As I work with job seekers of all levels and across multiple industries, I have come to realize that they all have one thing in common: They are all human. “Well, that’s obvious,” you may say. But what I mean by that is that they are all faced with distractions that can prevent them from conducting an effective job search.
Why are distractions more prevalent in a job search?
Some of you may be wondering why distractions are more of an issue during a job search compared with everyday life. Different people have different reasons. For some, just a change in the routine is enough to get them off balance and easily distracted. For others, it is a simple case of dreading the “unknown”—and let’s face it, there are many unknowns in the job search process—and those that dread the unknown will either procrastinate or simply find other things to do so that they don’t have to do the uncomfortable things.
What are some of the “Unknowns”?
Well, let’s see. Where should I start? For beginners, putting together a document that presents your work history and positions it so that it is meaningful to prospective employers is not an easy thing to do. So many job seekers will delay their search until their resume is perfect, which it never is. Deciding what you want to be—and how to position your information accordingly—is another difficult decision that prevents many from moving on to the actual search part of the job search process.
Some of the other unknowns and fears include questions like “what if my current employer finds out I’m looking,” “what if the recruiter tells me I’m not marketable,” “what if ABC Company doesn’t like my resume,” and “what if I send this resume and never hear back from anyone?”
For job seekers that are employed full time, there are obvious challenges to conducting a job search. However, what most don’t recognize is that it takes a tremendous amount of discipline to be able to conduct an effective, efficient job search when you are a full-time job seeker. Why is that? Well, for one, most full-time job seekers conduct their search using their home as their “office.” For those that have never tried working from home before—and by that I mean actually performing work at home, not just checking voice mail and email—distractions are abundant.
I am always amazed at the number of job seekers on Twitter, who go there because they have heard it is a useful resource for conducting a job search, that do not really use the forum to do anything but talk about the fact that they are in a job search and that they hate it. As I write this, I am doing a search on the term “job search” in Tweet Deck. I have come across numerous entries from regular job seekers. Refreshingly, the first one I see says “I’m up early and plotting out my job search strategy.” Another, more typical post, says “Day 2 of search for job. 90% of plans for the day are unrelated to this goal…” Many posts will talk about doing the laundry, washing the car, cleaning the house, going out to lunch, and any other activity that can take a person’s time away from having to actually perform the job search. In fact, one post even says the following statement that I think is even more true than the author realizes, “I need more discipline to get this job search going! please send some positive thoughts and energy to help me fight the lazy demon. hahaha.”
How Do You Overcome the Distractions?
The key to removing, or at least limiting, the distractions that prevent you from conducting your search is in planning from both a strategic and tactical level. Put simply, you must prepare a high-level plan to define your end goal (that’s the strategy part). However, you must also map out a path for how you will achieve that goal. This pathway includes all the little steps that must take place along the way, including things like defining your job target, preparing a resume, identifying companies you would like to work for, determining the different search techniques you will use, and setting daily goals to make sure you stay on task.
As one of the tweets indicates above, you need to plot this thing out, and better early in the process too. If you are not a really self-disciplined person, than it is even more important that you do so, or you will find that the little distractions eat up 5, 6, or more hours of your 8-hour day, which was supposed to be spent as a full-time job seeker.
So who am I anyway? Why do I think my advice is so valuable?
My name is Stephen Van Vreede. My company is called No Stone Unturned, and I have spent 15 years on both sides of the corporate hiring experience.
The short story is that I have an MBA in Marketing from Villanova University and a dual B.S. degree in Finance & Logistics from the University of Maryland. I am a certified professional résumé writer (CPRW) and a member of the Professional Association of Résumé Writers and Career Coaches (PARW/CC). As I mentioned, I paid my dues in the corporate world eventually running a large-scale call center for a major truck rental company, and I have spent the past 7 years with No Stone Unturned, assisting job seekers in achieving their goals.
In February 2009, I launched a new group job hunting networking site: NoddlePlace.com. It is absolutely FREE to join, and you have access to everything on the site. Come check it out at NoddlePlace. You can also follow me on Twitter.