Project Managing Your Job Search

How to project manage a successful job change

January 18, 2016

pathThere are many reasons why you might need or want to start a job search:

  • Coworkers are dropping like flies after a corporate reorganization and you decide you should leave before someone decides for you.
  • You’re tired of the “same old-same old,” but there are no transfer opportunities available.
  • Your family is outgrowing your salary.
  • You took a break from your career for personal reasons and it’s time to get back in.
  • Your new boss brings out the worst in you.
  • You got the proverbial pink slip.

No doubt, job change is risky. A tough economy and competitive job market could make for a grueling search. But the risks of a job hunt are often better than the risks of remaining in a dead-end job, and definitely more rewarding. So let’s get to it. By using project management strategies to manage your risks, you can significantly improve your chance of success.

Project Tip: Manage your job hunt with project management strategies

What is Project Management?

We distinguish projects, which are temporary and unique, from operations, which are ongoing and repetitive. Projects have little, if any, precedent for what they are creating, the project work is new, and workers are unfamiliar with expectations.

Sounds like a job search, doesn’t it? You know how to do your regular job, which is an ongoing operation. How do you switch from that familiar work—which you are good at—to looking for a new job? Job searches are different: most of us are not good at them, and despite all the news articles and magazine tips, there is no real documented process for a job search.

Fortunately, project management principles can be applied directly to the project of a job search. Once you understand those principles, many of the unknowns start to fall into familiar territory.

How Long Will Your Job Search Take?

It’s important to estimate the length of your job search. That may be hard to do, but unless you take the time to plan, you may have a hard time managing your expectations, morale, energy, and finances. Start by asking a few questions to put boundaries around the search:

  • How soon can you expect to start looking?
  • What’s the longest time it could take?
  • What is the fastest someone has gotten a new job (besides an internal transfer?)
  • How much can you afford to underwrite your job search?
  • Where is the money coming from?

Set Goals

Setting attainable goals is an essential component of project management. Start your job search project by listing your goals, your risk management plan, and your assumptions. These will be the measuring sticks against which you can evaluate your progress. What are your short and long-term career goals? What is your target job and what other jobs would be acceptable alternatives? Next, check your readiness: are you fully qualified for the job you want? Credentialed? You may need to do some prep work before you can initiate your job search. Once you have the answers to these questions, you’ll be ready to move ahead.

by Helen S. Cooke

Next: Initiating Your Job Search Project


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