the job search as the campaign it should be. Is that really what you want? (If so, you must have a lot more free time to waste than most of us do!).

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