Quality Event Objectives | Foundation 2 – Lesson 2

Go back to Job Search Prep Syllabus.

Preparing for a Quality Event

A Quality Event needs to have a purpose, a goal, and an object. The object should be conducive to success: it should be challenging, achievable, and it should provide ongoing feedback on progress.

For example, when skiing, Jason’s goal is rarely to have a great day, because that’s often too much to manage. So he breaks it down, and create mini-objectives like trying a new run, or different technique, or stringing 20 turns together through the bumps. Sometimes, it’s just to get around the next one bump, or something else that is small and challenging, yet controllable.

Objectives can also change moment to moment. For a job searcher, objectives might be: Make 30 calls this hour. Research 3 companies before lunch. Meet with 5 new people by the end of the week. Work out before lunch. Read 4 blogs and make 3 comments today. The objectives themselves are not important. What is important is that they meet the following criteria:


Your objective needs to be something you can do. If your last job was as a server in a chain restaurant and your objective is to get hired as the CEO of a Fortune 500 company, you may be overreaching a bit. To help make sure that your goal is realistic, here are a few guidelines to consider: With bigger goals, avoid dates as much as possible. Look, we get it, if the rent check is due, the rent check is due. There’s nothing we can do about that. But as for the stuff in your control, avoid the “I will have a job by New Year’s” type lines in the sand. Does it really matter if the job comes on December 31st or January 2nd? Focus on milestones.


If you can achieve your objective with anything less than your absolute best effort, it’s not tough enough and won’t yield the rewards you’re after. It won’t feel like a win.

Provides feedback on progress

You need to be able to objectively ascertain progress along the way. More than that, you have to be paying attention to the feedback and using it appropriately; we will explore this topic at some length in the Clarifying Event section.

Recapping Quality Event Objectives

Quality Events require objectives (aka goals), and goals need to meet certain criteria. Specifically, they need to be realistic, tough, and they need to provide feedback on how you’re doing. What goals don’t have to be is big. In fact, Quality Events often come faster and easier when the goals are small. When Jason was skiing, sometimes his goal was simply the next turn. It’s amazing how, when trees start whizzing by, you start thinking small; you stop admiring the beauty of the mountain and you start to focus exclusively on the five or six feet of snow in front of you. A stressful job search is not too different.

Homework Time!

This may sound simple, but you will likely find it a bit challenging once you dive in: create a job search plan that is made up of a series of discreet, linked objectives that are each tough, realistic, and that provide feedback on progress. If you do this right, you should end up with something that loosely resembles a flow chart where along the way, you have opportunities to receive feedback and — if necessary — take a step backward to make an adjustment. The plan will also go from tight and focused to more general as we move forward in time, because the number of unknowns we must work with grows as we project further into the future.

Post your plans in the comments section below… we may not be able to get to everyone, but we will review and provide you with critical feedback. You’ll also get a chance to exchange insights with your peers this way.

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29 responses to “Quality Event Objectives | Foundation 2 – Lesson 2”

  1. annie says:

    Too challenging for now.
    Have to take a break, and then I’ll try again.

  2. annie says:

    Part of the reason that the homework was too challenging is that Part 2 was listed before Part 1 under the lesson tab, and I didn’t totally understand Part 2 since I hadn’t completed Part 1. Now that I have completed Part 1 I can re-do Part 2.

  3. jmwatts says:

    I’m not sure what exactly this “flow chart” is supposed to look like. (One criticism of Northwestern graduates are that they don’t handle ambiguity well, apparently this is an example of that… ;-) )

    I guess I’ll take a first public stab, I can always modify, maybe it will help someone else.

    Send resume to 3 people for review (I have these three specific people in mind. One of my problems about my resume improvement is that every time someone looks at it I get the same response… looks good, maybe it should be one page. I’m working with two pages now because I’ve done a bunch of internships and have read a few times that to be different and stand out amongst recent grads 2 pages is a good idea.)

