Five Essential Steps to a Great Job

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There are five essential steps to a great job, provided one is willing to do some hard work; shortcuts reduce chances. The following tips are for those who want to stay in the same field. For those who want to change fields or who have no idea what they want to do in the future, there are other steps; and for those career changers, most of these steps are still applicable. The five steps are:

  • Self-appraisal
  • Development of marketing collateral
  • Identification of employment opportunities
  • Project management
  • Interview preparation


People who find themselves in transition and are ready to go back to work have a good opportunity to do a self-appraisal. The exercise will pivot the skills and personal attributes that they want to use and sell to a future employer. There are a number of such self-appraisal tests that have been around for a long time and have proved worthwhile—or example, Myers–Briggs, DiSC, Keirsey Temperament Sorter–II, Career Insights, and StrengthsFinder.

Development of marketing collateral

The first things every job seeker must have are an outstanding résumé and an exceptional LinkedIn profile. Notice that I said outstanding and not good or very good. The reason is that because of the vast supply of mostly mediocre résumés and profiles, only outstanding marketing collateral is competitive. My strongest opinion is to have these documents created professionally by a certified and recommended party. Why, you ask? (a) Because you are in fierce competition with others who are also very good at what they do. (b) Because writing a résumé and a LinkedIn profile is part of a profession that requires rigorous training, top skills, longtime experience, and full understanding of the requirements of applicant tracking systems—the software that most medium-size and large companies use to parse résumés. And (c) because poor marketing collateral generates no traction and wastes time. Once a résumé and LinkedIn profile have been done, they’ll still need periodic tweaking. Make sure they contain the right keywords. You can research keywords via Google AdWords and check out your competition’s keywords via LinkedIn.

Next, develop your value proposition by answering to the following four questions. What do you do? Who are your customers? What benefits do your customers perceive that you provide? What do you offer that is unique or that is the kind of service your customers can’t get anywhere else?

The next step is the development of your personal brand. Personal brand is the impression you make, what you are known for, and what people say about you. A brand is not a logo, a tagline, or a product; it’s a relationship. People tend to relate to others they know, trust, and like. Personal branding consists of perception, reputation, influence, and image. When creating your personal brand, you have to be able to answer the following three questions. Who are you? What do you do? and, Why does it matter? You should routinely Google yourself, set up Google Alerts with your name, and brand your e-mail signature.

Now’s the time to start your personal marketing. First, define your objective and goal. Consider the type of job, determine the title, and list what’s important based on your values, such as recognition, money, job security, promotion, belonging, purpose, and commitment. Next, identify a specific audience. For example, you should target companies, employers, industries, locations, commuting distance, home office, and title. At all times, you have to differentiate yourself by targeting your audience with your message. Determine the best venue. Periodically measure your results and make adjustments accordingly.

The last step is to advertise and promote yourself. Use social media such as LinkedIn, Facebook, and Twitter. You have to relentlessly increase the number of connections on each social medium. To become visible, you have to participate in group discussions and answer questions. Such actions validate that you are an expert, and they differentiate you from the crowd. Make sure you have a professionally produced picture. Fill out your profiles on social media completely. LinkedIn makes it very easy to publish articles available to be read by a large audience. And last, participate in job search networking groups.

Identification of employment opportunities

Of course, that’s the ultimate goal, but where? There are several places. For example, a search on the LinkedIn tab called Jobs—by job title. Via an search on title. Via SIC or NAICS code number (government industry classifications) on Local libraries have various databases, but the most effective way is participation in various job search networking groups. Clearly, you must continually explore and research opportunities. A good source is by working with your local reference librarian. By participating in various LinkedIn groups, you can submit questions, and hopefully, people would be willing to help. Read job-search-relevant articles because they can provide clues. Focus on a dozen or so target companies, and follow their employment sections. Create a list of key people to contact primarily at your target companies.

Project management

Your job search could be protracted over several months. The amount of information available is quickly expanding to the point that a serious job seeker needs to start closely managing a job search project. At a minimum, a constantly updated spreadsheet will do. Some use a customer relationship management tool. A couple of the more popular ones are JibberJobber and CareerShift.

Interview preparation

This is an absolute must because in the end, there will be only one winner getting the job offer. Prepare for being asked Tell me about yourself.

Develop a minimum of 15 SARB or STAR or PAR or CAR answers. These are answers to interview questions in a format by which you start with the background situation, followed by the action you took, and ending with the result and the benefit to the employer. Best is to practice with someone who could guide and critique. An added value would be to record the practice session to see yourself in action. Research the company to the max. Appear extremely knowledgeable about the company you are interviewing with. Cultural fit with the organization is of utmost importance. And even though you cannot change the way they perceive you based on the impression you make, you can certainly influence that impression by showing them your interest in and deep knowledge about them. Thorough preparation can pay off very handsomely. But even that’s not the end. The company is in control of the process until they extend an offer, and at that point, control moves over to you. This is when you must continue learning about the company and its true culture, so that you can negotiate the compensation package. Most companies expect and are prepared to negotiate. Are you?