2.1 Why You Need a Process

Learning Objectives

  1. Better understand how you can use the six steps.
  2. Recognize the importance of flexibility in the process so you can adapt to job market conditions.
  3. Lay the foundation for getting started on your job search.

The Six Steps Are Meant to Be Followed Sequentially

The six steps of the job search process are laid out in sequential order so you can follow them one at a time:

  • You need to know what you want (step 1) in order to act on your job search.
  • You want to have your marketing material in place (step 2) before you meet with any prospective employers.
  • You want to research jobs, companies, and industries (step 3) to prepare for meeting prospective employers. This is detailed research into trends, challenges, culture, and other nuanced information. Some of this research will entail speaking to people in the areas you are targeting for your search, so you want to have your marketing ready to be shared.
  • You network and interview (step 4) with prospective employers you discover from your research.
  • You have to stay motivated and organized (step 5) as you juggle these meetings and absorb all the information you are learning. At this point, you may also see some problems with your search that need troubleshooting (also step 5).
  • All these networking meetings and interviews culminate in a job offer that you negotiate (step 6) with your future employer.

Many job seekers are overwhelmed at the beginning of their job search. There seems to be so much to do—résumés, interviews, and social mediaOnline communities where you can interact (or socialize) with other people. Facebook and LinkedIn are two examples of popular social media.. It is not surprising that many job seekers are afraid of networking!

A sequential job search process means that you don’t have to worry about what comes next. Focus on where you are for your search, and give yourself time on that step. Before you worry about résumés (or other items in step 2), let yourself explore possibilities, ideals, and desires (step 1). Before you get too anxious about interviewing (step 4), know that you will have the preparation of knowing yourself (step 1), positioning yourself effectively (step 2), and learning about the people and companies you will meet through in-depth research (step 3). There will be time for the job search to progress.

The Six Steps Also Overlap and Should Be Done Concurrently

However, as you move through your job search sequentially, this doesn’t mean that you never revisit what you’ve already done. For example, if you are at the stage where you are meeting people (step 4), you are collecting information from these meetings. You might learn that a particular skill or experience is even more important than you initially thought. You may decide to go back to your marketing (step 2) to highlight these items even more in your résumé or structure future cover letters in a different way to emphasize this new information. These marketing changes will happen while you are still interviewing. In the thick of your job search, you will be juggling the six steps concurrently.

You might be juggling different job search targets, each of which is at a different stage. For example, you are interested in sales positions in both the technology industry and the pharmaceutical industry. You start your search focusing on technology companies and you are now at the interview stage with several of them. You have traction in this target, so you add pharmaceutical companies to the mix. You want to research these more before approaching them for interviews, so you are at step 3 for pharmaceuticals, but at step 4 for technology.

While you want to follow the steps sequentially, recognize that there will be instances in your search that the steps are revisited and therefore taken out of sequence. This is a natural part of the search process as you interact with people and situations evolve. Be flexible. Know that you will be learning things along the way—information about jobs, companies, and industries that aren’t advertised—and gaining feedback about your skills and experience. You want to adapt your job search process to these new pieces of information.

Starting on the Six Steps Requires a Solid Foundation

The six-step job search process gives you tactics for how to get from where you are to your next job. It is based on the mechanics of how the job market plays out between employers and job candidates. This is important because job seekers often don’t know what to do to secure a job. They may know how to do the job—that is, they have the selling and communication skills and experience for the sales job itself—but getting the job, convincing someone to hire you, is different from doing the actual job. It is the difference between being a good driver and being able to pass the road test. You want to prepare for the road test (in this case, the job search process) in order to get a chance to drive.

But these tactics of the six-step job search process assume you have some fundamentals in place. Getting your driver’s license also assumes you have certain fundamentals—for example, knowledge of traffic laws and proper eyesight. Here are some key fundamentals you will need to launch your job search:

  • Confidence (100 percent belief you will get a job and a positive attitude)
  • Communication skills (written, verbal, presentation, and listening)
  • PoiseThe way you carry yourself. Someone with poise walks, talks, and behaves in a dignified, self-confident manner. (dress, manners, and body language)
  • Resources (time, space, office supplies, budget for clothes, transportation, etc.)

With these fundamentals in place, you can use the process to take you through the mechanics of your search.

Key Takeaways

  • The six steps of the job search are sequential because one step leads into the next.
  • It is helpful to follow the sequence so you are not overwhelmed by doing everything at once and so you can build a progression.
  • The six steps of the job search are concurrent because each step influences the others.
  • It is helpful to allow the six steps to overlap so you can use the information and feedback from each step to strengthen and refine the others.
  • The six-step process assumes you have some fundamental skills and resources in place, including confidence, communication skills, poise, and physical resources.


  1. Looking at the six-step job search approach, what step(s) do you feel most comfortable with? Least comfortable with? Each step will be detailed in subsequent chapters, but you may want to budget your time to focus on the ones where you are most uncertain.
  2. Do you have some job targets in mind? An entire chapter describes how to specify your target even further (or to elicit targets if you can’t think of any). Make a list of your interests right now. Think about how the six-step job search process would apply if you were looking for a job in your areas of interest.