Happy New Year job seekers!
Who doesn’t like the smell of fresh New Year? The shortcomings and misses of the past year have come out in the wash and the year is ahead is crisp and bright. Maybe you enjoyed a fantastic 2015, and now you’re all about capitalizing on the promise of even greater successes in ’16. Either way, in some way we’re all back in the starting blocks for a fresh new race.
For folks in job search mode, the New Year can come with excitement and at the same time a bit of angst as your searches drag. Perhaps you’re getting close to your target date or maybe you’re past the target date when you expected to be employed again and you don’t have anything cooking. Maybe you’re someone who was able to find that first post layoff job only to come to the realization that for you, the green grass of the new gig really is just over the septic tank.
So you missed your goal, your target dates have passed. Doesn’t help that you probably watched or heard about your former colleagues finding new and exciting gigs, and here you are still on the bench. And now you’re starting have some doubts.
What am I doing wrong? My search isn’t working.
What is it about that employers are seeing that’s keeping me from getting hired? I must be too [insert self-deprecating adjective here].
It’s OK, I haven’t started “trying” yet.
I’m not going to “officially” start looking until [next week, Summer is over, fall is over, after Christmas, after the 1st, after Presidents Day, after my severance runs out, after after after….]
I’m failing at this job.
I thought this was going to be the dream job and it stinks.
And then, because it’s the New Year, you jump into the annual collective hopefest that is a New Years Resolution.
Sorry to come off as negative, but I’m going to level with ya’all, I’m not a fan of the New Year’s resolution. Little informal study of myself, friends and family, and personally I’d take the odds against any New Year’s Resolution ever happening for anything, Last year I resolved to lose 15 pounds, here we are in the new year and I only have 20 to go. (Thank you, I’m here all week).
Fact is without a plan, a resolution is nothing but a wish. There’s just no way around the fundamental truth that to get something you really want, something that you can’t just buy with cash, you have to have plan, not only that but, please sit down now, you have work your plan.
About that plan of yours…
I’ve had an epiphany in the last year regarding job search plans. I think I’ve been a little guilty, and a lot of what I read out here, have traditionally put a ton of emphasis on the majesty of the plan. . After all, a well-built plan has a better chance of succeeding then one that’s just thrown together, right? A year ago I would have said of course, now I’m not so sure. I’ve realized that the most articulate and detailed plan ever created has no chance of success if you don’t work it. While a hand written, three line plan jotted down on napkin will happen, every time, if it’s properly executed.
Suffer from analysis paralysis? I see this quite a bit in the job search world. Folks who spend weeks and weeks developing and refining their action plans, updating their contacts lists, analyzing their strengths and working leads and threads… all good work, all necessary work. But for some reason some of these same folks can’t seem to get started on the actual “working” part of the plan. Making the phone calls, sending emails, writing introductions and doing the executing against that great plan they created.
Two thoughts on this from my perspective.
1) Apply the 80/20 rule to your job search plan. Simple truth, your plan only needs to be good, not great. The time you spend going from good to great is better spent on activities that are going get results; networking, researching jobs, writing introductory letters, attending events. BTW- the plan format, you’re not writing a business document for a client here, you’re writing a plan for you!. Make it work for you.
Need a template? Try this Mind Map- it’s ugly, but it gets to the point quickly and can help you get some thoughts on paper, which really, is all you need.
2) You’re not writing the bible here. This document you create won’t be enshrined and unchanged through the end of time. Your plan should be a living document that changes as you go. And, like everything, the more you work at it, the better you’re going to be at it. Job hunting, networking, interviewing, it’s no different. As you get better at this skill set, you’re going to want to change your approach, update your contacts and reformat your messaging, you’re going to learn a ton and you’re going to want to make changes. If you don’t like something in your approach, change it. You have that power.
If you’re truly stuck here and want some ideas, please send me a note through LinkedIn. I’m happy to connect with you and send you some thoughts.
Your boss might be the problem….
There’s a cliché out there that goes something like this:
“When you’re searching for a job you’re working for the hardest boss in the world, yourself.”
It’s true. But please keep this in mind, you may not be a great boss for yourself. It’s one thing to set goals and due dates and to create lists of stuff to do, it’s completely another hold yourself accountable and manage your worst employee ever, which would be um.. you!.
Everyone whom I’ve ever worked with or talked too who has gone to the trouble of building a job search plan, will work said plan. At least for a little while. What seems to be really really hard is maintaining a sustained effort against your plan, especially after a few setbacks and the passage of time. I get it, job hunting is no fun. It’s a full time gig that deals out rejection more often than success.
Some folks pull this off well. Many do not. I see two patterns out there. There’s go getters who create detailed task lists and like to overschedule their day to a point that’s way beyond reasonable. And there’s folks who just can’t get started. Folks who struggle just get to the bare minimum. Sometimes they’re easily distracted, sometimes they’re overwhelmed with what’s in front of them, sometimes they just have trouble getting organized. And sometimes, it’s about change and the fear of putting themselves out there. It’s hard, I know, I’m an introvert. I don’t like networking.
For both patterns the result is the same, the search plan is not sustainable and they fizzle out, they get burned out, they lose sight of the goal and they stop working their plan.
My advice here; quit. Not the search, quit on your boss and fire yourself. Do it in a public place to avoid unnecessary drama, you might not like firing yourself…
Seriously the answer here is reach out for some coaching help. Perspective typically comes from the outside. If you can recognize that you’re not the greatest person in the world to hold yourself accountable to getting stuff done, or that you’re not being realistic about your work, engage a coach to help you manage this process.
It might be as simple as reaching out to a mentor or trusted advisor. Or it could be making an investment in yourself by hiring a job coach to help you keep your plans on track.
The goal of this engagement should be
- Someone to review your plan with you and give you an outside perspective on your approach. Reality check if you will.
- Someone to check in with you on a set schedule, to give you someone to “report” too about your progress and work. Often just thinking about “what am I going to tell my coach this week” is enough to get you moving
- Someone to reach out to you when you fizzle out and stop doing what you need to be doing. Like chatting with your coach for example. This can be critical as your search gets longer. Think if it as having someone behind you to push you up out of the low spots in your journey.
BTW what you don’t need is someone judgmental. I would also avoid close friends or close family, to easy to bring them into your mindset and then you’ll lose the benefit of perspective.
It’s a new year, page is turned, the sheet is blank, the metaphors are endless. At the end of the day, this search is yours. Yours to manage however you want. Just keep in mind that even the best companies in the world hire consultants, because sometimes a second opinion can make all of difference.