6 Ways to Think About Your Job Search Like a Consumer

Your car, your house, your education, even the gasoline you put in your car and the groceries you purchase. What's the determining factor behind each of them? Your finances. What you can afford, along with your tastes and personal preferences, clearly dictates what you choose to buy -- all the more reason why it's important to think about your job like a consumer too.

As we all know, you would experience financial hardships without your job. So when people tell me they're unhappy in their job and/or feel they're underpaid, it's challenging to grasp why they're not immediately searching for a better opportunity. If you were unhappy with your mobile phone or its coverage plan, you'd shop around for another one even if you had to wait until your current plan expires, right? The same applies to your car once the lease is ending, and to a number of other big-ticket items in your life.

Your career shouldn't be any different. Perhaps your potential in a certain role has expired and you're not cashing in on new opportunities that are out there. Furthermore, your job is the driving factor in your life that makes everything else possible.

Only you have the power to upgrade the engine in your life to fuel your happiness and sense of fulfillment, health benefits and, not to mention, new relationships to foster growth and career advancement. Here are some ways to approach the job hunt like a consumer:

1. Go ahead, window shop. Think about your job like a consumer with tremendous purchasing power. That means you always have the ability to look for a better job. Consider the search like window-shopping when you're looking to upgrade your wardrobe. After all, it's free to explore! Start looking at what's out there. Just remember that it won't cost you a dime to check out and set up alerts for jobs, as well as upload your resume for recruiters to find you on Monster.

2. Incredible jobs may have limited time offers. Amazing jobs are out there, but much like products, they have expiration dates. An awesome job opportunity you see online today may not be there tomorrow. You need to be somewhat impulsive -- if something piques your interest when you start looking for a new job, go for it and apply immediately!

3. Leverage your interview as a test drive and comparison shop. You're in the showroom now. Uncover the corporate culture and ask insightful questions. The beauty of interviewing as well as networking is comparison shopping -- talking to more than one employer and several people in order to make the best decision for your career.

4. Plan your job search the way you would a vacation. Even if you're not exactly thrilled at the idea of researching a new car to purchase based on past experiences, you still press ahead because you need new wheels. The same applies to your job search -- embrace the process and begin to enjoy it. Try to start seeing it in a positive light if you haven't previously done so.

Better yet, think about a time when you planned a wonderful vacation -- that research and exploration was probably a fun break from your daily tasks and excited you about the days ahead, right? Approach your job search with this same spirit and sense of excitement.

5. Recognize that your value in a role appreciates over time. Consider your skills and strengths like products you're selling to a prospective employer. In turn, they're selling you on the job, compensation package and perks, as well as their corporate culture.

Think of a job opportunity like a luxury item that will appreciate over time: the more time you spend there, the additional skills you'll acquire and hone, and the further you'll advance your career.

6. Above all, don't underestimate your value. If you're underpaid, undervalued, underwhelmed and feeling buried in mindless work, you're depreciating your value and sense of worth by staying in your current position. Don't ignore your tremendous purchasing power: your ability to land a new job and successfully negotiate a better compensation package.

Remember, recruiters and employers need to meet you; there's no denying the need for skilled talent. Package and market your best asset -- yourself -- and start embracing your "purchasing" power today!