Job Search Planning

This guide is intended for people who desire to leave their current employer but want to seek a new job while still employed, who are about to graduate from college, or who are about to finish their assignment in the armed forces.

Since my assignments with the USAF included missile flight testing with the Minuteman Program at Cape Canaveral and Vandenburg AFB, I thought it would be appropriate to develop a 6-month countdown schedule enabling you to launch a new career with a new employer. Please review and modify for your own personal launch into a new career.

6 Months Prior

  • Write down your assessment of your strengths and weaknesses regarding your experience and skills;

  • Research job opportunities (ask questions of people in industry, attend trade shows, read trade publications, research companies and trade associations using their web sites. Over 1,000 forest products firms have their own web sites. Use the web links listed on our site);

  • Obtain financial information on public and private firms regarding their financial stability, goals and growth potential.;

  • Decide on what type of job you want to perform (operations, engineering, finance, accounting, technical services, maintenance, personnel, sales and marketing), and so forth;

  • Format your resume using some of the guidelines suggested on this site. List qualifications, accomplishments, education, etc. Also, prepare a "mini-resume" on a business card (use front and back). Present these cards to your selected business contacts as a networking tool;

  • Join selected professional associations if you are not already a member. Take advantage of association referral services;

3 Months Prior

  • Practice interviewing techniques - be honest about your skills and accomplishments;

  • Prepare "in-person" contact lists. Target the hiring manager not just the personnel manager.

  • Obtain reference letters from your prior employers, associates with your current employer;

  • Send out monthly letters to key hiring officials. Indicate how a prospective employer could benefit from using your skills. Remember, over 80% of the job openings are not advertised.

2 Months Prior

  • Follow-up with phone calls to hiring managers. Schedule interviews and be punctual and properly dressed for the interview. The first impression is the key. In most cases you will be interviewed by a number of the hiring firms' employees. Be honest in replying to questions and ask thoughtful questions regarding responsibilities and the firm's culture.

When you graduate, leave the military or leave an employer....

  • Devote full-time to the job search. This is not a part-time effort. Your job is to get a job.

  • Follow-up with in-person contacts, phone calls, letters, etc. Show interest in working for the firm.

  • After an offer is extended, you can negotiate on the salary and benefit package. Ask for a performance review after 6 months on the job, secure feedback. Make sure you know what your responsibilities are at the outset of employment.

Patience and persistence during your job search will pay off over the long term. Remember, it is the steady rain that soaks not the quick downpour.


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