You’re Wasting Your Time If You’re Not Focusing Your Job Search Like This…

You're wasting your time if you're not focusing your job search

When thinking about how to find a new job, it is very useful to narrow your thinking down somewhat.

Otherwise you will waste your time and make little progress if you try to search for any old job.

There are several things you should do to narrow down your focus to make your job search more effective.

Know what you want from your job search

First of all, it’s useful to know what kind of job and career you want in an ideal world.

It’s always good to start with your dream job in mind and look for that. Perhaps you might not always be able to get your dream job for one reason or another, but why would you not even try?

So figure out what motivates you and what you really want to do.

Do you enjoy working with the public? Do you prefer working alone? Do you like working outdoors? Are you money orientated? Do you like to help people in your work?

Think about what you enjoy doing, and what kind of jobs offer the things that you like.

You should also think about this:

What kind of industry do you want to work in?

For example, some people prefer to work in the public sector rather than the private sector because they feel it offers more in terms of job satisfaction.

Narrowing things down even further, is there a particular company that appeals to you that you really want to work for?

There may be a clear leader in your area of work that you would love to work for, or you may really like the values of a certain company, or maybe there is a working culture at some company that takes your fancy.

Think about this, and form a list of any specific companies you want to target.

What skills have you got?

Ok great – now you have an idea of what you want to do in an ideal world. So now let’s consider what you can do based on your skills and experience.

So consider what your key skills are, so that you can focus on jobs that require these skills.

Are you a great communicator? A great leader? Do you have fantastic computer programming skills? Do you speak more than one language? What training and qualifications do you have?

Knowing what your skills are will help you focus on certain industries and vocations that you are suited for. However, you should be aware that many skills are transferable between industries.

So for example, if you have good admin skills from working in an office based role in the automotive industry, you would be able to perform a similar admin role in the banking industry, even if you have no prior experience of banking.

Be sure to consider what skills you have that are transferable rather than consider them simply in isolation of the industry that you gained them in.

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What level are you?

So now we know what motivates you and what type of job you would like to have, and we know what skills you have.

Now let’s consider what level of job you should be applying for.

If you have an existing job…

…there is no immediate pressure to find a new job other than the pressure you put on yourself. In this instance, you have the luxury of being able to select the roles that:

  • Are more senior than your current role;
  • Will advance your career;
  • Allow you take on more responsibility;
  • You simply enjoy more than your current one;
  • Give the opportunity to earn a greater salary;
  • Or any other reason that you consider as a step up.

Therefore you can focus on roles that are ‘above’ your current level, if that’s what your career aims are.

If you don’t currently have a job…

…or are about to end an existing role, your motivations might be slightly different.

If you can afford to go a period of time without work, then you can avoid rushing into a role that might not be considered a career advancement.

If, however, you really need to find a job quickly then you may want to consider looking at roles that are in-line with, or perhaps even slightly below, your current level of seniority.

Whilst this may not be considered a step forward in your career, if needs must then you should not be too proud to make this step.

You can always continue your job search whilst working.

You may also have different motivations for changing roles

Perhaps you are about to start a family and work is less important to you now.

Or perhaps you are approaching retirement and want less responsibility. Or perhaps you simply want to adjust your work / life balance more in the favour of ‘life’.

In any of these instances you may be looking for a role at a more junior level than you current one.

Another point to consider when thinking about your level is around changing industries.

It is not uncommon for people to move to a new job of the same or lower level when moving to a new industry. Often this can be a good way to facilitate a change of industry when you have no previous experience in that sector.

One of the reasons for considering your level is to help you use the appropriate methods for job searching.

For example, executive level candidates will use different resources in their job search to admin level resources.

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What are your commitments?

Now you know what you want to do, what skills you have got, and what level role you are looking for.

Now you should consider where and when you can work.

Can you commute? If so, how far? Are you able to, or do you want to, work away from home? This could include travelling with work for sustained periods of time. Do you want to, or need to, work from home?

Having an understanding of your willingness to travel to and with work will help you further narrow down opportunities to focus your job search.


If you’re about to embark on a job search, or you’re in the depths of one right now, remember that it is crucial to focus your efforts to avoid wasting valuable time and effort.

To help in your focus, consider:

  • What you actually want to do, if you could do anything;
  • How your existing skills can help you find a new job;
  • What level of job you should be aiming for, and if you need to adjust the level for any reason;
  • Logistically, what is realistic and can be managed with your lifestyle and commitments.

You can now follow these tips to add focus to your job search, and avoid wasting your valuable time looking at roles that simply aren’t right for you.

Now get cracking with your job search! We’re sure you will make great progress, and you will need to start preparing a great resume / CV, thinking about acing telephone interviews, and how to perform well in assessment centres before you know it.