Why do many job searches fail to produce results? It’s usually due to a lack of planning, strategy, and commitment. To make the most of your time and increase your chances of success, try applying standard project management methods to your telecommute job search process.
How to Treat the Job Search Process Like a Project
According to the 2017 State of the American Workplace report, Gallup found that 51% of workers are seeking new employment. It can be fun to look at job boards and fantasize about the possibilities of a new job, company, or field. However, when it comes down to taking action, many telecommuters find the job search process daunting and time-consuming. Plus, many workers search for new employment while holding full-time jobs and balancing family and other responsibilities. The heavy load makes for a stressful experience, which easily deters professionals from pursuing new paths.
Therefore, the big question is: How can telecommuters effectively search for jobs while maintaining work-life balance? No matter where you are in your career, it helps to have a solid plan, create a job search process, and manage your effort like a project. The idea is to build a systematic way of creating job application materials, evaluating job posts, and submitting applications to avoid duplicating effort and wasting time.
In project management, there are five major phases:
- Concept and Initiation
- Definition and Planning
- Launch or Execution
- Performance and Control
- Project Close
In this article, we align key job search tasks with the five project management phases to help you stay organized and on track.
1. Decide That You’re Ready to Change Jobs
Project Management Phase: Concept and Initiation
Purpose: To determine the feasibility of searching for a new job
Before you start searching the Virtual Vocations database and applying for new telecommute positions, you first need to decide if you’re really ready to switch jobs. Ask yourself questions like:
- Am I unhappy in my current job?
- Does my current job align with my overall career goals?
- Am I underpaid and undervalued in my current role?
- Do I believe there are better opportunities out there for me?
If you like your current employer, but feel dissatisfied in some way, perhaps all you need to do is propose a telecommute option to your boss. As Staples Business Advantage found in their 2016 Workplace Index, 47% of workers seek new employment due to burnout, and 63% of employees believe that a flexible schedule can help avoid burnout altogether.
Use the Virtual Vocations Telecommute Proposal Packet located in the Telecommute Toolkit to evaluate whether your current job is telecommute-friendly and craft a convincing proposal to your boss or manager.
On the other hand, if you can’t stand your employer and are looking for every excuse to leave, then by all means, officially declare your decision commit to finding a new job.
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2. Define Your Career Goals
Project Management Phase: Definition and Planning
Purpose: To define your career objectives and company and job criteria
Do you know what your are overall career goals are? Or are you just going through the motions and taking any opportunity that comes your way?
To build a meaningful career that gives you a sense of purpose and fulfillment, while satisfying your lifestyle needs and interests, you need to clearly define your professional goals and where you want to end up in the short and long run. Ask yourself questions like:
- Am I interested in my field of work?
- Are there other fields that I’d like to explore?
- Does my current work allow me to leverage my best qualities and skills?
- Does my current work allow me to express myself creatively?
You also want to determine what you value most in life and how your current career aligns with or helps support your key priorities. It doesn’t matter what your goals are, but it does matter that you have goals. Therefore, spend some time evaluating what’s most important to you so that you can align your job search effort with your career objectives.
Then, get more specific by setting criteria for companies and telecommute job opportunities. For example, if you want to work independently without having to attend frequent meetings, set a “no or minimal meetings” criterion for new jobs. Also, if you want to get away from traditional corporate customs and communications, set a “casual work environment” criterion for prospective companies. If you’re not sure where to start, browse the Virtual Vocations job database for descriptions and company information to generate ideas.
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3. Develop Application Materials
Project Management Phase: Definition and Planning
Purpose: To create all documentation needed to submit job applications
At this point, you’re probably thinking, “I know what I want, and I’m ready to go. Let’s apply for telecommute jobs already!” However, you still have a bit of prep work to complete before you can submit any applications. Here are some of the key documents and online materials you need to prepare:
- Resumé or CV (or both)
- Cover letter
- LinkedIn profile
- Online portfolio (optional)
Your resumé is your most critical career document that highlights your best qualities and most notable accomplishments. Most U.S. organizations require resumés as a standard part of the job application process. However, academic, medical, and scientific research institutions usually request a CV instead of a resumé. Some countries, such as Ireland and Germany, also prefer the use of a CV over a resumé.
