In our career coaching practice exclusively guiding college students, recent graduates and 20-somethings to successfully launch their professional careers, we have developed a structured process to ensure that all aspects of an individual’s job search and career readiness are incorporated into a plan that can be tailored to their needs, maximizing their time. This framework is effective and valuable for anyone focusing full-time on a job search.
The model leverages a variety of techniques to find employment opportunities while also preparing you to interview and work successfully in a specific field. It positions your job search as your job: taken seriously, with obligations, duties and accountability. Below you can find the detailed components of the model and the challenges faced by early careerists:
Day 1: Source Job Opportunities On General Job Boards
Sourcing jobs is so important that our model devotes two different days to it.
On the first day, use general job boards such as LinkedIn, Indeed, The Muse and Simply Hired. Be prepared with your upload-ready resume, LinkedIn profile and an editable cover letter template that can be quickly tailored. On either day, your work involves searching for relevant positions, researching feedback about the companies, ensuring that your stored searches are yielding appropriate roles, and most importantly, completing the application process for these positions.
Day 2: Find Targeted Job Boards
The second day focuses on targeted job boards, such as Built In and AngelList for startups, Idealist.org for philanthropy and Work in Sports for sports-related positions. Finding these specialty boards requires an independent focus. Talk to people in your industry, ask them where they post openings and seek new opportunities. These boards may include blogs and other content on your field. Use this as an opportunity to learn and, more importantly, engage with the authors on their observations. Across both days of sourcing activities, set targets, such as applying to three jobs per week, to help ensure progress.
Day 3: Learn More About Your World Of Work
Devote your time to researching companies and people in your area of focus. Who works at those firms? Where did they work before? Who are the industry thought leaders publishing articles? What challenges are they addressing? Find business issues of interest to you, then further explore the companies you recently applied to. Read news articles and other materials beyond their website to glean more information.
Day 4: Network Thoughtfully
Eighty-five percent of jobs are filled via networking, but most job seekers do not devote the equivalent amount of effort to their outreach in a job search. Networking is so important that our model devotes several days to this endeavor also, each with a unique focus.
First, focus on the “who” of your network. Devote time to study your network objectively. Review your entire contacts list on LinkedIn and on other social media channels. Identify people at companies that have internal referral programs, requesting recommendations and endorsements on LinkedIn as appropriate. Set up time to speak with people about your search. Identify company recruiters in your field and contact them regarding your background.
These next few days are now about building your network by building your own skills and engaging in the community.
Day 5: Focus On Your Skills
To prepare for specific interviews, do deep company research using sites like Glassdoor and Indeed, and draft questions. Objectively review your skills and those noted in the jobs you have sourced. Note skill gaps and make decisions about how to address them. Determine if there is free or fee-based training that would make sense for your goals.
Day 6: Support Others
Connect with your community and alumni groups, and find ways to have fun and offer to help solve problems. You may even sign up for volunteer work to build leadership skills, expand your horizons and network. Reach out to people who founded or run volunteer organizations; ask to learn more about their mission to see if you could lend a hand. Ask to manage a project, help fix something that you identified as needing improvement, and make it happen. Technical skills can be developed too if an organization has a database or donor work that you can assist with.
Day 7: Share Your Journey
If you’re a college graduate, you’ll recall that school had a natural, built-in momentum. Checkpoints like quizzes, exams and grades created forced accountability to someone else. The same should go for your job search. At the end of each week, reflect on what you accomplished. Take stock and measure the growth in your network. Did you apply to the appropriate number of jobs this week to meet your goal? Share your update with family and friends. Having an accountability partner helps create an “achievement factor,” akin to informing a fitness coach how many reps or miles you completed this week.
Applying the 7-day job search model takes concentration and commitment. In our experience with early careerists, there is a tendency to hesitate to invest time in engaging with others. In the past, new people in your life were “assigned” to be there: teachers, counselors, and dormmates. Now, you need to seek out the people to build your network and grow your skills.
This process makes you a more compelling candidate. During an interview, when someone asks, “So, what have you been doing since graduation?” you will have a strong, organic, robust answer that positions you as top talent.