Searching for a new job can discourage even the most optimistic among us.
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When I was working in outplacement, I had a client who ended up with two lucrative offers at the same time. After he decided which one to claim, we looked back on his entire five month search.
“There were some dark days,” he said. “All of the support you gave me was great. I just wish there had been an 800 number that I could have called when I dropped into despair.”
I’ve never forgotten that comment because it made me realize that I needed to offer emotional support in addition logistical support for my job search clients. It changed the way I work with my clients.
As you navigate your job search, keep in mind some simple yet powerful ideas to stay on track.
Moderate The Amount Of Time You’re Investing
If you are unemployed, you should be spending ~35 hours/week on your search and if you’re employed, you should be spending ~15 hours/week on your search.
Most job seekers fall at one end of the spectrum of time that they put into their search. Many are way over the top, burning themselves out. They snap at people around them. They have an air of desperation and a haunted look in their eyes. They start to make careless mistakes, and they worry that people are avoiding them (which may be true if there’s a cloud of anxiety around them).
At the other end of the spectrum are people who want to devote time to their search, but they find themselves getting drawn into other demands, mindlessly scrolling through Facebook, and escaping into Netflix and Tumblr.
If you’re outside the suggested range of hours that you’re investing in your search, either in the excessive zone or in the avoidance zone, the cure is the same: first, know that you’re not alone; second, ask yourself what’s at the root of your anxiety; third, get grounded in a routine that moderates the time you invest in your search.
Reach Out And Connect
It’s easy to fall into a habit of scanning job boards and sites for companies and organizations where you want to work. It’s great to have resume and cover letter customization and submission as part of your search. Just don’t make it the entirety of your search.
In order to move forward, you need to be in conversation with people:
- Collecting intel about your target organizations
- Forging connections with people who will put in a good word for you when an opening becomes available
- Establishing your reputation as a powerhouse in your industry
If you’re unemployed, seek to connect with 5-10 people/week, and if you’re employed, strive for a target of 2-3 people. Be genuine in your curiosity about what’s going on with them and allow conversation about your search to naturally arise. People want to help you, but they have to know about your search before they can offer meaningful suggestions and take action on your behalf.
Take Care Of Yourself
Just like my client who yearned for the 800 number, many job seekers neglect their own exercise routines, sleep hygiene, and food planning and preparation. They start to pull away from their families because they’re embarrassed that they’re not getting more traction in their search.
You can’t be effective if you’re depleted.
Your goals matter, and if you’re going to get where you’re hoping to go, you need stamina and support.
Imagine that your energy level is like the water level in a well. If you’re constantly having an outflow of water with your relentless schedule, but you don’t have an inflow with nourishing activities that replenish you, it’s no wonder you’re struggling.
Make a list of activities that refuel you. Include those activities in your daily and weekly routines. Prioritize them. Think of it as refilling your inner well so that you’re charged and ready for your week.
Finally, recognize that a job search is a marathon, not a sprint. Everyone experiences lulls and gets discouraged during the process. Don’t let the dip stop you. You can get back on track if you’re aware of the time you’re investing, you’re connecting with people, and you’re attending to your own self-care.
Maggie Graham | Coach
Career coach Maggie Graham banishes Credential Gremlins in her forthcoming book Skip the Next Degree: Career Change without Debt and Despair. She points mid-career professionals in the direction of their next steps and defines a road map to take them there. Job seekers will find an ally when they seek support for landing their next positions.
Disclosure: This post is sponsored by a CAREEREALISM-approved expert. You can learn more about expert posts here.
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