Are there things you know you should be doing for your job search, but you can’t seem to get started? Or finished? Do you feel like you are trying to run through a tar pit wearing water skis to get anything done?
You are stuck, and July is the perfect time to get un-stuck. Leap out of that tar pit, and leave those skis behind!
With your rivals for that great job taking it easy this summer, you vault into action and snag that job while they aren’t paying attention.
How to get un-stuck immediately so you can do all this leaping, vaulting, and snagging? Try applying these 5 rules for making progress in landing your new job.
1. The 15-Minute-Focus Rule
I have an entrepreneurial friend, very smart and very successful in several niches, who has an interesting way to manage herself when she gets “stuck” on something. She applies her 15-Minute-Focus Rule.
She assigns herself a task to do, or even just to start, for 15 minutes. She gets out the kitchen timer, sets it for 15 minutes, and digs in to whatever needs to be accomplished – but only for those 15 minutes. Not that horrible to contemplate, and not that hard to do. “Only” 15 minutes of focus and time is required.
Sometimes, all that she can do is that 15 minutes of focus (barely).
However, more often, as she sees that she is making progress, she adds another 15 minutes and then another until she stops using the timer so she can focus on the work without interruption.
Worst case, she’s made real progress, for at least 15 minutes. So, she’s ahead of where she was before she applied her 15-Minute-Focus Rule. And, often, those 15 minutes of progress change her outlook and attitude about that particular task so it doesn’t look so gigantic and unmanageable after some progress has been made.
2. The Smaller-Tasks Rule
One of the benefits of the 15-Minute Focus Rule is that my friend has broken a big barricade into smaller, 15-minute speed-bumps. This is another key to accomplishing something you know you need to do, but just can’t seem to get started doing – breaking it down in to manageable chunks that can be started and completed relatively quickly.
If you have a to-do list, take a look at it, and see where you can make it less intimidating and more achievable. If you don’t have a to-do list, start one.
Perhaps “Find a job” is at the top of your list. Finding a job is comprised of hundreds (even thousands) of smaller tasks like -
- Stopping by your college career center (or visiting it online) to access the alumni directories, looking for names of classmates or other alumni who work in the field you want or for one of your target employers
- Looking for, and participating in, LinkedIn Groups for “alumni” of your former employers, for people in your location, for people who do what you do, for people in your target industry
- Going to the local MeetUp for job seekers or whatever interests you in your community
- Researching local employers through the Chamber of Commerce website
Look at that list, and determine which needs to be done first based on importance or logic. (If the house is on fire, putting the fire out is important. Calling the fire department is a logical first step.).
Breaking your to-do list into more achievable tasks and figuring out which items need to be done first is the start of a plan, and planning is good!
3. The Daily-Alpha-Task Rule
In my 2003 article entitled, “6 Simple Steps to Make Progress in Your Job Search,” I recommended something that works for me - starting the day by completing that day’s “Alpha Task.”
In 2003, this is how I described the Alpha Task:
Before you begin your day’s work, look at your to-do list and decide which task is THE ONE TASK that will keep your job search moving forward, even if you get nothing else for your job search done that day. That task is your “Alpha Task.”
I’ve discovered that – for me, at least – choosing the Alpha Task is something best done just before I stop working the day before, rather than at the start of the new day’s work.
If you’re like me, making progress on your most significant task of the day, early in the day, makes you feel better about everything, and gets the day off to a great start.
4. The Learning-from-Mistakes Rule
I attended a very interesting conference in Las Vegas last month, The Fordyce Forum for the independent, very high-end executive recruiters usually called “headhunters.” It was a very interesting conference and an extremely interesting group (what I learned about networking from them).
Speaker Bob Marshall, founder of The Bob Marshall Group, recommended that at the end of each day, each week, and each event or meeting, you take 5 minutes (or 15!) to look back at what just happened. What did you do well, and where could you have improved your performance? What could be changed for next time?
Bob’s suggestion is an excellent idea, one that I bet very few of us do! I am finding that sitting down in a quiet place, thinking about, and writing down my thoughts is very helpful. It enables (or forces) me to focus, so I can actually learn something from the experience.
As the saying goes, “insanity is doing the same thing over and over, expecting different results.” Pragmatically evaluating your performance enables you to see and to learn from your mistakes, improving your over-all results.
5. The No-One-Is-Perfect Rule
If you are human, you will make mistakes: have lapses in judgement and just plain mess up. NO EXCEPTIONS! No matter what a superstar you are - how gifted and intelligent - you will make mistakes.
Learn from them (see # 4), get over it, and move on.
While perfection is certainly an excellent goal, don’t let lack of perfection derail your job search.
Managing yourself and your attitude through this whole job search process is critical to your ultimate success. Turn this event into a learning experience, and it will become an advantage for your future because you can apply these rules to everything you need to do. You’ll never be “stuck” again.
Good luck with your job search!
Online job search expert Susan P. Joyce, USMC veteran, has been observing the online job search world and teaching online job search skills since 1995. Susan is a two-time layoff “graduate” who has worked in human resources at Harvard University and in a compensation consulting firm. In 1998, her company, NETability, Inc. purchased Job-Hunt.org, and Susan has been editor and publisher of Job-Hunt since then. Follow Susan on Twitter at @JobHuntOrg.
The Career Collective Articles for July, 2011
- 4 Summer Strategies to Step Up Your Job Search, @DebraWheatman, #careercollective
- Putting Your Job Search Up On The Rack For Inspection, @dawnrasmussen, #careercollective
- Mid-Year Job Search Checkup: Are you wasting your time? @GayleHoward, #careercollective
- What is your unique value proposition? @keppie_careers, #careercollective
- It is Time for Your Check-up Ms/Mr Jobseeker, @careersherpa, #careercollective
- Mid-Year Career Checkup: Are You “On Your Game?” @KatCareerGal, #careercollective
- How to Perform a Mid-Year Job Search Checkup, @heatherhuhman, #careercollective
- Reposition your job search for success, @LaurieBerenson, #careercollective
- Mid-Year Job Search Checkup: What’s working and What’s not? @erinkennedycprw, #careercollective
- Mid-Year Check Up: The Full 360, @WalterAkana, #careercollective
- 5 Tips for Fighting Summer Job Search Blues, @KCCareerCoach, #CareerCollective
- Are you positive about your job search? @DawnBugni, #CareerCollective
- Where Are The Jobs? @MartinBuckland, @EliteResumes, #CareerCollective
- Mid-Year Job-Search Checkup: Get Your Juices Flowing, @ValueIntoWords, #CareerCollective
- When Was Your Last Career & Job Search Check Up? @expatcoachmegan, #CareerCollective
- Is Summer A Job Search Momentum Killer? @TimsStrategy, #CareerCollective
- Is It Time for Your Resume Checkup? @barbarasafani, #CareerCollective