Dear Matt: I’m about to start a new job search but have not had to do it in so long I don’t know how or where to start. Can you help?

Matt says: Before you get started, take some time to assess what’s important in that next job. Is it the opportunity for professional growth? Less stress or responsibility? A shorter commute? Do you want to work for a small or large company? Do you want to completely change your career path?

“There’s no magic formula — a job search is hard work, and it takes discipline and persistence,” says Damian Birkel, author of “The Job Search Checklist: Everything You Need to Know to Get Back to Work After a Layoff.”

Whether you are rebounding after a layoff or simply starting a new job search, many of the same tips and strategies apply. To get started, Birkel recommends finding the answer to these questions:


• What did I like best — and least — about my last job?

• What were my most important and satisfying accomplishments?

• What were my most significant failures? What kind of negative feedback did I receive?

• What was missing from my last job that I want to seek in a new position?

• In which job(s) were you the happiest, and why?

• In which job(s) were you the most successful, and why?

• What management style was the best and the worst you ever experienced? Why?

• If you could start your career all over again, what would you do differently?


Once you identify your plan, ask yourself more questions: With the skills I have now, is the field still a good match for me? Are there additional classes I must take to achieve longevity in the field? Over the long haul, would a career in this field be able to meet my financial needs? Are there other fields to which I could transfer my job skills and interests?

Once you understand this, then it’s time to update your résumé, start networking and searching for jobs. With a plan in place you can research companies and opportunities that may be a match and start to network with people in these industries and professions. Be patient, though, and understand opportunities may come up that don’t match everything on your wish list, so know what concessions you would make before taking the job.

“Building your future career begins with examining your past,” says Birkel. “Throughout your career you learned what you were capable of doing, what you enjoyed doing, and what you hated doing but needed to do to get the job done.”

Understand that, put together a plan and get started. To do that, get back to the basics.

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