Proper Preparation is Key in the Job Search Process

By Dr. Howard Gauthier

You must be prepared if you are going to be successful in securing a new job.  This preparation pertains to all five stages of the job search process – Assessment Stage, Preparation Stage, Connection Stage, Interview Stage and Follow-up Stage.  Each stage is extremely important and if you aren’t prepared in one or more of these stages, you aren’t as prepared as many of the candidates who are interviewing for the same position.

In the Assessment Stage you are discovering what type of position you want to pursue for your career, and you will uncover your strengths, weakness, skills, and abilities.  If you aren’t 100% certain what type of job you want, you aren’t prepared.  You need to spend some time in the assessment stage and figure it out.  If you know what type of job you want, but don’t know your strengths, skills, and abilities, you aren’t prepared.  Knowing these attributes is necessary as you enter the other stages. They will be used in your cover letter, your sales pitch, to answer interview questions, and to follow-up after the interview.  It is critical that you know these attributes and you can sell them to a potential employer.  If you’re unsure what your attributes are, you’re not prepared.

During the Preparation Stage, you need to be prepared by having a quality cover letter, resume, sales pitch, and references.  Most people aren’t as prepared in this area as they think they are or should be.  What are the basics of the cover letter?  What should go into the opening paragraph, the body of the letter, and how do you effectively close the letter?  What are the three sections of the sales pitch?  Why do you have the references you have?  Do you know what each of them will say about you?  If you’re not 100% sure on any of these questions, you’re not as prepared as your competition.

In the Connection Stage, you need to identify the target market you want to pursue for a career, be active in networking into that market, make contact with others in the profession, and promote yourself for jobs.  You should have a marketing plan for promoting yourself.  This includes identifying what promotional techniques and strategies you will use to promote yourself.  Are you using direct contact to network?  Are you attending conventions and conferences to learn about the profession and to get to know others within the profession?  What are your strategies and techniques within your self-marketing plan?  This marketing plan will help you to be prepared for the connection stage of the job search process.

During the Interview Stage you should be preparing for both pre-interview strategies and interview strategies.  In your pre-interview process, are you gathering information about the organization you will be interviewing with?  Do you know who the other interviewees are (or at least how many other interviewees)?   Do you know when the best time to interview is?  Are you practicing your answers to potential interview questions?  You should be.  If not, your competitors will have the upper hand.  During the interview, do you have an Interview Preparation Form that outlines your sales pitch, stories you will tell, your answers to potential questions, questions you will ask, and the process for closing the interview.  To be properly prepared you will need all of this. 

After the interview you will want to implement a strategic follow-up.  This stage is probably the most often overlooked of the five.  That’s because most people are satisfied with completing their interview.  However, did you know that your competition is still working hard to land the job?  Have you strategically attempted to influence the decision of the search committee?   Your opponents are.  If you haven’t, you’re not as organized as you need to be.

Being organized in your job search is one of the most important keys to being successful in landing a new position.  If you aren’t as prepared as you should be, you need to learn the basic skills that successful job seekers use, and then apply these principles.  If you know the techniques and strategies for all five stages of the job search process, you will be landing a new job soon.  Congratulations!  Being prepared and executing the basic fundamental skills is necessary for success.  Just remember, in everything you do, you will want to Execute for Success.


Howard Gauthier is an Associate Professor of Athletic Administration at Idaho State University.  He is a former collegiate athletic director and collegiate basketball coach.  He is also an author of 9 books.  Check out his book, Getting Hired In College Sports – 2nd Edition at or his new book, Execute for Success, at



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