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Strategic Job-Search Planning

The job search can be a complex and extensive project, and an exciting one, as well! As with any important project, develop a plan to clarify your goals, stay on track, and move forward. Don’t be alarmed if you do not have all the answers from the start — no one does. That’s actually part of the process: developing a clear sense of what you don’t know and lead you to the information you need to conduct an effective search.

Defining your goals

To find what you are looking for, you need a clear definition of what it is. Define your job goal upfront to change everything about where you look for it and how you pursue it. It will also help you know when you have found it. And when you haven’t.

Defining your job goals upfront will help you know when you have found the right job, and when you haven’t.

Job-search strategies

Once you define your target market, you will need a strategy to penetrate it. Although the most effective job searches are typically multifaceted, not all techniques will, nor should be, used by everyone. As long as they work for you – use them. But if they do not, adjust your tactics!

Finding and verifying email addresses

As you build a list of contacts via online research, LinkedIn or other sources, you locate a name but not an email address. Additionally, you could have an email address but aren’t certain if it’s valid. Here are a few ways to track down and verify email addresses:

  • Check their LinkedIn page. People often provide an email address on their profiles under the “contact info” tab.
  • For a Carolina or UNC Kenan-Flagler alumnus/a check their profile in the Alumni Directory:
  • Google the name and you might yield an email address listed in a document, website, press release and conference proceedings.
  • Find an email for someone on the firm’s website and use that format as a possible email convention.
  • Verify an email address using, which pings the server and reports back whether it’s a valid address.

Action plan

Once you have completed your plan, review it for gaps. Perhaps some sections are still vague and sketchy, others might be empty. Where gaps exist, translate them into questions and where you might find answers. It may be a website, a directory at the library or someone you know. This is when you need to networking and gather information.

Weekly planning

Use your overall action plan to develop a weekly plan. Where you’ve described tactics you intend to utilize and questions you need to answer, create and prioritize a list of tasks for each. Then plan time into your week to devote to each task.

Decide how much time you can devote to job search every week and plan this on your calendar. To fully commit to moving your job search forward, treat these times like any other appointment.

A single task list can quickly become overwhelming and diffuse your focus. Instead, spread your goals over the week with time devoted to each.  This will make your plan more manageable and less stressful. You can avoid the tendency to worry about all that needs doing, since you know you have a time preplanned for each task.