This is one of the first steps to a successful job search. You need to decide what you want out of your job search. Talk to your family and come up with a game plan. You could be amazed at the input that can come from friends and loved ones. The are very important decisions that need to be made so a self assessment is in order. If you are married or living with a significant other, the assessment would probably work better if you include them.
Now that you are looking for a new job, you need to answer these questions:
This decision can be one of the toughest that you have to make. If you are unwilling or unable to leave your current location, that will have a big bearing on your job search. Are there jobs in you field available locally? If not, there are a few options. In trying economic times, a lot of families have had to put up with the over the road truck driver lifestyle. A lot of fathers and mothers have gone to work in area a few hundred miles away through the week and then go home on the weekends. Is that something that you are willing to do to stay in your home area? If the job prospects are bleak locally, this is an option, as unattractive as it may be. If there are no jobs in your field, then you need to decide what kind of job you are willing to take. Do a search online with just your area and see what jobs are posted. Save the ones you would be willing to work at and start building you resume and application to get that job. Remember, it may just be a temporary thing to get you through a tough time. In bad times, the employers rule. They get better, more qualified applicants in larger numbers. You need to look at the reasons you want to stay in that area and use that as motivation for a grade A application and interview.
This is one of those questions that can require some research. Check the job sites, the local newspapers as well as local employment agencies and in some areas government employment resources. A lot of states have a job search site built into their state websites that may help. Also check local government jobs in the area as well as state and federal positions. Naturally, the more populated the area, the better chance for job openings in your area of interest in most cases. If you live in a large rural area with 5000 residents in 200 square miles, the jobs available can be a big challenge. If there are jobs that peak your interest, apply. Do not hesitate or wait for something better. In tough economic times, this can be a big mistake. Especially if the economy continues to decline. REALITY CHECK. If there are no jobs listed and there hasn't been for a while, you have two choices. Take a job in a different field or apply to areas where there are jobs. I know that uprooting your family can be trying at the least but if you are to the point where you are going to lose everything, do you have friends or relatives that you can move in with and would you really want to?
Am I qualified for the job that I want? What job am I qualified for?
When you look for jobs, check the requirements for each. One thing that happens as the economy deteriorates is that a lot of employers will up the job requirements. It is not uncommon for employers to post a job when times are good and the applicant pool is limited that requires something along these lines:
Store Manager Position
Bachelors degree OR 5 years experience required
Then, when the economy tanks, they will post an ad along these lines for the same position:
Bachelors degree in business related field plus 5 years experience required.
Unfortunately, a job that you may have qualified for a few years ago, is now out of your reach.
The economy combined with the unemployment rate can cause you to be more qualified or less qualified for a job that you may be well trained for. It's not fair, but it is a reality. The economy and employment rates makes employer or applicant markets just like the prices of homes and credit can make sellers or buyers markets. There are a lot of folks with masters degrees delivering pizza right now. If you are no longer qualified for your dream job, then realize that it is just that...a dream. Be realistic and remember that this too shall pass. Times will improve and eventually it will become an applicants market again. You just have to make ends meet until then.
Am I willing to take any job just to stay where I am at?
Fast food restaurant jobs may be plentiful, pizza delivery is in demand. If there are no jobs that you are qualified for in your area, are you willing to take a job like these? Remember, in bad economic times when looking for a job, be career minded first when looking for a job. If that doesn't work, be realistic. It doesn't make you any less of a person if you have to resort to jobs that you wouldn't want to make a career of and are over-qualified for. You are just trying to pay the bills until the financial mess is over. If this turns out to be your situation, there are still a lot of options for improving your situation.
Is this the right time to to go to college or otherwise further my education or training?
Think about this, maybe now is the time to get that high school diploma or a college degree. If you have a degree, maybe it is time to go back and get an advanced degree. Every step you take in your education will have the long term effect of improving your job prospects and your long term earning ability. Here is the nice thing about doing this. If you have a lower income you may qualify for Federal Education Grants such as PELL that you never have to pay back, It is a government grant to help pay for college. They also have lower interest federal subsidized loans for furthering your education. Check fafsa.com for the grant information. You can also check http://www.staffordloan.com/ for the information on the loans. You have to attend at least half time to qualify. You can enroll in college, possibly get a grant and some low interest loans that don't have to repaid until you start working, while you wait for the economy to turn. That way, you improve you hiring opportunities and can even command a higher wage when you do find employment!
What are the chances of this area having an economic recovery?
This can be a very important question to consider when job hunting and deciding your future. The reality is that some areas are going to deteriorate and will probably not ever return to the high economic peak it may have once enjoyed. If jobs are being lost at extreme levels and people are moving out, the chances of a return to prosperity anytime soon are thin. It may take years, it may take lifetimes or it may never happen. In some hard hit areas, the economy will level off, but it may be at a new norm. The tax revenues will fall and things seem to spiral downward from there. Until enough people leave and everything levels off, the prospects of finding a good job are slim. Manufacturing, in my opinion, is in for a long and protracted decline in the United States. The introduction of cheap foreign labor and the resulting lower costs for business and the consumer have lead to the end of this sector of the economy for all practical purposes. If your area is depressed and the job market is shrinking as well as the population, you may want to look online for other places that hold your dream job. Unless your home area is in the running for a Toyota or a Honda plant, the odds of an old manufacturing area returning to vibrancy is remote.
Am I pleased with my knowledge, skills and abilities?
A lot of applications will ask for your knowledge, skills and abilities or KSA's for short. Are you happy with your KSA's? These are very important because a lot of larger companies and government positions will be based on your education, employment and KSA's. Some even rate and assign points to the information that you provide showing that you have the KSA's that they require and an interview may, or may not be in the works from that score. If you are not happy or do not qualify for a positions based on the KSA's, you need to look at ways to get the qualified. Above all, DO NOT embellish on your application. It is better to not get a job offer than to get one based upon a lie. It would not only be embarrassing but it even be a violation of law to list KSA's on your application that you do not have. Look at the job that you want, read what is required by making a list and cater your application to honestly show that you are qualified. If you are lacking, there is nothing wrong with listing all of the requested requirements that you meet and to leave off the ones that you do not qualify for. You may still get an interview. It is not uncommon for people to be weak interviewers and for employers to move down the list of possible employees. If you need to obtain more knowledge, skills or abilities, look for ways to do so. Is vocational training possible? If you need to show more leadership ability, is there somewhere that you can volunteer to get the needed skill? A friend of mine was a great people person, and his background could show it. He wanted to get a job that involved managing others but was always a great team player, but never a leader. He volunteered to head a local fund raising drive for for a charitable organization and after 5 months of doing a great job for the charity, he had a stellar leadership reference and was hired in a similar position two months later. You can think "out of the box" to get the KSA's that you need and showing that you gave of your free time to help others can also be very attractive on an application.
Where will I be in ten years and what will my life look like?
Now more than ever it is important to look ahead when you are job searching. Ask yourself where you want to be in ten years and set a goal. If you need more education or job experience to get when you want to go, set your sights on the ultimate goal. You might not be qualified for that $ 250,000 a year job now, but can you be
in 5 years? If you land a less than desirable job in a company, can you work your way up? Do not focus on what you cannot change. The economy is beyond one individuals control so you need to focus on what you can control. Simply put, you need to focus on bettering yourself so that employers will want to hire you, promote you and retain you. A bad attitude will more than likely lead to an employer not hiring you or if you are already employed, may lead to that long lonely walk out the door. You can do anything that you set your mind to. Just map out a path and re-evaluate it as you go. Make changes as you need to and always ask yourself, "if I owned a company and had invested my time and money into it, would I hire me?"