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Starting Your Job Search

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As a recent or soon-to-be graduate, figuring out what you want to do with the rest of your life likely feels like a daunting task. Use this 4-step exercise to evaluate your likes and dislikes, helping you narrow your focus to find your dream job!

Published in: Career, Recruiting & HR
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Starting Your Job Search

  1. Starting Your Job Search: Figure Out What You Like to Do
  2. Then “What do you want to be when you grow up?” “What exactly do you want your day-to-day job experience to be like?” Now
  3. If you could choose your ideal job (within reason, of course), what would you actually be doing and under what conditions would you be doing it?
  4. Consider: Big or small company? By yourself or in a team? In an office or on the road? At a desk or outside? Financial motivation or emotional motivation? Animals? People? Kids?
  5. To help you answer that question, do the following 4-step exercise.
  6. 1. Develop a list of activities
  7. Write down as many activities as you can think of (job-related and otherwise) that you have done over the years. It doesn’t matter whether you enjoyed the activity.
  8. If you have had limited professional work experience, don’t worry. Write down leisure activities or specific tasks that you performed on your own or in an organization.
  9. Examples: ✔ Recruited and hired new waiters and waitresses ✔ Conducted training programs ✔ Greeted and seated guests ✔ Developed and wrote training manuals ✔ Sold raffle tickets door to door ✔ Managed Little League baseball team ✔ Served food in homeless shelter ✔ Collected stamps ✔ Worked as a stage manager for an amateur theater group ✔ Did volunteer work in a hospital ✔ Headed PTA fundraising drive
  10. Write down as many of these tasks as possible. The more activities the better this exercise works.
  11. 2. Measure your likes and dislikes
  12. Assign a satisfaction/dissatisfaction rating to each item on the list. Don’t overthink.
  13. Use a scale of –10 to +10. Enjoyable tasks get a 9 or 10. Unenjoyable tasks get a -9 or -10.
  14. 3. Analyze your list
  15. Isolate tasks that come out on opposite ends of the spectrum (7 or above & -7 and below)
  16. Think about each item and ask yourself, “What about this activity did I enjoy or find awful?”
  17. 4. Look for patterns
  18. Read over and analyze your answers to the preceding questions. See if you can uncover certain patterns and common threads.
  19. If you find that a common thread among the activities that brought you satisfaction is people, it’s a safe bet that you’re an extrovert.
  20. If one of the common threads is helping other people, your tendencies are service-oriented.
  21. But don’t stop there.
  22. Narrow the “people” pattern down. Do you like working with people as part of a team, managing people, training people?
  23. Do the activities that you find satisfying (or unsatisfying) call for problem-solving skills or creativity? Is there a competitive aspect to those activities, or are they cooperative?
  24. The important thing about this exercise is not to judge yourself. Don’t think in terms of whether you SHOULD OR SHOULDN’T FIND an activity satisfying.
  25. If you list enough activities — 25 is not an excessive amount to work with — you should be able to find some patterns.
  26. DON’T RUSH THIS EXERCISE. The more insights you gain from this stage of job targeting, the easier it will be for you to complete the other stages of the job searching process.
  27. Jump-start your job hunt with these For Dummies books: Darts © Getty Images/iStockphoto Online job finder button © iStockphoto Application for employment © Getty Images/iStockphoto Content from Job Hunting for Dummies by Max Messmer. Learn more: http://bit.ly/JobHuntingFD

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