I believe everyone deserves to do work they love.  Work that is fulfilling and fun. Work that uses your talents and most-cherished skills. Work that you would do for free if you could afford to do that. Work that “fits” you – your “right fit” work.

This usually is a job, in our current economy. More and more people are starting their own businesses, so they can do work they love.

I also believe it’s in your power to get your “right fit” work. In fact, it is more effective to search for work that fits you than to look for “just any job.” In today’s job market, employers are looking for their own “right fit” candidates.  It makes their job easier when you demonstrate how you really fit their needs, solve their problems.

Here’s a short road map to finding your “right fit” job. (If you’re interested, my e-book contains much more detailed information on each of these points.)

  1. Zero in on what you really want to do. What do you love doing? What do you do well? What do you want to do again? What, if any, difference do you have to make? In what physical environment and organizational culture do you thrive? What’s your “I can live with this” number for compensation? This is your “must have list.”
  2. Develop a short professional profile and powerful resume. The profile and resume content will be linked together for a seamless document that presents you exactly as you want others to see you. It will convey your “core value proposition” to an employer as well as some of your values and personality traits – hints to what culture will suit you best. Chronological resumes are highly favored by HR people and electronic screening software alike. To ensure that people and software can quickly find your key skills (also known as “key words”), include a section called “Core Capabilities” that is a list of 9 to 15 items you do really well and love doing. You can tweak those to match specific job descriptions.
  3. Come up with your networking spiel (otherwise known as the “elevator pitch”). This is essentially your intention regarding the skills you want to achieve some kind of impact; what problems you want to solve for an employer; industries or roles you have some experience with; and potential roles you could see yourself in. Use this in emails and in person.
  4. Identify people with whom you can (and want to) network to get advice and guidance on your job search (not a job!), and look at how to connect with people you don’t yet know. This includes using LinkedIn, Facebook and other social networking sites. For instance, Jibe is a new job posting & application site that connects with your LinkedIn and Facebook contacts. Start with people you know, including neighbors, former colleagues and classmates. Most jobs are found via a second, third or fourth degree connection, so ask for recommendations and referrals to other people who could offer “advice and guidance.”
  5. Find jobs that interest you, and decode the job description to see if, on its face, the job matches or could match a majority of your Must Have List. Job descriptions contain lots of clues to job scope and responsibility level, organizational culture, and core skills you need.  See where your experience and skills match the job description. This will serve as the basis for developing cover letters.
  6. Develop a powerful and persuasive cover letter format and content that will help you get interviews. Getting interviews is the only goal of the cover letter. It is the only place you can make the case for why you are the “right fit” for this particular job, so always include a cover letter tailored to the specific position. Literally match your experience to the key responsibilities. A cover letter also is the only place you can express your enthusiasm for the job and company. Demonstrate that you know and are excited about the company, its product, vision, mission, purpose, values.
  7. Go through your interview concerns. Get comfortable with potentially difficult questions by doing some rehearsal and role play for difficult questions. Rehearse enough that you are very natural in your responses. There are many sites that offer sample interview questions; find them and identify the ones you think you’ll have the most trouble with. Then write answers down and rehearse them with someone several times.  Also, know your resume inside out. Have one or two stories that illustrate your core capabilities in each position. Know what three points you want the interviewer to remember about you, and come back to them often in the interview. Finally, come up with questions that you need answered to help you determine if this really is a “right fit” for you.
  8. Talk through any issues and strategies. Get a buddy with whom you can track your emotional state as you move through the interview process.  A spouse or partner can sometimes be too invested in the outcome to be the objective support you need.  You’re going to be so much more successful if you have a person to help you through this process. A coach, a friend with whom you make an agreement for weekly contact, a mentor – these are all options.
  9. Leave no stone unturned in the search. Keep going after every recommendation, every contact, every person you can talk with, every opportunity that may appear.  Even if you think “I’ve already tried that,” maybe there’s a new approach you can take.  It’s important to keep busy, keep active, keep identifying and pursuing new approaches to get you to your goal.  This does not mean pursuing opportunities UN-related to your target job. It means not pre-judging a situation, and seeing what may transpire. Job search is like dating – you have to kiss a lot of frogs before you find your prince/princess. Keeping active and out there is the way people find jobs.