An extended job search can be exasperating, frustrating and crushing. There is too much rejection, too little honest feedback, and the tide of desperation that rises as time goes on. It doesn’t mean that this is a hopeless effort, though. The job market is getting stronger and people are finding jobs. The bigger issue is that people quit too soon and don’t work hard or smart enough, and that’s where some self-coaching can come in.
There are statistics that indicate that unemployed people spend less than one hour a day on their searches. This is a huge issue, because a successful search requires, if nothing else, action. Even some action and time spent on less effective activities is better than nothing, and 41 minutes daily is nothing (let’s be honest!).
Instead of allowing yourself to sink into the quicksand of despondency, try these coaching strategies on yourself. They will make a difference.
ENVISION THE FUTURE
What will your new job look like? Where will it be? What will your office or workspace look like? What will you be doing? With whom will you be working? What will your schedule look like? Write down some words and phrases that clarify this.
An important first step in coaching is understanding the gap between today’s reality and tomorrow’s desired situation. Envision and articulate that future.
IDENTIFY POSSIBLE ACTIONS
First, write down the things you are doing now. These might be searching the Web for jobs, networking on LinkedIn, or other activities. Next, brainstorm and write down the entire universe of possible activities that could get you closer to your next job. Don’t qualify or criticize at this point. Just write them down as you think of and discover them.
ADD AN ACTION OR TWO AND COMMIT
You already are doing something (right?), so the next step is to either do more of what you are already doing, or to add something new. If you are not putting in enough time (less than six hours a day is a good waterline), you could do both. Look at your brainstorm list and pick some new things to do.
Once you have two or three new actions, make a goal for how often you will do them and when. Use SMART goals to help.
SPECIFIC – MEASURABLE – ACTIONABLE – REALISTIC – TIME-BOUND
Stretch yourself to do more than you have been, but don’t try to conquer the world in a single week. Why? If your goals are unrealistic, you will fail and get discouraged. You want to be in a position to celebrate success, not lament additional failure.
Here is an example that meets the requirements: “In the next two weeks, I will cold-call 10 employers on my target list to discover any needs and to ask for contact information for hiring-managers.”
This goal of one a day, assuming a five-day work week, meets all of the SMART steps. You are going to do something and you have a deadline.
DO IT & DEBRIEF
This is where the real coaching starts. Record your activities. Review them, including the number of specific activities, when you did them, and the outcomes. Compare your results to your plan. Did you fulfill your commitment to yourself? Celebrate!
Did you fail? Did you procrastinate? Ask yourself, “Why?” Were your goals too aggressive (unrealistic)? Did you get lazy? Did you get nervous and hesitate? Did you get wrapped up in low-value busyness rather than high-value (and maybe less comfortable) genuine search work?
Adjust. If you fail, adjust your goals to reflect what you truly, realistically know you can achieve.
Repeat the process.
GET HELP IF YOU NEED IT
Sometimes, we need someone to help us. If you are struggling to get yourself going, reach out to networking groups and services that can help you focus and give you the help and motivation your need. If you have the resources, consider hiring a coach. They are there to help you find the power within yourself to succeed (I can help you with that!).
RING THE BELL!
I know someone who rings a bell when he makes a sale. You are selling yourself. Ring the bell and celebrate your achievement when that offer comes. If you stay focused and put in a solid effort every day, it will.
Bill Florin is a Certified Professional Résumé Writer, Certified Employment Interview Professional and Coach.