    Make at least three contacts a day. (I’ve been really shy.) Ramp up with confidence.

    Send cover letter to three people for review. I’m worried mine are too long and wonder how to better convey how I match wanted skills.

    Follow up on all outstanding applications within next two days.

    Send out at least three resumes a day. (I work really slowly at this because I’m always freaking out about my cover letters, researching the company thoroughly so I can have a well-pointed cover letter. Somehow, I don’t think this really ends up getting translated in the letter though.) Ramp up with confidence as well.

  4. Willy Franzen says:

    Hey Jenica,

    Jason and I will have a more in-depth response to your homework soon, but for now, check out Jason’s video on Handling Ambiguity. It’s not part of this course (although he might be saving something similar for later), but since you mentioned your struggles with ambiguity, I thought that this would be a relevant addition.

  5. annie says:

    I’m a designer so my job search strategies differ somewhat for freelance work, but the principles are the same. Reflecting my new attitude I need to revise my resume/brochure and distribute it to those I’ve met or those I meet. I spoke with two potential clients this week, so I need to create convincing proposals. Since winning an award is a quality event for me, whether it’s a 6th grade poetry contest, and Ad Club “Best in Show” award, or a first place award in photography, I need to create award-winning possibilities from the new work I take on. If awards are not possible with the jobs I accept then perhaps I shouldn’t take them unless the dollars are the motivator.

  6. mdabhi says:

    Quite a challenging exercise. From what I’ve gained from this exercise, Reflecting upon my new mind-set I would have to the complete the following steps.

    1.) Cover Letters
    As of yet I am still not that confident when it comes to writing covering letters as I am never really sure what to include in a cover letter and whether it will get me short-listed for an interview. My problem seems to be how to craft a convincing cover letter that articulates my skills, experience and knowledge gained towards the requirements for that particular job.

    Step 1: To send a copy of my covering-letter to two people that can provide me with feedback and where I’m going wrong

    2.) CV – Resume
    I always seem to have problems with my CV as it sometimes gets me short-listed for an interview and other times I never seem to hear anything back from the prospective employers. Regarding feedback on my CV it seems to have mixed reviews, some people think it’s good, other’s think it needs to be improved.

    Step 2: To send a copy of my CV to two people that can provide me with feedback on my CV – Resume.

    3.) Networking
    Previously this was never a requirement for me as I always assumed it was not that important. To start networking and try to make a minumn of two contacts by the end of the week, my question is how do I do this?

    Step 3: Try to build up my confidence by engaging people in small talk and try to keep in contact with them.

    4.) Application Forms
    I always seem to rush when filling in application forms for suitable positions. To use this time when completing application forms as a quality event, how I can reach out to this key-person?

    Step 4: To get feedback on my application forms and how to improve it before I send it of to the company.

    Step 5: Send out a speculative Covering letter & Resume to a target company. To build up more confidence and to follow up on all my outstanding applications within the next week.

    • Jason Seiden says:

      A few quick things:

      1) We’ll cover networking later.
      2) A good cover letter doesn’t sell your skills. A resume does that. A good cover letter demonstrates the depth to which you understand your audience.
      3) Resumes… Don’t lose sleep over it. Make sure it’s filled with action verbs and has no typos. Don’t use an objective unless you are certain what you want to do with your life—the people reading your resume had no idea where they wanted to be right after college and they don’t expect you to know, either. Life has too many curveballs. Then focus on meeting people and finding opportunities.

