The 4 Job Search Questions You Need To Think About

Posted by Patra Frame

I recently read a rant by a job seeker who said no application should take any more effort than sending his resume, and a one-hour interview should be enough for a company to make an offer. While many hiring processes could be improved, the match between a company and an applicant does take thought and effort on both sides. How you handle this will either enhance your success – or hinder it.

The job search questions you need to think about for success are:

  1. What do you want to do next?
  2. What job (by title and scope) offers the work you want to do? Do you meet the common requirements for the job? If not, what do you need to learn or do?
  3. What specific requirements do you have for your next job? What have you learned in the past year that you want to use now? Think in terms of your goals and needs.
  4. Which specific employers offer the job you want and the environment in which you can succeed?

Whatever your current job level, age or wishes, these questions are vital for you to answer clearly. Your plan to do so can be for a few weeks or six months or longer but you do need to answer all the questions to find the employer and job where you can succeed.

Start with basic information gathering. The toughest question to answer above is often #1 – What do you want to do next? The easy answer is whatever is the linear “next job” above your current one. But is that the right answer for you now?

  • What do you love and hate about your current job?
  • What interests and skills do you want to use more in the next job?
  • What are you bored with doing?

Turn inward first to think about these questions but do not undervalue the ideas and information you can gain about yourself from family and friends. Taking the time to think about your needs, wants, next steps, and longer-term goals will help you move forward.

The next toughest thing to think about is #3 – the specifics of what you want in your next job. So many people focus mainly on the title and the money. Yet there are many other things you might be hoping for, or don’t assess until you get a job offer and have to decide. This is a question you can only solve by thinking about what is really important to your future. Sure, all of us have had a time when we just needed an income. But that is rarely enough.

Common needs and wants include:

  • A specific environment that you work well within
  • One-two benefits which make a big difference to you or your family
  • The quality of the people you work with
  • The commute
  • The technology
  • Developmental options – internal and external
  • Travel or not
  • Matching values
  • Mission
  • Growth options

Think about yours carefully and incorporate them in your assessment process for jobs and employers. I write these things down in a notebook – and research shows that putting your thoughts into writing (on paper or computer) really helps you clarify your goals and needs. You may edit this as you move through your job search, but it helps to have done this work as fully as possible first.

Once you have worked through what is important to you now, you are ready to move on to gathering information about specific jobs and employers. While search engines are your friend, the most helpful information usually comes from your friends and connections.

You want to ask questions and seek information on:

  • What are the best jobs for your skills and goals?
  • What is the current market like for those jobs?
  • What environment and culture are currently at the employers which interest you?

Following the self assessments and information gathering, you are ready to create your marketing approach and materials. Remember, your resume is an advertisement and not a biography. Select the high-points and most relevant achievements for the job you want next to write it. Edit your social media profiles with that next job in mind too. Select the people you want to act as references and ask them to do so.

Set up a strategy to find the job you want. Remember: It is ‘who knows you’ that helps you get the right job. People are key resources for you. Then include job boards, like, where you can establish a search agent too. Carefully select job fairs which are most likely to have employers of interest. These can be useful ways to gain information and meet people. Just going to big general job fairs is usually not and wastes your time.

The more experienced you are or the more expert, the fewer jobs are likely to be available. If you are looking for management, subject expert, or senior technical roles – work your network. Employers prefer employee referrals at any level, but they love them for mid-level or above positions.

Then go into your interviews – of any kind – prepared to assess the employer for their suitability for your goals. What questions will you ask? What answers are you looking for? What does their reaction to your questions tell you? And how does their employment process track with their claims about employee value or innovation or their culture claims?

Interviewing is a two-way street: each party has something of value to offer and something to gain.

Job search is difficult for most people. The process is often opaque, many players are untrained, the likelihood of being ignored or rejected is high. Hence, your plan must also include ways to keep yourself going. Spend time with hobbies that you enjoy, get outside into nature, talk with people who care about you. Do all the things you know you should to keep yourself focused and sane. The right job is there for you and with these steps above, you significantly improve your chances of finding it and getting the right offer.

Patra Frame is ClearedJobs.Net’s HR Management Consultant. She is an experienced human resources executive and founder of Strategies for Human Resources. Patra is an Air Force veteran and charter member of the Women in Military Service for America Memorial. Follow Patra on Twitter @2Patra.


This entry was posted on Monday, May 16, 2022 8:29 pm

2 thoughts on “The 4 Job Search Questions You Need To Think About”

  1. Thanks! Job search is difficult and so often we move right into the actions without realizing we need to think about where we want to go next first.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Notify me of updates to this conversation