Your job search journey may already feel a lot like climbing a mountain. Yet you may not have realized that some pre-planning could help make it easier. There are some stages of your climb when you don't need much help; in others, you could use a better map, advice from other climbers, and improved equipment. If you choose one specific stage of your job-seeking climb to focus on, you'll be able to put the extra effort exactly where it is needed.
While each person's job search is unique, you may be surprised to learn that every job seeker's general route is the same. The Job Search Pyramid provides a sketch of the journey ahead. The Job Search Pyramid comprises five separate stages:
1. Knowing what you want
2. Finding opportunities and contacts
3. Applying to employers
4. Getting interviews
5. Landing the job
A series of typical activities occur in each stage, and these activities can change from person to person or job to job. Knowing more about how the Pyramid works will enable you to focus more time and energy on your job search precisely.
Knowing what you want stage, you define the type of job for which you are looking. In creating that definition, you determine which positions, organizations, and industries match your unique and marketable skills and fit with your vision for your career. Just like a company targets the market that is best suited for its products, you also must make choices about where your skills, abilities, and desires will fit best.
Once you know what job you are seeking, you enter the Finding opportunities and contacts stage. In this stage, you look for people who can help your job search and for specific job opportunities—advertised or not. Advertised positions are found through newspapers, trade journals, the Internet, recruiters, agencies, and your network. Unadvertised positions are those you discover through networking, referrals, research, and contacting employers directly.
In the Applying to employers stage, you make contact with companies regarding the opportunities you have uncovered. The word "apply" isn't meant to suggest you are necessarily filling out applications or sending résumés to human resource departments, although you might be. You also apply for advertised and unadvertised jobs by placing phone calls, writing letters, and scheduling meetings with people who are in a position to hire you. These people may be individual managers, not human resources staff.
In the next stage, Getting interviews, you convince organizations to interview you. The interview may be formal or informal; it may occur in person, over the phone, or in an online video chat. During an interview, you discover an organization's needs and desires for a position and demonstrate how you can meet them. You may have multiple interviews with several people from the same organization.
In the Pyramid, you will notice that areas labeled "Follow up" appear in both the applying and interviewing stages. Following up with contacts and opportunities is essential at any stage of the job search process, but it is in the applying and interviewing stages that follow-up becomes critical. You'll need to follow up with your referral sources, hiring managers, recruiters, human resources staff, and any other key players. Following up is how you will keep your job search in constant motion and avoid getting stuck.
In the final Landing the job stage, you successfully manage your job search from being interviewed to receiving a job offer. When you get an offer, you may need to do some negotiating. When you don't get an offer, you'll want to follow up to determine how you compared to the other candidates and what held the organization back from hiring you.