  7. stevenlee says:

    1. Resume:
    a. Spruce up resume. (more action verbs) Send to career services for editing and styling feedback. Also send to 2 hiring professionals for employer perspective feedback.
    2. Cover Letters:
    a. Create a document which has a bunch of skills, and underneath each skill write some examples from work, academic or volunteer activities that relate to the skill. Use this document to pick the examples that most highlight the skills the employer wants.
    b. Create the rest of the cover letter’s skeleton, leaving room to customize paragraphs specific to the organization and to insert key examples.
    3. Job Searching:
    a. Spend at least 1 hour researching new companies. (This can be through attending career fairs, surfing the net, or networking)
    b. Find 3 companies a day that I would like to work for.
    c. Add companies to a database for future use.
    d. Find 1 job posting a day that I want to apply for.
    e. Research the company, write up a cover letter and submit an application the same day.
    f. On a calendar, write down each day which company I have applied to.
    g. One week after applying to each job, (or more? Not sure about this time frame) send a follow-up email or call to inquire why I did/did not receive a call back. Look for honest feedback about the cover letter and resume, and store these comments in the database.

    I think I might be missing some steps or key points for feedback, since this plan really only concentrates on applying for jobs and making sure my resume/cover letter are in their best shape.

  8. Jason Seiden says:

    @stevenlee, great start. A few suggested tweaks:
    —I don’t think you “see” the point of the cover letter yet. Using a phrase like “bunch of skills” the way you do, as well as the approach—starting with a list of skills—signals to me that you perceive the cover letter as a chore you want to handle with minimum investment.

    If I’m right, and you just slap something together based on what you think others want to read, I can *promise* you that your lack of investment will come through your words.

    A good cover letter is about how *you* can help *me.* It’s about demonstrating that you know who I am, that you know my company, and that you can write. That’s the only skill you need to prove in a cover letter. All the rest come through the resume.

    I have a vlog post on this topic here. (Opens a new window.)

    —RE: Job search, 2 things: (1) Don’t focus on the clock. If you do the things you lay out on a daily basis, you’ll put in at least an hour as a matter of course… and if one day it all gets done in 30 minutes, so what? Don’t punish yourself for being efficient! (2) I would follow up on a resume/cover letter after 1 day, not 1 week. On that call, I would explicitly ask about following up from there, and I would note their preferred protocol in that spreadsheet/calendar.

  9. annamonster says:

    First things first…

    1. Make a list of jobs/careers/fields of work that I am passionate about and am interested in dedicating myself to and keeping the list in mind when researching opportunities.

    1a. Break the list down into lower-level positions that are attainable.

    2. Find forward-moving companies/organization/programs that I find intriguing and would be really excited to work for.

    2a. Research companies and opportunities thoroughly before applying.

    Question: What to do if I find a company I am really excited about that is ‘not hiring’ ?

    3. Make initial contact with an impressive cover letter and resume, hopefully displaying how excited/interested I am in the position/organization.

    4. Follow up through email/mail/calling. I have trouble here as I am not really sure what a good way to follow up is. I don’t want to annoy the decision maker and count myself out due to my being worried; however, I want to show them how truly interested I am in their organization.

    Case in Point: I applied for an environmental teaching position with a school in the Bahamas that I am really excited about. After sending off my information, I received an email saying they would review my information and contact me by phone. I sent an email back thanking them for considering me for the position etc. Should I act further? Should I wait?

    5. Prepare materials that show my skills and have ready to send out when necessary.
    5a. Prepare portfolio of creative briefs and other marketing papers.
    5b. Create a portfolio of graphic design work.
    5c. Prepare a portfolio of my studio art work and have it up online to refer prospective employers.
    5d. Have an well-written persuasive writing sample ready.

    • Jason Seiden says:

      @annamonster—I’m going to weigh in here, and hopefully Willy will, too. First off, I would have called rather than replied in email. Water under the bridge, I know, but for next time, here’s why it’s better to call:

      Emails can lost, filtered, missed.
      Emails are easy to delete.
      Emails are asynchronous, so you have this limbo period when you don’t know if your message has been heard, rejected, or what.
      On the phone, you can build a relationship.
      On the phone, you can adjust your message on the fly based on what you hear.

      But that’s for next time. With this company, the short answer is, yes, you can follow up, but you need to create a reason to do so. Following up on your resume isn’t enough. Do some research: is the company in the news? Is the company working on a project that has broader implications? Is there something going on someplace else in the world that you think someone at the company should know about?

