Before you start your job search in earnest, make a few decisions.  This post includes questions my clients pose on targeting their ideal job and resources for making some of those decisions.

Note that most of these questions are related to the daily tasks in the How to Get a Job in 90 Days Plan.  Get day-by-day guide to the perfect job search here.

The old saw, "If you don't know where you're going, how are you going to know when you get there?" was never so true as it is in this point in your search. Here's how to figure out "where you're going"!

1.  Decide where you want to live

Do you have an example of how to make this decision?
Yes, you can get your Where Will My New Job be Located? Decision Chart by clicking the button above.

Where can I find information to help me decide where to live?
[This is a list for 2015, but these lists are continually updated. So be sure you have the latest!]

Forbes:  Where the Jobs are in 2015
Willing to move (maybe to a colder climate?) More where the jobs are in 2015
CNN Money:  Where You Are 18 Times More Likely to Find a Job
CNN Money:  Best Places with Quick Commutes to Work
CNN Money:  Best Places with Most Affordable Homes
The 10 Most and Least Expensive States in the U.S.
The 10 cheapest towns to live in (over 50,000 in population)
Forbes Best Places for Business and Careers
Comparison of Cost of Living in Various Locations
Conducting a job search in a new location
Best cities for new grads
Learn all about any locationHow

est employment prospects for African-Americans
Jobs that are most prolific in each state

2.  Define your ideal working arrangement and office location
What are my options?
Here are some of the ways you can work today.
Which of these is ideal for you?. 
  • Full time in an employer's office
  • Home office, meeting with clients or customers
  • Home office, meeting with clients or customers in public venues or at an employer's office
  • Hoteling, mostly in the field, but "popping in" to an office to work at a desk designated for non-routine use
  • Telecommuting, regularly scheduled or full or part time work at home, typically within range of the office for easy drive in
  • Flextime, regularly scheduled periodic day off, such as every other Friday
  • 100% of the time in the field with clients or customers

Where can I find information on different working arrangements and office locations?
You can find lots of information to explore alternatives to in-office, full-time employment:

3.  Define your strengths, skills, interests, and experience
How can I assess my strengths, skills and interests? 
  • Discover your strengths and how to tap into them

Can I have an example of a Job Search Datasheet?

A Job Search Datasheet is a repository for data about yourself.  You'll update it, reflect on it, and refer to it throughout your search to recall the key skills, knowledge, and experience that you want to emphasize in your marketing materials, relationship-building, and interviewing. Think of it as a single source of data from which to make informed decisions.

You'll also add previous employment information for use in completing applications, just to keep everything in the same place. 

You can format your Job Search Datasheet however you like.  Some job searchers use Word, others PowerPoint or Excel.  Some prefer to compile the data in OneNote or even EverNote.  What should you use?  The application and format that is the most comfortable for you.  Here's an example on a PowerPoint slide.  Note that you may have several slides (or pages or worksheets) as you add to your datasheet.

4.  Define 1-3 potential job titles
What if I want to change careers?
These are my top three recommendations for exploring a new career:
     a.  Info interview people in the job (see below for how-to's).
     b.  Check out Virtual Job Shadow for great videos, etc. of various careers
     c.  Go to oNetOnline for everything you could possibly want about every career
          you could possibly imagine.

How do I conduct an information interview?

An information interview is a great way to find out more about an industry or role you are considering.  Here's how to line up information interviews. 

This article outlines how to conduct an effective information interview, one that gets the information you want and creates a positive relationship with the person you are interviewing.  If you do not conduct a full-blown interview, you can use one or two of these questions to learn more from your social media contacts. 

How can I get feedback on how I might fit into an organization?
See the question above for advice on getting information in an interview with someone who is in the role or organization currently.  But you can also try this technique:
  • Send an email to former colleagues and trusted advisors who know you and your industry/role well. 
  • From a list of potential titles you provide, ask them to rank a list of titles with #1 being the most likely next step in your career. 
  • Include choices that would allow them to indicate where they see you fitting into an organization: manager, director, junior, senior, etc.

How can I learn more about jobs I might like? 
                     Job Outlook with salary

Everyone keeps saying "Follow your passion!"  Is this the time for me to do that?
Maybe, but maybe not.  But it is the time to do some life planning.  Then you'll be able to see where "your passion" fits in.  This article will help you understand the variety of ways you can follow your passion and fulfill your other life goals. 

5.  Finalize your Ideal Work Situation Statements
How do I finalize my Ideal Work Situation Statements?
Just fill in the blanks and sit back and admire your hard work for a few minutes.  Then, figure out how you can best use your Ideal Work Situation Statements (including abbreviated, "talkable" versions). On the back of a business card?  As an "I'm available" ad on Twitter?  As a post on your Facebook page? To communicate with your Board of Advisors?

My ideal work situation is in [city, geographical area, country, my home, either ____ or ____] as a [full-time employee, telecommuter, worker from home, part-time employee, temporary or seasonal employee, contractor, consultant, project worker] in the [specific industry, any industry, or any industry except...] as a [title(s)]. 

My main task would be to [task that can be understood by anyone desiring to help you].

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