Three Things I Learned About the Job Search from Home Improvement

Question: What does home improvement have to do with the job search?

Hint: It takes more than a vision and a toolbox to get the job done.

When I bought my place a few years ago, it required some work to put my personal touch on it. I wanted to update the bathroom a bit by painting and replacing some of the fixtures. I wanted to replace a few doors and install some shelving. I already had a basic toolkit and went out to buy a drill set and levels. I thought I had all I need and was ready to go. I thought to myself, “How hard can all this work be?” and I got started.

I thought I could get the projects done, no problem. Well, I was wrong. Although the work looked pretty easy, I really had no clue what I was doing. I quickly found out that each of these tasks required more than tools. While I knew what needed to be done, I had no idea how to get it done. I didn’t have the know-how I needed.

What does this have to do with your job search? Perhaps you are clear about what job you want. Maybe you know what needs to be done in an effective job search. You know you need to craft a resume and cover letter, look for job openings, and network. You may know what to do in your job search, but do you know “how to” execute effectively?

In my case, because I didn’t know what I was doing, I spent hours going back and forth to Lowe’s and Home Depot exchanging materials. Re-painting my bathroom took a week because I didn’t plan for how long it would take to strip off decades of old paint, apply primer and re-paint. Installing shelves took a week when it should have taken a couple of hours. Not knowing how to properly execute my home improvement work, cost me hours of time I could be doing other things. During the process, I got so frustrated and wanted to give up many times. I was tempted to call in some people who knew what they were doing, but my pride wouldn’t let me. I had to finish it myself. As I look back at my handy work now, I do have a sense of pride at what I accomplished, but it could have been done so much easier, in less time with less frustration.

It’s not uncommon for job seekers to waste a lot of time creating the “perfect” resume and cover letter for each position they want to apply for. Or spend hours everyday scanning job listing websites looking for the right job opportunity to materialize. After all, they’ve read and been told that they need a resume and can find tons of job openings online. That’s all true, but it’s not always the “what” you do but the “how” you do it that makes the difference. Even with all the right tools, success comes from knowing how to use them effectively to get the job done.

Here are 3 things I learned about the job search from my attempt at home improvement.

#1 Have A Plan: In the job search as in home improvement, you need a plan. You can’t just buy a bunch of supplies and get to work. You have to plan out the project and lay the foundation. The same goes for the job search. Once you’ve determined the job you want, you have to decide how you’re going to find that job. If you aren’t finding enough leads, you have to figure out how to get more or better leads. If you’re getting interviews, but not getting the right offers, you might need to fine tune your interviewing skills. Put your efforts where they will be most effective based on what needs to be done. For example, don’t waste time tweaking your resume and scouring job listing sites, if what you really need is interview preparation.

#2 Learn The Basics: There is a ton of information about job search strategies at your disposal. Granted, some sources are better than others but the information is out there. Take the time to learn the basics of job seeking such as how to craft a resume and cover letter that will get noticed by recruiters, how to look for a job beyond scanning job listing sites, how to interview effectively, and how to build and expand your professional network. There is no magic in the job search, and you can’t skip the fundamentals. Go back to basics, create a plan and work the plan, consistently.

#3 Consult With Experts: Put your pride aside and get help from a career counselor or career coach. It’s an investment that will last a lifetime. People don’t become experts without out experience. A good career counselor or career coach also has had a career they’ve managed. In addition to knowing the theory behind career choice and satisfaction, they’ve been through their own career transitions and had their share of challenges. They also have connections to recruiters and know how people really get jobs.

Professional resume writers can help you, too. With their help you can get a resume that presents you qualifications in the best way possible. They can’t work miracles, but they can some professional polish to your experience. 

Final ThoughtBefore you tackle the important job of getting the job you want take some time to set a good foundation. A little work on the front end to create a focused plan, learn the basics for job search success and consult with those more knowledgeable will save you time and frustration and will lead to a better finished product-  the job you want!

If you want to know how to create a more effective job search action plan, register for the upcoming job search strategies teleclass. Click here for more information:

Request the free Special Report: 6 Tips For Discovering The Work You Love By Working With A Career Counselor to learn how to get focused in your job search.



Ms. Markell Steele is a career counselor, owner of Futures in Motion, Inc. and author of Fast Track Your Career: Three Steps for Finding Work You Love. For more than 13 years, she has helped frustrated job seekers find career direction so they can get the job they want in less time with less stress. Visit the Futures in Motion website to read more career and job search articles.

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