Plan and Execute Your Job Search Strategy using Gantt Charts!!

• Has your job search hit a plateau?
• Do you wonder if you are on track?
• Would you like a more efficient way to track your progress?

Job search may be one of the most complex, projects, you will ever need to manage! Jump start your Job Search, by getting a realistic view of what you have been doing; right and wrong. Learn the secrets which professional project managers, have been using for years. Use Gantt Charts to track you progress, analyze gaps and set new goals.

I used to teach Professional Business Skills, at a Business and Technology College in Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada. One of the most interesting courses I taught was Project Management. This course was a core requirement for all of the Business, IT and Healthcare professionals at the college. Students learned how to create Gantt Charts to track activities, manage multiple projects and measure their efficacy. I reviewed many interesting student projects from “organizing a surprise birthday party,” to “starting a business.” Using a Gantt Chart, enables you to conceptualize a project and break it into manageable chunks.

Currently, as an MBA Career Counselor at the Robinson College of Business at Georgia State University, I work with 5-600 Graduate students each semester.  Job-seekers all need to create a Job Search Strategy” and “Career Action Plan.” Often, my role is to educate job-seekers, many of whom were suddenly laid off after years with the same company. While contemplating how to do this more effectively, I had an “aha” moment. Why not use Gantt charts for client’s job search? Isn’t job search a complex project? If so, then Project Training Methodology Application would be very useful.

5 Main advantages to using Gantt charts for your Job Search Strategy
o job and task sequencing (understand what needs to be done)
o development of daily, weekly, monthly calendars
o processing idle periods and staying on track
o simplify the flow of deliverables and activities
o due-date assignment/keep yourself accountable
o track your job search Performance and schedules

Definition: Gantt Charts are important tools that can help you plan and manage complex projects.
You can visually see the order in which tasks need to be carried out; identify crucial resources and the times when these resources will be needed the most. This is called the “critical path” method of project management. For a job search, there are many critical and sequential steps and many deadlines for job applications, and postings. Gantt Charts help you to monitor whether the project is on schedule. If it is not, they help you to pinpoint the remedial action necessary to put it back on schedule.

Sequential and parallel activities: In project planning (Critical Path Analysis) some activities are dependent on other activities and must be done in a certain sequence. This is similar to creating a book report outline, after writing the book report. Many of us were guilty of doing this in grammar school. Since part of the grade was dependent of handing in the outline, we just created an outline after the fact. Often, we didn’t understand how the outline, created a succinct framework to guide the book report. Many job seekers, in a panic, just dive into the deep end of a job search. However, without a strategy or a plan, the search often lacks focus and direction and can derail. Also, if the wrong strategy is employed, there may not be much of a response from employers and this can be damaging to a job seekers’ self esteem.

This is not surprising when you learn that less than 5% of North American’s ever receive training in job search. Don’t let your next job be random! For each job search activity, ask yourself if is it sequential/linear or nondependent/parallel? Do you have to hold off on going to a networking event, because you also want to talk to your neighbor, who may have some contacts in your field? No. These tasks are not dependent on each other and can be done “parallel” or concurrently.

How to get started: good online resources. The Mind Tools website lists the steps below to get you started (see info in italics).

Step 1. Create a “task list”, like a shopping list of all activities you will need to complete in your Career Action or Job Search Plan. Below is a task list I helped a client develop. This client was working on career exploration and was planning a major career transition.

My Sample Task List for career exploration and career transition.
1. Career Transition. Find a counselor who is licensed to administer and interpret tests. Take Career tests. Timeline, Career Leader 3 tests of approximately1 hour each.

2. Review your career values, skills, motivators with your counselor.

3. Detailed analysis of core competencies week 3 weeks

4. Research career paths which fit your unique skills (use the database provided with the career test)

5. Chose 1 or 2 industries or 2, specify 3 functional roles, identify 3-5 potential job titles of interest,

6.Research companies, identify 1 or 2 target industries, identify 5+ functional skills and identify 3-5 job titles.

Step 2. Input your task list into an Excel Spreadsheet. For each column of the spreadsheet: list the tasks, the start times, the estimated length of time to complete and earliest start date. Is the task sequential or can it be done parallel with other activities? (more info from the Mind Tools website)

Step 3. Use graph paper with the days or weeks and list all the tasks required

Step 4. Plot the tasks onto the graph paper. Indicate when each task begins, starting on the earliest possible date. Draw it as a bar, with the length of the bar being the length of the task. Above the task bars, mark the time taken to complete them. Schedule them in such a way that sequential actions are carried out in the required sequence. Ensure that dependent activities do not start until the activities they depend on have been completed.

Note: your Gantt chart and subsequent project management diagram, doesn’t need to be fancy or complex to be effective. However, your Excel spreadsheet and Chart will need to include the following columns: Task, Start time, Length of time to complete, Resources and type (sequential or parallel)

Check out the Gantt Chart tutorial on the Purdue University website. This online tutorial enables you to create a Gantt Chart without purchasing “Chart Wizard” software.

Learning how to create a Gantt chart is a skill which can be added to your job search toolkit. You can even go low tech and draw a chart or print a chart and fill in the blanks. Some people who are tactile learners, like to create a basic diagram on paper and use index cards with Velcro on the back to plan the tasks. This gives them the flexibility to interact with their chart, in a physical way.

In Summation: Gantt Charts ca
n help you execute a stellar Job Search

(according to Mind

• Help you to plan out the tasks that need to be completed
• Give you a basis for scheduling when these tasks will be carried out
• Allow you to plan the allocation of resources needed to complete the project, and
• Help you to work out the critical path for a project where you must complete it by a particular date.
• When a project is under way, Gantt Charts help you to monitor whether the project is on schedule. If it is not, it allows you to pinpoint the remedial action necessary to put it back on schedule.

Guest Expert:

© 2010 – All Rights Reserved – Sharon B. Cohen, MA,Dip.Educ, CPRP, Career Counselor and Career Transition Specialist. Read all my Blog postings at

In Atlanta in 2010? Attend a Job-Search Workshop Feb 2 St. Joseph’s Catholic Church. Email me for more details

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