You need a job. Whether you’re a 2020 graduate, were laid off because of Covid-19, or want to move into the next phase of your career all you know is that you’ve been searching job boards for hours. You add some filtering and get a list of hundreds or thousands of results, then grab some coffee and dive right in to the poor job descriptions trying to evaluate if you’re qualified or if the job will help your career. 

What’s wrong with this picture?

It’s a painstaking process that must be repeated every few years (or few months) as you move through your career. But every time you sit back down to search, you find yourself at square one: How do I start?

It’s time for a better strategy, one that starts at the end and works backwards to where you are now.

Job Search vs Career Search

Ditch the job search and start career searching. By only thinking of that very next job, you’re boxing yourself in because you don’t know what comes after that – you could easily find yourself in a role that doesn’t suit you and you’re back to that square one again. 

Career searching requires thinking a few jobs ahead, “if I go for this job, what will the next roles look like?” Each industry has a rough sketch of the roles and progression they follow. You can find it on any company team web page or a simple search for a generic term will yield the titles. A simple example for “marketing” will show Marketing Assistant, Marketing Analyst, Marketing Manager, Marketing Director, Chief Marketing Officer, and more. Another step forward will show different marketing roles such as in social media, digital, and print. 

When you zero in on the type of path towards your dream job, you can find all the related roles in between. Your research should result in a list of jobs ordered in succession that you’ll look for versus focusing on only the next one. You will know exactly where your career is headed and won’t backtrack to square one once you’re ready to move on.

Follow the trail

Now you’re thinking: I’m following, but how do I know that my research produced an accurate succession of roles? 

The answer comes from your network and their resume. From the people you know to those researched on LinkedIn, you have full access to their career journey. Find a handful of professionals who have achieved the level you would like to. Note the roles they took, the companies they worked in, and the job description to see if it falls in line with what you want to do. 

Combining the succession of roles you have created and your network’s, you’ll find the overlap and can then plan your next few jobs. You can now do a highly targeted, efficient search without spending hours scrolling through multiple job boards. 

Bonus: This will also be a highlight in interviews when you show how you want to grow within a company.

That’s it

It’s only two steps. You’re not employing “top 50 job search tactics,” you’re working smarter. It’s a simple tweak to your current job search behavior that weeds through the search results without actually having to do a lot of filtering. 

We all want to be engaged in the work we do. This extra time in quarantine gives you a great chance to evaluate different career paths and where it will lead to. Use it to give yourself the next few years of work that is purposeful.

If you have any questions, I’m happy to answer in the comments. Let me know how the career search goes!