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Bridging the Gap to a New Job

Let's say you're looking for a job as an administrative assistant, for example.

But you're working part-time in an unrelated position. Or you have no job at all.

How do you bridge that gap, the one between where you are and where you want to be?

Try gap analysis.

It's used by Fortune 500 companies to produce multi-million dollar results.

Why not use it yourself to produce a new job?

As defined by Wikipedia, gap analysis is a way to compare the actual with the potential. It's based on asking two key questions about a business:

Where are we now? Where do we want to be?

In your job hunt, ask: Where am I now? Where do I want to be?

If you're unemployed or under-employed, try not to fret. As long as you know where you want to be, your search becomes a simple matter of bridging the gap from here to there.

Having a clear blueprint to build that bridge can remove fear and anxiety, freeing you up to be more productive and happy.

So let's start building a bridge to your new job using gap analysis ...

  1. First, ask yourself: Where am I now?

    Write your answers on paper. Do NOT try to analyze your employment situation in your head -- that's like juggling cats.

    To find out where you are now, you must answer several sub-questions:

    a. What is your job title, if you're working?

    b. Your income?

    c. How many weeks have you been looking for a job?

    Then, examine what you've been doing each day:

    d. How many resumes have you sent by email?

    e. How many resumes have you sent by snail mail?

    f. How many web sites have you uploaded your resume to?

    You should be able to answer these questions rapidly. If not, get organized. Because you can't improve what you don't measure. A good resource for that is, a free service that puts all your tasks and communications in one place.

    Now, here are the final questions to answer:

    g. How many resumes have you hand-delivered to hiring authorities or people in your network?

    h. How many networking conversations have you had by phone?

    i. How many face-to-face networking meetings have you had?

    j. How many new people have you added to your network?

    k. How many job interviews have you been to?

    If you're like most of the thousands of job seekers I've spoken to since 1996, your answers to the people questions (g through k) will be smaller numbers than those to the process questions (d through f).

    This is human nature. It's easier to zap your resume off by email (question d) than to make a phone call (question h) or meet someone (question i).

    But until you start talking to and meeting more people, there will likely be a gap between where you are and where you want to be.

    So ...

  2. Second, ask yourself: Where do I want to be?

    You can't build a bridge to a spot you haven't defined -- that would be madness. Yet, far too many job seekers have no clear job in mind. They are building bridges to nowhere.

    So, answer these questions:

    a. What is your desired job title?

    b. Your desired salary?

    c. Within how many miles from home do you want to work?

    d. What are the 20 companies you most want to work for?

    e. By what date do you want to be working?

    If you're like most people, you've never considered at least two of those questions.

    That's OK -- the purpose of this article is to get you thinking.

    If you're never pondered which 20 companies you want to work for (d) or what your target date for employment is (e), congratulations! You're thinking now. And thinking is how you start to solve problems.

I say start, because thinking is not enough. You'll get hired only after you take action to bridge the gap between where you are and where you want to be.

Here are some ideas to get your creative juices flowing ...

  1. Know your target job title, but don't know how to get there? Call every school you attended and ask the career service office to connect you with fellow alumni who do the job you want to do next. Call them up, offer to buy coffee and meet for 20 minutes so you can ask for advice (if they're local). Mail them a Starbuck's gift card and ask for a "virtual" cup of coffee together, by phone (if they're in another state).

  2. Got a list of 20 ideal employers, but don't know anyone working for them? Ask the people in your network on LinkedIn, Facebook, or your address book.

    Don't worry if nobody you know works at your target employers -- ask them to ask the people they know. The real power of your network lies in your second- and third-level contacts, not in the people you already know.

  3. Don't know what to write on your resume? Find five people doing the work you want to do. Ask to see their resumes. Adapt their language to your situation.

    Can't find five people? Visit Google and search for "Job Title resume" (without the quotes), inserting your ideal job title. You'll find dozens of resumes you can use for ideas.

- Kevin Donlin

Kevin Donlin is contributing co-author of "Guerrilla Marketing for Job Hunters 2.0." Since 1996, he has provided job-search help to more than 20,000 people. For a free glimpse, visit Guerrilla Job Search System DVD.