A Career Planning Checklist for Your Job Search

If you are currently looking for a job, you probably have some idea about the job you want. You may know something about how to get that job. You may even have some ideas about companies that might hire a person like you, with your skills and interests. Maybe you learned these things from friends and family members, in school or from previous job search experience, or from just living — in other words, “common sense.”

Sometimes, however, “common” sense is not always

sense. Unfortunately, many people learn career planning and job search skills the same way they learn about sex — “on the street,” from their peers, from experience, or from training in school, or from an all-too-brief conversation with a more experienced person. And how accurate was what you first learned about sex? Well, you get the point!

If you have spent any time looking for a job, you may be thinking, “There must be a better way.” In fact, there are many “better ways,” and it is up to you to find your better way. When it is all said and done, it is not what you know that matters.

that will get you from where you are to where you really want to be. Most successful job seekers do follow some common practices to progress in their careers. Discuss your goals and activities, ask questions and seek career counseling from a qualified career coach. Seek career training or join a job club if these options are available. Use this checklist to measure your progress.

: I understand the value of making wise career decisions. I am learning to expect change and prepare for it.

: I have taken an inventory of my skills, interests, values, abilities and dreams. I have established a profile of my

, my situation and my concerns that are important to my career decision-making.

: I have identified possible occupational, educational and other developmental alternatives. I have compared the pros and cons of a variety of occupations and determined which ones are best for me. I have a focused employment objective.

: I know how most people find jobs and use every source of job leads available to me. I have something valuable to contribute and am ready to go to work.

: I clearly explain my goals and skills to people I know. I follow up on all new contacts, so I will know more people. I contact employers that interest me, even if they have no job openings. Out of respect and gratitude, I write thank-you notes to each person who helps me along the way.

: I make a good first, and lasting, impression. I use my

effectively in job applications, in my resume, in cover letters, during interviews and for other opportunities. I use the phone with confidence and briefly summarize my skills and goals. I am well prepared to find the job I want.

: I have made decisions about my goals that are both realistic and reflect the lifestyle I want to have. I mapped out plans to reach my goals. I am taking actions needed to reach my goals, such as enrolling in courses of study, acquiring additional work experience and news skills, networking and meeting with employers.

: Career planning is never

. There is a great deal to learn from every job I hold: new skills, new ideas, new challenges, new opportunities that come my way and I create. I am reviewing my career action plan every year or two to determine if my work is still relevant or if my situation has changed. I am planning my next move. I am helping others by sharing what I am learning.