The Art of Finding a Job

May 1st, 2013 | Articles, Job Search | No Comments »

The tactics involved in searching for a job are not much different from those used in war, and there are certain bits of wisdom that can be taken from military engagements that can help you reach your goal.

In The Art of War, the renowned Chinese tactician Sun Tzu breaks down the strategy of going to war into thirteen parts, each of which can be interpreted as steps to helping you land a job.

Laying Plans/The Calculations

Whether you are a first time job seeker, recently unemployed, or just looking for a better opportunity it is important to take a moment to consider the journey you are about to embark on. Prepare yourself, focus on your goals, and then set out to accomplish them. Most importantly, remember to think of the companies you will be applying for as allies who present great opportunities, not as enemies who must be defeated. The real enemy is the stress, confusion, and difficulty of finding a job.

Waging War/ The Challenge

The economics of job seeking is costly. It may require you to live below your means for quite some time, as every day you spend searching will cause you to fall farther into the red. It may take some time for you to land the right position so it is important to live within your means. This isn’t the time to renovate your house or buy the car you have always wanted.

Attack by Stratagem/ The Plan of Attack

Have a plan and stick to it. If you work best in the morning, then get up early and work hard. If you prefer to sleep in and get a later start, do so. If you are a night owl and prefer to work late into the night, then that is your time to strike. Know what works for you and stick to it. Set a time of day (a few hours) when you will look for jobs, work on your resume, skill build, network, etc. Stick to your schedule and make sure you get closer to your goal every day.

Tactical Dispositions/ Positioning

Your position on the battlefield is crucial to victory. Equate this to your social media footprint. Get active on every social networking site you know of. Using these sites to promote yourself and gather Intel on companies that are hiring can be an effective strategy. Find out who does the hiring and where the company is headed in terms of short and long term goals. Just make sure not to hurt yourself in the process. Mistakes such as not tailoring your resume and cover letter to each individual job can hurt your chances of success.

Energy Directing

Get creative in how you search for a job. There are more ways to find jobs than the typical website. Research recruiters, employment agencies, or job fairs to broaden your search. Also, know the importance of timing. Follow up on your applications and never forget to touch base after you have had an interview to thank them for taking the time to speak with you.

Weak Points and Strong/Illusion and Reality

Know your strengths (research, communication, networking, creativity) and use them. Conversely, know your weak points and work to improve them. Make yourself more marketable by expanding your skillset. Also, look for weakness in the companies you apply to. Gear your cover letter towards explaining how your skills can improve their methods and productivity.

Maneuvering/Engaging the force

Rushing headstrong into the fray isn’t always the best option. Sometimes it is best to skip applying via the company website and instead contact someone in human resources. They may be able to tell you more about certain positions available.

Variations in Tactics/The Nine Variations

You must be able to shift your tactics and adjust to newer ways of doing things. Video interviews have already caught up in popularity to phone interviews. Learn how to conduct yourself in front of a webcam. Technology is changing and you must adapt to it. Do not allow yourself to fall too far behind industry terminology or technology.

The Army on the March/Moving the Force

Learn to evaluate the intentions of others. This is essential when you move on to the interview process. You will be on the home field of the company, so it is good to know them inside and out. The more you know about the company’s goals the better you will be. Similarly, it is important to understand the motive behind some of the more tricky questions you will be asked. Something like, “where do you see yourself in five years?” should be interpreted as the company asking how you see this job fitting into your future plans. Know the intentions of the interviewer and react accordingly.

Terrain/Situational Positioning

Make sure your social media footprint is clean. Google Plus and LinkedIn accounts are great, as well as anything on Facebook or your own personal website/blog. These types of accounts show how professional and creative you can be, but can also be damaging if you are careless. Pictures of you crashing a party on Facebook are not attractive to potential employers.

The Nine Situations/ Nine Terrains

Think about how you utilize the Internet, social media, job fairs, recruiters, and your networking capabilities. Don’t limit yourself to just one method. It is repetitive and can kill your moral. Internships and temp positions are great ways to get your foot in the door.

The Attack by Fire/Fiery Attack

Applying for jobs can be a game of numbers. You want to send out as many resumes as you can without compromising their quality (too many resumes sent out can hurt your chances, especially if you are sending out generic copies with the same cover letter). Each resume should be carefully planned, but at the same time you want to keep sending out as many as you can.

The Use of Spies/The Use of Intelligence

Network, network, network. This cannot be stated enough. The longer your list of allies, the more powerful your search will become.

By Kevin Withers

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