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Chapter 9 Step 5: Stay Motivated and Organized and Troubleshoot Your Search
Figure 9.1 The Six-Step Job Search Process: Step 5
What Do We Mean by Stay Motivated and Organized and Troubleshoot Your Search?
At this point in your search, you have taken the following four steps:
- Identified your targets and have a list of companies, specific departments, and specific people to approach (step 1)
- Created your marketing campaign, for example, résumé, cover letter, online profile, and networking pitch, to position yourself to these prospective employers (step 2)
- Researched your desired market so that when you talk to people you can have an intelligent and engaging conversation, and they are more likely to help you or hire you (step 3)
- Started talking to people, including developing relationships, learning new information, and interviewing for specific roles (step 4)
This chapter will discuss the different types of motivation and strategies for maintaining that motivation, how to develop organizational systems that work best with your style, and ways in which to troubleshoot your search.
Many job seekers slow down at this stage, right when the job search should instead be heating up. The job seeker has fun with the blank slate of targeting—envisioning his or her likes and dislikes. Marketing is tangible, and the job seeker feels productive, diligently putting together a résumé. In addition, a job seeker can read about companies and industries on his or her own schedule, at home, perhaps before bed, or after a tiring day at school or work. Getting in front of other people, however, and going beyond the awkwardness of networking with strangers or near strangers is hard work for a lot of job seekers. Yet this is the meaty part of the search, and a good job search should devote the bulk of time to the networking stage. As a job seeker, you will need to stay motivated throughout your job search, but especially in this critical networking and interviewing phase.
This chapter talks about the two types of motivation you will need and strategies for how to become and stay motivated. You will explore answers to the following questions on motivation:
- Do you consciously pace yourself for the long haul of a project (in the case of a job search, all six stages)?
- Does your energy tend to wane after an initial fast start?
- Do you have the ability to summon your motivation at will for an important event (in the case of a job search, at an interview or key networking meeting)?
- When you have a final exam, big game, or other high-stakes event, do you just hope you are at your best that day?
With four steps of the job search in full swing, you will be juggling names of companies, names of people, and insights into your target market. As you talk to more and more people, you will find out about other companies and get referrals to additional people to speak with or to specific jobs for which you need to apply. You need a way to stay on top of all this information. If you had been capturing all of this in a to-do list or a journal, your simple list will no longer suffice as the information flow increases.
This chapter covers the two categories of information that need to be organized and strategies for how to develop organization systems that work for your style:
- Do you have a system for organizing your network of contacts?
- Do you have a plan for how you will incorporate new job leads into your existing contacts?
- How do you keep track of long-term projects with lots of sequential steps but also lots of revisions (such as a job search)?
- How do you schedule and remind yourself of follow-up actions for long-term projects?
Finally, the networking phase is the time the job seeker tests the market. While you are thinking about companies and industries as you set your targets, create your market, and conduct your research, you don’t actually put yourself in front of companies or other prospects until you reach the networking phase. Once you start networking, you will get your first market reaction. Your feedback might be anything from “Wow, where have you been all my life? We need to hire you right away!” to “Thanks for contacting us. We’ll get back to you if you are a match with any of our openings.” You might even end up with no response at all.
This chapter includes what problems you may encounter and ways to troubleshoot your search:
- Are your inquiries leading to networking meetings and interviews?
- Are your networking meetings and interviews leading to callbacks for additional interviews or referrals to other opportunities?
- Are you getting offers?
To stay motivated and organized and troubleshoot your search is a stand-alone, critical step in your job search that warrants your attention and prioritization. We place this step in the fifth position for several reasons:
- You need the data from the earlier steps to have something to organize.
- You need results and market reaction to troubleshoot.
- It is typically later in your process that the need to deliberately focus on motivation comes into play.
Many job seekers neglect this step, assuming that lists upon lists will be enough to stay organized. You might assume that motivation comes naturally, or perhaps that the financial or peer pressure of having to secure a job will be enough to motivate you. It might not occur to you to go looking for problems in your job search. But the proactive job seeker is deliberate about all elements of his or her search and, therefore, deliberately harnesses motivation, creates the systems and other support required to stay organized, and identifies and fixes problems throughout the job search.