Whether you are fresh grad looking for a job, or an entrepreneur looking to go the star-up route, or even someone looking to buy a used car; you have one thing in common. You have a task that needs to go from A to Z and you need to systematically approach things if you want to come out successful at the other end. Otherwise you will end up with out a job, with a failed start-up, or with a lemon of a car that will cost you twice as much as you paid for it and long times in the repair shop. And you end up saying it’s bad luck.
What I mention below is an adaptation from the approaches of UCD and UX but can be applied anything in life. Since I am currently a fresh grad looking for a job, I will go with the example of a fresh grad looking for a job and how the 8 steps applies to it.
- 1 – Brainstorm – Before starting anything you should have a brainstorming session. While brainstorming is best done with one or two individuals like your partners, colleagues, or friends, but you can still achieve some good results even if you do it individual. Start by just writing down things that come to your mind when you think about the subject. They could be important topics, related topics, things to consider, things to worry about, steps needed to be taken, resources needed to execute things, and any other thing that pops into your mind about the topic. The aim is to end of with a few good pages filled with ideas and related matter that you can use in the next phase.
Grad job seeker example: How is the job situation in Finland? What sort of things should be doing? What platforms should I use? How do I write my CV? What are the best sites for finding a job?
- 2 – Research – One you have a base of important topics that you thought of in the brainstorm session, it’s time to get dirty with research. Don’t be afraid to search google, Bing, and even Yahoo! First use general terminology to get some basic ideas of what you should be focusing on, then be more specific and get a better idea. Social media such as Facebook and Instagram, in addition to forums are also a good source to get some information but you must make sure the info you find checks out and is not just a fictional or made up story by someone just bored. YouTube is also an incredible source of information if you prefer visual elements more than words.
Grad job seeker example: What are some of the top job sites in Finland? How do I get in touch with start-ups in Finland? What are companies in Finland looking for in a potential employee? What sort of companies are best suited for my expertise?
- 3 – Get help – If you are comfortable with your own research and feel that things are going well, good job. But still, getting help is almost always an added value. Find the people who are considered gurus and top notch in the field and get their input. Someone with experience in the specific topic always has something to add to your knowledge that will probably let you avoid pitfalls, mistakes, and failures. Probably because they learned it the hard way and they can offer you a safe route.
Grad job seeker example: Asking alumni who are already working in the Finnish job market what platform works best in Finland, Asking my supervisor who has extensive work experience in Finland which jobs would suit me best, Asking directly from the CEO of start-ups how could I impress them, Asking help from professionals in my network for advice on making my profile more appealing.
- 4 – Plan – Once you are happy with the information you attained and have some backbone and foundation of the topic, it’s time to plan. I had a professor in my bachelor days who always used to say “If you fail to plan, you plan to fail”. Simple, right? The planning phase is essential into making sure you succeed. It should include all the elements of when, where, how, who, and what. You should know exactly what you will doing at each step and what do you need to achieve it and all the find gritty details.
Grad job seeker example: Update my LinkedIn profile to all star (week 1), Get recommendations from those who have seen my work (week 1), Update my CV with the latest trends and designs (week 2), List all suitable platform to apply (week 3), Prepare different cover letters to be customized (week 3), Apply for jobs (week 4 onward), Write my own blog (week 4 onwards)
- 5 – Set goals – Setting goals is an absolute must. Goals must be a. realistic, b. relevant, and c. achievable. So, make sure that you think about it before throwing some random things in here. Don’t overdo this step, 3-5 goals is good enough for a good start and as you progress you can iterate your goals and make changes based on your results.
Grad job seeker example: Get 6 recommendations, Apply to 10 UX jobs per month, Apply to 10 marketing jobs per month, Write 3 blogposts per week
- 6 – Execute – It’s time to get things done. This is where the plan comes in handy, so if you have it noted down start executing your plan and follow the phases and the timeline. Don’t do everything at one and don’t expect things to go the way you want. Remember Murphy’s law that “Anything that can go wrong, will go wrong”. Keep your mind focused on doing every task in the plan as good as possible before moving to the next part.
Grad job seeker example: Start the day at 9:30 and after a cup of coffee start following the plan and execute the required tasks, Note down all the jobs I applied and the replies I got, Not down anything that needs to be changed, Contact connections and network.
- 7 – Evaluate outcomes – Evaluating the outcomes can be done after you achieve a certain part of your plan and can evaluate the outcomes (goals you set earlier). It can be after a week, a month, a quarter, or even a year. But Remember the sooner you evaluate and find points of failure, the easier and cheaper are the mistakes you made.
Grad job seeker example: Not many UX jobs are found in Finland for fresh grads, I got only 3 recommendations, I have done only 2 blog posts over the past 3 weeks, I was told to share my portfolio so I need to work on that
- 8 – Iterate – The final step is to make the necessary changes based on your results. If you see that the goals you set earlier were achieved then you can set new ones that are more challenging to reach, if you see that the plan timeline was too short then you can adjust it. Ideally, this step would be included in every step along the way and at any moment if you feel that you need to step back and change something, you should do that.
Grad job seeker example: Adjust the goals, add making a UX portfolio to the plan, Start doing pro-bono projects that will spread the word about my knowledge, Increase blog posts.
Hopefully you have now grasped a new perspective on how to get things done more efficiency and in a systematic way. No matter what you do, I wish you success and a great learning journey. Feel free to comment your opinions and discuss your point of view as well.