Setting goals for your job search in is a great first step in establishing the outcome you want to achieve — but then what?
Just having a goal doesn’t get you any closer to getting a job unless you’ve got some planning to go along with that goal. Then, you need to get your butt in gear and put those plans into action. Procrastination is not an option.
In my last post, I shared the benefits of incorporating goal setting as a part of your job search process, with some pointers to fully maximize these goals. Now it’s time to create a plan to help you eliminate procrastination so you can actually achieve results.
Eliminate Procrastination and Get to Work!
Success starts by spending time getting detailed about your goals and identifying the steps you need to reach them. But that’s not all. You then have to implement the steps to actually move forward and accomplish something. Having a solid plan with action steps can help to reduce your propensity to put things off.
The following steps will provide you with a framework to increase your effectiveness in reaching your job search goals:
1. Close Some Doors So More Will Open
In my last post, I stressed the importance of having clarity and not being too broad in your job search. For procrastinators, being too general can overwhelm you and can be a goal-killer. You keep so many doors open that you can’t focus your efforts, and this gives you a ready-made excuse to not move forward. In essence, you’re creating your own barrier to making progress.
You probably have many talents and can do many things, but start with identifying the ONE job type you’re most qualified for. This will help you target your search and set the right milestones so you can focus your efforts in the right places and not waste time doing insignificant activities. It’s these insignificant activities that will kill you because you aren’t actually accomplishing anything. By keeping your search specific, more people can help you and more doors will open as a result.
2. Define Your Milestones for Success
This is where you need to define each step needed to get that job.
- Start by brainstorming every task you need to complete in order to find your job.
- Prioritize each task and put them in chronological order. There are some things that need to happen before others. For example, you’ll need to identify the types of companies you want to work for before you can do the research about them to uncover opportunities.
- Review your steps and see if there are any you can get rid of. There are always some activities that may seem important at first, but when you evaluate them against your other priorities, they aren’t necessary after all. Don’t overwhelm yourself; be realistic about what you can accomplish.
- Establish deadlines. Now you need to create a sense of urgency, and what better way to do that than to formulate some due dates for these tasks? You can have daily and weekly deadlines.
3. Identify Resources to Help You Tackle Your Tasks
You don’t have to go it alone. There are others who would be happy to help you along the way. Look into your circle of support and figure out who can provide assistance to you. Help can be in the form of reviewing your resume, providing motivational support, putting you in contact with someone at one of your target companies and more.
Review each activity on your list, see where you may need some help — and ask! Many people feel uncomfortable asking for aid, but this is a time when you really need it. In addition, you should also be willing to serve as a resource for others in your position.
4. Just Do It
The easiest way to get distracted in goal setting is not actually taking action. So, GO! You can do all kinds of strategizing and planning, but if you don’t take action, nothing’s going to happen.
No-Nonsense Tips to Keep You on Task
1. Don’t B.S. Yourself
You can read lots of articles and books about goal setting and create a great plan, but the only one who can get you to actually do anything is YOU. Just reading a bunch of stuff isn’t going to get you there; you are.
Be honest with yourself — if you’re not making progress in meeting your goals, is it because of a lack of desire or a lack of focus? Figure out what’s stopping you, and fix it.
2. Don’t Get Sucked into Busy Work
You know what I’m talking about: organizing your desk, playing around on social media “connecting with people,” editing and re-editing your resume, getting another cup of coffee, maybe watching a TV show. Anything that distracts you from actually getting your work done.
Finding a job is a job. It takes time. (Click here to tweet this thought.) So when you create your daily “to do” list, make an additional list and label it your “not to do” list. This is the list of things you do that are not truly helping you make progress. These are your time wasters, and if you remove them, you can make room for other, more important actions.
3. No Whining Allowed
Job hunting isn’t fun, but whining (to others or just to yourself) isn’t going to help and will just sap your energy. Try to stay positive. Which brings us to the next piece of advice:
4. Reward Accomplishments
You will feel like you’re going uphill constantly. So when you have a great interview, when you make a good connection or after you have a good informational meeting, take a few minutes and feel good about it. Celebrate your little successes just like you would the big ones.
5. Learn from Disappointment
You’re not always going to get it right, so figure out what you can do differently next time and do it. Don’t use letdowns as an excuse to abandon your goals or get distracted. You need to keep moving forward.
6. Recognize That Only Certain People Matter
Not everyone in your network is a meaningful resource. In a technology-filled world where you could be connected to hundreds of people on many different social media platforms, it’s easy to be misled into believing you have a huge network of “friends.” But in general, many of these relationships are disingenuous in nature. Identify those people in your circles who are your true supporters, and ask them for help when needed.
7. Finally, Take Care of Yourself
Eat right, get exercise and incorporate down time and relaxation into each day. For those type-As out there, this will be difficult, but you’ll find yourself to be much more productive if you allow for some “me” time. For the type-Bs, you’re naturally more relaxed, so your challenge is to not relax too much.
The bottom line for both types is to do everything you can to be as productive as possible while also allowing time for fun.
Have you ever succumbed to job hunt procrastination? Share your struggles (and tips) with your fellow job seekers in the comments!
Sheryl Johnson is passionate about helping people in career transitions and job searches market themselves through strategic networking techniques and recently launched an online Network PRo Toolkit. She has over 20 years’ business experience in many industries, teaches marketing at the collegiate level and speaks regularly at various conferences and meetings. Sheryl is the co-founder of The Inn Group, a unique networking club servicing greater Pittsburgh.