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Susan D. Strayer on Dream Jobs

Susan D. Strayer on Dream Jobs

Susan D. Strayer has experienced both worlds: the corporate world, where she worked as a recruiter, and the job-seeker’s world. Today, Strayer is an experienced career coach and corporate recruiter, a certified as a senior professional in human resources. She is the author of two books on careers, including the most recent The Right Job, Right Now: The Complete Tool-Kit For Finding Your Perfect Career. In addition, she has been quoted in numerous publications, including The Washington Post, The Baltimore Sun and Newsweek, and has been featured on radio programs such as “Oprah and Friends.” Here, Strayer discusses the first 30 days of finding your dream job.

How should people get started in their efforts to land our dream jobs?

Professionals think that sending out a resume is the best way to start a job search when that is, in fact, the middle of the process!

Treat the job search like a very, very important project. You need a timeline, resources, milestones and goals. Spend time on the front end researching what you have to offer and what you want in return. A job search can be emotional, but if you dedicate the same time, resources and energy to it as you do to the other important aspects of your life—home, relationships, hobbies—you’ll find it much more rewarding.

What are the most important things to do in the first 30 days?

Create a project plan, research the type of job that is the best fit for you and spend time making sure you have a focus before you take action with resumes and cover letters. Make sure you know what you are selling, who you are selling to and exactly what you are looking for before you try to “sell” yourself to an employer.

Who is it important to be while pursuing your dream job?

It is important to be your introspective self. Don’t spend the early days of your search as a marketer sending out resumes. Focus more on you as the “product.” Figure out what qualities you are selling.

Why are the first 30 days such a vital time for this job hunt?

If you start out poorly or jump directly to the search phase, it will take much longer to find a job and you will burn out quickly when no one responds to the 2,090 resumes you’ve sent.

What makes people successful in their dream job search?

They understand who a recruiter is and how the process works. They have focus, focus, focus! A successful job search isn’t about volume. I had a client who had sent out almost 500 resumes during the course of a year and couldn’t understand why no one was responding. I started working with him, had him focus on very specific types of jobs and less than ten companies. His focus allowed him to make sure the positions and companies were an extremely good fit and allowed him to spend much more time on the materials and contacts he was making. Go for depth, not breadth.

How should people structure their dream job search?

It depends on how much time and energy you devote to the search. Ideally, you should at least review your career history, research interests and companies and decide on a focus before you even think about a resume. Use a good model to help you navigate through these early steps. My Career Kaleidoscope model, described in my book The Right Job, Right Now, is an easy-to-understand way to do this.


What is the belief you personally go to during times of change?

Patience and perseverance on the front end saves you time and frustration later.

The best thing about change is...

…if you do it right, you’ll know as you’re going through it that it’s right.

What is the best change you have ever made?

Deciding to move into coaching. It was the right change for me at the time and I did my research to ensure the focus was right.

For more information on Susan D. Strayer, visit www.susanstrayer.com.

Posted: 10/3/07

The concept of identifying a group of companies that "fit" is extremely helpful. I was a substitute teacher when my children were young and I learned that I was called more often when I narrowed the number of schools I would travel to. It makes sense to identify the companies I would most like to work for as well as knowing what job I would like to hold.


I found this out on a very personal level recently as I attempted to reenter the work world after five years away. I did not want to return to the field that I had worked in previously and at the same time, I did not want to get caught in the endless cycle of 'resumes out, vulnerability in'. Taking the time to research what I really felt strong in and finding the industry that would compliment my abilities proved a lot less stressful than the usual diarrhea of 'pick me, I am desperate' lists that would leave my email's sent box. It is always worth the time and effort to choose your career and not vice versa.