It’s important to define a successful job search based on the process and not just the outcome, especially during these quarantine times. Focus on creating and maintaining momentum. Creating a process and consistently following it will ultimately land you a job. Yes, even now!
If your idea of a successful week of job hunting is getting a job, then every week that you don’t sign a contract, you fail. These standards of success are counterproductive and will make it difficult to maintain your motivation and momentum. Consider these two scenarios:
Outcome based goal
Get a job
Process based goals weekly:
Reach out to 15 new people on LinkedIn
Send 10 cold emails
Apply to 20 jobs
Write out answers to 5 common interview questions
Solve 5 Leetcode problems
Take an hour walk after lunch every day
Success is making a process-based schedule and sticking to it even when you don’t feel like it. While your end goal is still to get a job, it’s important to focus on all of the small pieces that are required to achieve that goal. Clearly defining and working on your process based goals each week will keep you motivated and will eventually lead to a job.
So how do you maintain momentum, even when you are cooped up all day? There are plenty of reasons to feel unmotivated, which is why you can’t rely on motivation alone. Here are some tips for creating and following an effective process:
Create a schedule
Creating a schedule is one of the easiest ways to ensure you actually do the things you want. No event is too small to put in your schedule. Make sure you experiment and try doing different tasks at different parts of the day. You may find you handle certain tasks better early in the day compared to later in the day and visa versa. If you are consistently failing to complete a task, consider setting implementation intentions.
Start a journal
Keep a written record of your job search. Reflect on what works and what doesn’t work. Track each step of the process. When you measure something, it often changes. Just tracking your behavior often leads to an increase in the desired behavior. At the end of each day answer the following question:
What are the three most important things I can get done tomorrow?
Start the following day working on those three things before you move onto anything else.
Many people think being productive is doing more things, and the way you do more things is to add more things to your to-do list. Rather than trying to expand your to-do list, consider instead expanding your to don’t list. Make a list of all the things that needlessly take up your time and make a commitment not to do them. Get creative when eliminating distractions.
Don’t go extreme
Remember you are trying to set yourself up for consistent success. You aren’t trying to have a superstar week where you work 80 hours a week and then get burned out. It’s much better to apply to a couple of jobs every day than it is to apply to a ton of jobs one day a week.
Break up your work. You are not a computer, you can’t work non-stop all day. Put it on your schedule to get outside during the middle of the day. Taking breaks allows you to refresh your mind and prevent exhaustion.
Sharing your goals with someone greatly increases your chances for success. Find someone who has similar goals to you and check in once a week. This is a two way street and you are both holding each other accountable. You are not just a human reminder of a to-do list. Both partners should support and hold each other accountable.
Be kind to yourself
Finally, and most importantly, be kind to yourself when you fail to meet your goals. It is ok to fail to meet your goals for the day or week. Just make sure you get back on track the following day/week. If you fail to meet your goals Be curious rather than harsh with yourself. Sometimes it helps to imagine you are talking to a friend, rather than yourself. Imagine your best friend has asked you to help them to get in shape for a marathon, and they skipped a day of practice. Would you yell at them and call them names? Or would you be curious as to why they skipped, and think of ways to prevent it in the future? The same goes to yourself. Interestingly enough, forgiving yourself for procrastinating actually makes you less likely to procrastinate in the future.
Having a clear process not only allows you to get more work done and stay on track, but it also helps you enjoy your free time more. Having success clearly defined allows you to stop working after you have achieved your goals and enjoy some well deserved time to yourself. Unless you have a clearly defined process, your work for the job search isn’t complete until you have a job and you will always be worrying about it.
You don’t have to make a giant leap every day. If a step is too big then make it two steps. If it’s still too big then make it four steps. As long as you keep moving in the right direction that’s all that matters!