      Take some time and see what you can dig up… then ping the company and provide the information you learned: “Hi, this is annamonster, you may know the name b/c y’all have my resume… I just came across this article—I’m pretty passionate about what y’all are doing and I’m always poking around online for updates to the subject—who should I send it to?”

  10. annamonster says:

    Wow, I really wouldn’t have thought of that. Ok, after I do some research and find a reason to contact them, how do I prepare myself for the actual call? I find that I get a little nervous and I’m wondering if there is a way to prepare for the questions they might ask.

    A separate case: There is another opportunity I am really excited about; it is with a wellness camp, and I know I am well-qualified for the position. I applied in the requested manner and got an email from the director with a list of questions to answer and a list of expectations for the position. He noted that after receiving my answers he would contact me to set up a time to speak further. I emailed him back in a timely manner with, I feel, great answers to his questions. I didn’t hear anything back, so I emailed him to check that he had received the answers, then I called and left a message.

    My thought is to call again until I reach him and then to speak with him further about my interest in his organization’s mission to help troubled kids and teens. Is this the correct next step?

  11. Willy Franzen says:

    I think Jason’s answer nailed it.

    As for your new questions, keep going with the course. The upcoming lessons should cover almost everything.

  12. samanthabrie says:

    a very rough outline:

    1. edit resume–>ask hiring managers/former bosses/family members for feedback–>update resume based on feedback
    2. research companies of interest–>call and determine who is responsible for hiring and get that person’s contact information–>call and introduce myself/explain interest in the company–>find out if they are hiring–>if not, then send follow-up email, if so, then step 3
    3. write cover letter–>ask for feedback from various sources–>submit cover letter and resume to hiring managers I spoke to in step 2–>follow up with a phone call
    4. if no interest, ask why. then return to step 1 or 2 as necessary. if interest, arrange interview–>do homework about company culture/history/staff before interview–>think of many different possible questions that could come up and have answers ready–>go to interview–>follow up with a phone call–>more interviews/job is mine or if not, find out why and make adjustments while returning to previous steps

  13. Jason Seiden says:

    @samanthabrie be sure you don’t ask a question you already know the answer to… ie, in #2, if you ask, “Are you hiring,” you already know they’re going to say “No.” Even if they are hiring, what are the odds that the perfect employee is just going to call them up out of the blue? (From their perspective.) So change the question: “Are you attacking this market segment? Do you have a resident expert? I’d love to talk with that person…”

    For instance, if I were going to make a call, I’d call Apple. But first, I’d spend a few weeks in coffee shops, asking laptop users (Mac & PC) questions. Then I’d call the company: “I’ve purchased 6 Macs in the past 5 years, and am personally responsible for about another 12 sales. I held my book launch at your store on Michigan Ave. I need to talk to the project mgr responsible for the PowerBook. I need to thank that guy. I know you have a fanatic fan base, but I’m old school. I need to tell him over the phone.”

    Once on the phone, I’d do exactly that: thank him and tell him why I appreciate his product. I might not say anything else. I might tell him a bit about myself and invite him to check out my blog. I might work in information that I’d collected from my coffee shop interviews. Whichever way the conversation goes, I’m prepared. Because I’m not yet looking for a job; I’m looking for a relationship first. The objective is the relationship. I’m looking for a reason to continue the conversation. If I can do that, I can get the job. If I can’t, then there’s no job to be had!

  14. jmackey says:

    1. Touch base with two mentors who are currently reviewing my resume
    2. Solidify knock-out resume
    3. Find one job a day and draft cover letter
    4. Find one company a day that I would like to work for
    a. Identify the mission and culture of company X
    b. Align my experiences, interests, and skills with company X in a well written piece that could serve as guide to potential cover letter/letter of introduction if informational interview opportunity arises
    5. Follow-up with contacts I’ve already met with
    a. Alert them of my progress and/or connections I’ve made thanks to them
    6. Continue searching for ways to sharpen my skills, gain new skills, broaden my experience, etc . . . → get creative with the time between now and getting a job
    a. Currently taking a graphic design class
    b. Doing freelance work

  15. Willy Franzen says:

    Looks good Janie.