To increase job application efficiency, create a resumé template that can be easily adjusted. You want to tailor your resumé to match each job description, so it’s useful to start with a standard version and make small tweaks. Otherwise, you’ll be copy and pasting and writing the same information over and over.
Also, be sure to create a plain resumé template specially formatted for applicant tracking systems (ATSs). ATSs are software programs that recruiters use to process candidate information. You want the software to interpret your resumé easily, so remove graphics, non-standard fonts, and other embellishments.
Next, prepare a cover letter template that matches the style and formatting of your resumé. You can even create boilerplate text and modify details, such as the company name, job title, and recruiter’s contact information, for each job application.
Finally, create and maintain a professional LinkedIn profile to publicize and validate your resumé information. LinkedIn is one of the top tools recruiters use to search for and vet jobseekers. In fact, Jobvite discovered in their 2016 Recruiter Nation Report that 87% of recruiters use LinkedIn, 43% use Facebook, and 22% use Twitter to evaluate candidates. Thus, keep a clean and consistent online presence and adjust your privacy settings to your comfort level.
As an additional option, you can create an online portfolio to share some examples of your work. Consider launching a simple website or leverage the online portfolio that comes with your Virtual Vocations membership.
- CV vs. Resumé: Is There a Difference?
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4. Schedule Time for Your Job Search
Project Management Phase: Definition and Planning (hang tight, you’re almost out of this phase)
Purpose: To set a regular schedule and dedicate time to job searching
Create a job search schedule that works around other responsibilities. Whether you devote one hour each night or eight hours every Saturday, find what works best for you and stick to it. Treat your job search effort like another work task to ensure you fulfill your goals.
Keep in mind, however, that you want to apply to new telecommute jobs within 48 hours of the post date. Since recruiters receive a ton of applications, it’s best to get your resumé in as soon as possible.
To stay on top of the latest posts, sign up for Virtual Vocations job email alerts so that you never miss a new opportunity. Also, store all your materials in the “My Documents” section of your account so that you can submit applications from any device and location. You can also use the “Save Job” feature and apply to any queued listings during your designated job search time.
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5. Search for and Apply to Jobs
Project Management Phase: Launch or Execution
Purpose: To execute your job search strategy based on your previously defined goals, schedule, and criteria
Okay, have at it! Head over to the Virtual Vocations database and start looking for your next telecommute job! Use the search bar and filters to narrow your results and find opportunities that match your specific criteria. Always qualify companies based on their Virtual Vocations profile, website, online reviews, and other research.
As a reminder, be sure to tailor your resumé and cover letter to each job description by naturally incorporating keywords found through the listing. Also, try to submit your application within 48 hours of the post date.
As a professional courtesy, follow up with each employer within 1-2 weeks of your submittal. If you don’t receive a response, follow up one more time, then move on to the next opportunity. Recruiters will contact you if they are interested.
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6. Track Your Applications and Keep Applying
Project Management Phase: Performance and Control
Purpose: To keep track of your applications and measure your success rate
When it comes to telecommute job searching, it’s usually a number’s game – the more applications you submit, the higher your chances are of landing an interview.
Keep track of which jobs you applied to, when you followed up, which employers contacted you for more information or an interview, and other information you find useful. Tracking data can help you refine your process, improve your application materials, and help you get closer to your dream job.
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7. Close the Deal
Project Management Phase: Project Close
Purpose: To successfully complete telecommute job interviews and get hired
Hooray! You made it! If you’re in this stage it means you landed an interview and are preparing to accept a new job offer. Telecommute interviews are no different than in-person interviews, other than being conducted via phone or video conference. Brush up on your remote interview skills prior to your meeting and test all your equipment to work out any kinks.
If you receive an offer, read through the offer letter and contract carefully. Don’t be afraid to negotiate the terms to suit your work-life goals better.
Also, take the time to record a few lessons learned for the next round of job searching. Improving upon your successes only makes you better and helps you leap further toward your ultimate career.
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Let Virtual Vocations Help You Manage Your Job Search Process
As a Virtual Vocations member, you get access to useful tools, resources, expert advice, and tens of thousands of telecommute jobs posted and updated every day. Sign up today to start managing your telecommute job search process and living the remote lifestyle of your dreams.
Photo Credit: 1. iStock.com/HAKINMHAN
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