Dr John-Paul Hatala is currently an Assistant Professor at Rochester Institute of Technology in the Human Resource Development Program, a Senior Fellow at the University of Ottawa and an Adjunct Professor at Louisiana State University in the School of Human Resource Education and Workforce Development, Baton Rouge. Additionally, he is the founder of the Social Capital Development firm Flowork International and is Chief Researcher at snagpad.com. He also blogs about career development at contactpoint.ca.
For experienced employment counsellors, the job search process can seem fairly transparent, based on clear, easy-to-grasp principles and steps. But for jobseekers, the process can appear complicated, confusing and full of pitfalls that can derail their efforts to find work. The Job Search Cookbook: A Recipe for Strategic Job Search Management (Get in the Flow Publishing, 2012) by John-Paul Hatala, PhD provides an easy-to-follow, step-by-step “recipe” for an efficient job search.
Hatala suggests that the hardest part of job search is usually not the process of putting together resumes or cover letters, or even going to interviews. Rather, it is facing rejection from potential employers and playing the waiting game after applying for a position or being interviewed. Career development practitioners may take it for granted that clients understand this, but jobseekers who are unaware this comes with the territory may quickly become discouraged and demotivated.
In the book, Hatala emphasizes the importance of jobseekers accepting that rejection is inherent in the process. Often career and employment counsellors play a role in helping clients to cope with this challenging aspect of job search. The better clients understand the process, the better they will be able to cope with the inherent challenges. Managing the process and one’s emotions while engaged in job search are keys to maintaining motivation during the difficult periods when it seems as though lots of effort is being invested but nothing’s happening.
As one ingredient for maintaining motivation and momentum, Hatala encourages jobseekers to identify their Job A and Job B. Like the notion of Plan A and Plan B, jobseekers may not be successful initially in securing their first choice of employment – their Job A. Hatala recommends identifying a Job B – a position that, while not exactly their first choice, may provide them with an opportunity to get into an organization or department where their Job A exists, or to develop skills that would make them more qualified for Job A. If nothing else, Job B may allow jobseekers to maintain an ongoing employment record rather than being out of work for a lengthy period. Jobseekers can conduct parallel job searches for both Job A and Job B, increasing the pool of potential employment opportunities.
Other ingredients Hatala offers include:
- Monitoring job search numbers – the available opportunities, the number of applications an individual submits and the number of interviews they get. Keeping track of these numbers allows jobseekers to see where their efforts are paying off and what’s working or not working in their approach to looking for work.
- Identifying the what, who, when, where and why of the client’s job search (for example, who is involved in their job search, where and when they are looking for work).
- Understanding the hiring cycle. It can take six to eight weeks in many cases to fill entry-level positions, longer for more specialized positions. Applicants may not be aware that they are entering a hiring cycle very late in the process (i.e. some weeks after a job has been posted), then end up frustrated because it seems they weren’t even considered. In some cases, organizations have already made a hiring decision even though a position appears to still be open. Maintaining momentum by continuing to apply for positions is critical. The applications that the client submits today may take many weeks to bear fruit so understanding this aspect of the process is important for jobseekers to minimize their frustration at how long it takes to find work.
This is just a “taste” of the ingredients in Hatala’s book, which is written in readable, transparent language that would be suitable for most clients. He offers many helpful job search “snacks” (tips) and “taste tests” (written exercises) to keep the reader engaged. Whether you are assisting a client through their employment travels and trials, or you have a client who can work unassisted, The Job Search Cookbook provides a good recipe for executing a successful job search. Now that’s cookin’!
Diane Moore, M.Ed., CMF, is a Professor and Co-ordinator at George Brown College in the Career and Work Counsellor Program and is Vice-Chair of the Provincial Stewardship Group for certification in Ontario. She has worked in the field of career counselling, adult education, consulting and outplacement for the past twenty-five years.