    Go beyond “touching base” and “following up.” Set specific goals for the conversations that you’re going to have with those people. Jason offers more on that later in the course, but it’s important to make your communications count.

  16. rcasaquite says:

    1. Identify mentor(s) and HR managers for feedback on resume and cover letter
    – receive feedback on resume and cover letter
    – make changes based on the feedback

    2. Identify companies I’d like to work for
    – research company and if available, the open positions
    – research the best way to contact the company

    3. Write focused resume and cover letter for targeted company based on experiences and skills that best address the company’s needs
    – ask for feedback on focused resume and cover letter from a mentor and/or friends
    – make adjustments accordingly
    – send resume and cover letter to HR manager
    – follow up the next day with a phone call
    – schedule interview if company is interested
    – ask for feedback on resume, cover letter, and overall approach if company is not interested

    4. Rinse, Wash, and Repeat

    additional steps:
    1. Search for opportunities to seek out informational interviews
    2. Continue to build out network
    3. Consistently follow-up with network

  17. mdabhi says:

    I have a quick question is it neccessary to discover work or activities I am really passionate about and would love to with half of my waking life or am I wasting my time in answering this question?

  18. sara8487 says:

    I am loving the class.

    I am looking to get into the magazine publishing industry and broadcast news industry during a pretty hectic market.

    Question: I met the editor of the New York Times style section. Is it appropriate to ask her for help? She’s one of the best contacts I have so I don’t want to burn that bridge.

    I have been applying to some very large companies with massive data bases for new employees. I feel like my resume is floating in the Time Warner/CNN abyss.

    I will start writing to people who edit smaller publications for help, as well. That is a great idea

  19. Jason Seiden says:

    @sara8487 Let’s think about this from the editor’s perspective: how many people does she meet? How many of them offer to help her, vs. ask her for help? What would be a Quality Event for HER?

    I’m not sure the context in which the two of you met, but what if you sent her a note saying, in effect, “It was a pleasure to meet you. It’s nice to know the personality behind the Style Section! I’m looking to break into a job where I can do hard work for very little pay, and have targeted the magazine publishing industry as a great place to start. (Do you need anything filed? Or the coffee filters changed? I’m looking for opportunities to practice.) I don’t have much to offer other than my willingness to work, but please do let me know how I can help you. It meant a lot to me that you took the time to talk with me when we met.”

    That may be too long, but hopefully you get the idea…

  20. sara8487 says:

    Thanks for getting back to me. She spoke to a small group at my college. I sent her a cover letter type of thing after we met, and she wrote back quickly mostly to wonderfully polite. She said that she put my resume in a “folder” for the next time they need to hire. Folder equals bad. Response equals lovely.

    I followed your advice along with asking for feedback on the ole resume without begging for a job. Even if we all know that I want one.

  21. ebilly says:

    planning for a career in museum education:

    1. ask friends and family if they know anyone in the field
    2. make list of reasons why i want to work at a museum (so i can comfortably speak about such in an interview)
    3. follow through with found your career everyday (leaving comments this time)
    4. have someone in career services review my resume
    5. go on the interviews that i’ve already scheduled, keeping in mind that any interview is good practice
    6. reconnect with my old photography mentor
    7. learn/figure out how to use linkedin
    8. write a cover letter for my dream job, ask others for opinion

  22. chaunceyjmu says:

