Focus Your Job Search

To Secure That Great Job, Focus Your Job Search!

Debbie Brown, SPHR, MSM, MSW

I remember when I was graduating with my MSW I asked a graduate school friend what she wanted to do.

“I would like a job working with children, ” she replied. What does that tell you? Not much. It could mean working as a child care provider, a psychotherapist, or even a teacher. Similarly, I sat next to someone at a meeting of human resource professionals who was job searching and there to network. I asked him what kind of a job he was looking for, and he said, “Something working with people.” Almost every job in any occupation involves working with people to some degree!


In order to conduct an effective job search that will yield a job you want, you must focus your efforts. This is critical and applies no matter how much experience you have. It means first conducting a thorough assessment of your skills, interests, values and abilities. What kinds of rewards do you want to receive from your work? Know your strengths and weaknesses and focus your job search in a position that allows you to use your strengths.


The next step is to create a resume that will reflect where you want to go with your career. A resume should include your major accomplishments, and should not be written as a job description or a list of your responsibilities. Determine which kind of resume would be the most effective in your job search, functional or chronological. A functional resume lists your accomplishments in different categories, such as administrative, supervision and clinical. It is more effective if you are making a career transition or you are seeking a position that does not emphasize those skills used in your current job. A chronological resume lists your employers and accomplishments in reverse chronological order, beginning with the most current.


At least 75% of people get their jobs through networking. Others are usually willing to help in your job search, but they need to know:

What you are looking for, and
How they can help.

With focus, these are easy questions to answer. People often network just when they need a new job. Networking should be an on-going process that reflects both giving and receiving.

Where to Apply?

You can respond to advertisements, but remember that everyone else is also doing the same. Another strategy is to identify the organizations that would hire people like you and contact them directly. Focus is critical to target your market and pursue it vigorously! The easiest job search I ever had is when I was applying to be financial advisor. I knew exactly the job I wanted and that I wanted to work with one of four major firms. It took a year, but I secured a position with Dean Witter.