Job seekers know what they don’t want. When asked, professionals can easily name all the things they don’t want in the next job – a micro-managing boss, strict office hours, or constant travel. Often, we neglect to consider what would actually make us happy.

The result: We attract what we don’t want. The government worker who hated the strict hours is attracted to what they know—and ends up with another by-the-clock job. The salesperson or consultant who is trying to avoid travel ends up with an even bigger territory and nearly constant travel.

Why? Because change is uncomfortable. We would rather be with the devil we know than take a chance on something outside our comfort zone.  Job transitions are tough because so much of our life is up for change—our financial future, our living situation, our social circle, our community support. With so much at stake, it’s actually most likely that we will choose something comfortable—and land up in the same scenario that drove us nuts before.

What’s the solution? Having a plan helps. Creating a Job Search Plan that includes your desired job title, corporate culture, industry, geography, size of company, etc. will give you direction—and courage—during your job search. A plan helps you keep focused and moving forward. A plan helps you screen opportunities and choose to pursue them, rather than blindly pursuing anything that pops up on your radar screen.

We fail to plan because we’re not sure of all the steps. A new style plan doesn’t need steps—just a statement of what you want. Spend some time reading, thinking and journaling about your future. If you can sketch out a description of your desired job and your desired future life, you will be on your way. When you care enough to really plan for the future, you can create so much more of what you want.

It’s ironic, but the best way to learn about a company is to interview for a job. Don’t be afraid to pursue a position just because you “guess” the company or the job has some unwanted feature.  Go ahead and apply. While they are screening candidates, you can Google the company and have information interviews with employees of that company. If you get positive vibes, charge ahead.

You can’t win if you don’t play. You will never get a job offer if you don’t apply. So, apply freely and often. The worst that can happen: you get a chance to practice your interview skills. You get a chance to check out another employer in your community. It’s all good.

When you are careful what you wish for, you’re much more likely to get it.

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