    1. start every morning with physical conditioning (yoga/p90x/qi dong) in order to wake up the body and mind for the days objectives
    a. read CNN and WSJ for current event and stock updates (develop options)
    2. review email – catalog responses from companies you have applied
    3. Find three companies that operate in the area of international business
    a. find position to apply for in each company
    b. tailor cover letter and resume to the type of company/position (save changes as new file)
    c. Add new companies to excel spreadsheet
    i.list company, resume file name, date sent, notes, contact info
    ii. find other partner companies
    4. review resume and make changes base on advice or trend in responses (never delete)
    5. spend time practice Chinese – learn 3 new advanced words a day
    6. contact friends/ mentors to find new people to meet to increase network
    7. review responses for interview questions (questions given from HR workbooks)

  23. emilyjdean says:

    1) Move to the city I want to work in and has the most opportunity for what I’m passionate about…check!
    2) Run/yoga/stretch every day to mentally prepare myself for the days activities and uphold a positive attitude.
    3) Contact/send out resume for review to two hiring managers within the entertainment sector.
    4) Research innovative companies within the music/entertainment sector that encourage forward-thinking ideas then add a new company each day to my “Top 20” places I’d like to work and why
    5) Attend a networking event every week and attain at least two new contacts (get business cards)
    6) Reconnect with all the cards I received throughout college and keep an open mind where their connections could take me
    7) Apply to one new job posting everyday and keep record via spreadsheet details in order to do effective follow-up
    8) Read job search blogs I’ve marked in my Delicious account (for those of you not using Delicious-it’s a great bookmarking tool during your job hunt!)

  24. baseball11qwa says:

    Alright, Here is mine. Please comment and help.

    1) Decide what type of career I am interested in. (I have a broad range of interests, so I am having a hard time figuring this out. I’m interested in Technology, Healthcare, Video game industry, Baseball, Tennis, Golf, Magazine industry) Since I am still in school, I have a little time left.
    2) Review Resume and send out to 3 of my closest mentor/friend/professor
    3) Box/Kickbox/Tennis/Golf/weightlifting/Insanity workout/stretching to help keep stress down and keep myself in a positive mental state and confident.
    4) Research one new company a day. (Locations would preferably be Midwest, East Coast, South or West (By West I really mean California or Washington. I guess Washington is Northwest) )
    5) Decide what region of the US I want to work in.
    6) Play video games every other day for an hour. (There is something therapeutic about playing video games with friends)
    7) Contact those I have connected with in the past or present for future opportunities. No need to burn a bridge!
    8) Create new contacts wherever I go. It’s surprising who you can meet by just striking a random conversation.
    9) Smile. Nothing is really that bad is it? Just work.
    10) Utilize facebook, twitter, and linkedin more. Surprisingly being a 22 yr old college student, facebook and twitter are the last two things on my mind.
    11) Keep track of all my progress on an excel spreadsheet.
    12) watch my money (stocks, checking, savings etc.) Have to keep track of this.
    13) Go out more. All work and no play could have the potential to make me dull. :-)
    14) Continue my internships. They may turn into opportunities later.

    @emilyjdean thanks for the information about delicious! It’s an awesome website.

    I appreciate any feedback on this folks

    Peace, Love, and Happiness.

    • Willy Franzen says:

      Baseball (since I don’t see your real name),

      I think that you may want to rethink #1 and #5. Figuring out what you want to do is often really hard—and the same can be said for deciding where you want to be. Those are both things that you’ll obviously need to do before you land in a job, but they shouldn’t be goals themselves. If you are having trouble with #1, it may stall you out from doing steps 2-14. Instead of focusing on trying to decide, focus on doing things that will get you closer to a decision. I think all of your other points are excellent, but you may want to link them a little better so that there is some sense of chronology.

  25. joelponder says:

    Action – Contact 35 friends relatives and aquaintences a week, try new activities.
    Feedback- Get advice and referals, meet new people.
    Action- Find out who to follow up with.
    Feedback- Start personal conversation with people in the hiring process.
    Action- Research company through internet and interviews with people in the industry.
    Feedback- Discover if this is really a company I believe in and what they value.
    Action- Practice interviewing
    Feedback- Get feed back on how I can work on my presentation, building my confidence and improving my ability to build rapport.

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