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by Vault Careers | October 05, 2011


When you're unemployed, no matter how desperate you are to find a job, it is very easy to become distracted from your ultimate goal.  Sometimes, the very computer you are using to find a job can pull you away from your job search. 

You're trying to find a job, but you need to harvest your crops on Farmville; you have to regain the top score in Bejeweled Blitz; and you’re singing to songs from Glee (and you don't even like Glee) while trying to figure out just who Ted Mosby is going to marry on HIMYM.  You haven't found a job yet and your goals suddenly feel so far out of reach.  How do you stay focused?

Get the Job Done.  Procrastination leads you nowhere.  The best way to stay focused on your goals is to just dive in and get started.  One thing leads to another and before you know it, you've edited your resume, wrote out cover letters, filled in job applications and applied for various positions.  To help you stay focused, it might be important to put together a checklist covering the tasks you need to accomplish that day.  Nothing will give you greater pleasure than crossing something off your list and feeling like you accomplished something. 

Set Realistic Goals.  When you set unrealistic goals for yourself, you experience failure very quickly.  This is not a healthy process.  It can lead to poor self-esteem and the propensity to just give up.  When you set realistic goals and achieve them, you build up momentum that can carry you throughout the job search.  Little wins along the way lead to big wins in the end. 

Think Outside the Box.  You are not reaching your goal of full-time employment, but rather than give up, set up some shorter term goals that can boost your resume.  A job seeker could work part-time or volunteer for a non-profit organization in need of your expertise.   It allows you to continue working in your desired profession, build your resume and develop new contacts – all providing you with fresh new ideas and perspectives for your job search. 

Stay Organized.  It is so easy to fall into disarray when applying to multiple jobs and maintaining a number of contacts.  I know this.  When I was searching for a job, I kept a notebook where I entered every job I applied to, including who I contacted, when I followed-up, and notes on whether I thought it was a job I should pursue vigorously or if it was a position I would accept just to have a job.  Before I knew it, the notebook just sat in the corner next to my workout log and collected dust.  The lack of organization led me to apply to positions I had already applied to; follow-up with the wrong people...and in some cases, apply to a job at the wrong company.  Staying organized leads to less mistakes, which means less stress and more focus.   

Ask for help.  It's ok to ask for help.  The more people, the more ideas and the more creative your job search can be.  I reached out to a contact and asked her to offer me suggestions on my resume.  I didn't agree with everything she suggested, but the few things I did agree with, helped me better pinpoint my job search.  She also provided me with several confidence boosts that were appreciated and needed at the time.  Help can also be provided by reaching out to contacts and asking them about jobs within their company.  According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, many jobs are actually not advertised, so these contacts can be a valuable tool in a job search.  You never know until you ask. 

Evaluate.  At some point, you need to assess how good the job search is going.  You should go over what you have done, what you've accomplished and how your efforts panned out.  If you're not going anywhere with the job search, it might be time to create a new plan of action.  If your plan isn’t working and you don’t take to review what you have done, you will only end up getting depressed, confused and aggravated.  There's always more than one way to accomplish your goal.  Take the time to determine what is right for you.  Never give up and eventually, you will reach your goals.  

--Jon Minners,


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