When I was laid off in 1997 I was told by many to let everyone know I was starting a job search. I had been successful at my last job and was a star sales performer for many years. People who knew my history were eager to help me. But I knew something wasn't right about their advice.

Don't get me wrong I was certainly appreciative of my colleagues' willingness to help but they made the assumption I would be looking for work that was similar to the work I had done in the past. I wasn't so sure that was what I wanted. Still there was a gnawing feeling in me that I should jump at their offers and get back to work as quickly as possible.

There are three questions job seekers must ask themselves before they start to look for work. Without asking these questions they run the risk of being unhappy in the job they find, not finding the work they want or worse being fired from a job they were unsuited for.

First start with some self assessment questions like: What kind of work do I really want to do? It may be that you loved the work you were doing and do in fact want to return to that type of work. Others of you may have felt you had learned everything you could from that job and were ready to move on to a different experience. Still more of you may have disliked the job you had and were really ready for a change.
What ever your situation now is a perfect time to make a correction in your career path or seek a change.

The second question to answer is: What are my skills, talents, values and qualities? This is a really important question for every job search. Thinking about this before your job search will enable you to put together a job search strategy that will be compelling. You will want to be sure that what you offer to an employer is exactly what is needed for the type of work you want.

Finally the third question you want to ask is: What are the trends I see in the marketplace today? No one wants to be in a dead end job or working for a company whose business is dying. That is exactly what happened to me. AT&T's business had changed dramatically by 1997. Every year there was another layoff because the long distance business was drying up. I could see that it wasn't a good place to be.

The majority of job seekers start in the middle of the job search process. If you've started your search by simply updating your resume and calling your network, back up a bit. By doing the necessary ground work of self assessment and market research, you'll be in a better position to find a job that you will like, in a solid company and a growing industry.

Take action:
1. Make a list of your strengths, skills, and talents. Not sure what they are? Assessments can help. Sometimes assessments are valuable in helping you to identify where your strengths are. There are free ones available on the Internet. Another alternative is to have a coach give you an assessment and review the results with you.

2. Make a list of what you liked and what you hated about your job. Knowing that there will always be parts of your job that you prefer over other parts begin to make a list of activities you really enjoy, ones you like but aren't good at and ones you dislike but are good at. Decide on what is negotiable and what is not.

3. Check websites like the Bureau of Labor Statistics for trends in the industry or industries you are interested in.

Author's Bio: 

Alvah Parker is a Practice Advisor (The Attorneys’ Coach) and a Career Changers’ Coach as well as publisher of Parker’s Points, an email tip list and Road to Success, an ezine. Subscribe now to these free monthly publications at her website: asparker.com

Parker’s Value Program© enables her clients to find their own way to work that is more fulfilling and profitable. Her clients are attorneys and people in transition who want to find work that is in line with their own life purpose. Alvah is found on the web at asparker.com. She may also be reached at 781-598-0388.