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The #1 Enemy Of A Successful Job Search?

Of course there are many things that can disable your job search.  Some are in your control and some are not . . .

Some are debilitating and some simply frustrating.

The enemy on my mind this morning, however, is a sneaky one.  Hard to control.  And sometimes hard to see.  It works quietly in the background like a computer virus.  Chewing up memory and productivity.

Even the word sounds dastardly.

In fact, the word is so full of consonants that it sounds like the gnashing of teeth.


Is this a problem for you?  Are you sure?

It has been an issue for me in the past (you can read my other blog called Quixoting to learn how I let 20 years go by before acting on my ideas).  So when I saw an article on the topic in Scientific American Mind, I knew I had to tell you about it.

The great article was written by Trisha Gura called “I’ll Do It Tomorrow” where she suggests that “procrastination is damaging the careers, health and savings accounts of millions of Americans”.

I referred to this idea generally a few months back when I suggested you need to be careful of optimism.  That too much optimism might prevent a healthy dose of productive fear from driving you to take action.

But procrastination is less about optimism and more about simply avoiding doing the things you know you need to do.  Sometimes to your significant peril – as the article suggests.

And you also may say “Isn’t the risk just the opposite?  That we will act too often, over-communicate and be perceived as desperate?”

Yes.  And I know what you are thinking.  There are too many things to think about and balance during job search.  And you are right.

So first some examples of where and when procrastination can cripple you in job search – if you do not act:

  1. Creating a top notch resume and online brand (Linkedin, Twitter, Blogging)
  2. Building a detailed budget for expenses during your transition
  3. Drafting and implementing a solid job search strategy
  4. Calling and following up with influential networking contacts
  5. Getting to important networking events

Now there are many reasons people don’t do these things.  Sometimes there is a lack of knowledge.  Pride can get in the way.  And sometimes you forget that this job search market is completely different.  That the old ways of job search won’t work.

Some of these things are hard.  They require skills that you may not have.  And you hesitate.  Then hesitation turns to put off and then put off becomes forgotten.

But sometimes you simply put off doing important things.  And you know you shouldn’t.

In the article, Trisha provides some great tips on how to recognize when you are procrastinating.  These steps, which characterize the process of procrastination, were provided by William Knaus – a clinical psychologist in Massachusetts:

  • You have an activity with a deadline that comes with a reward if done well or a punishment if not done correctly.
  • You view the activity negatively, as boring, unpleasant, threatening or confusing.
  • You magnify the onerousness of the task while discounting the incentives for acting now.
  • To avoid or relieve  the discomfort, you substitute another activity such as daydreaming, “organizing” or just about anything involving a computer.
  • You tell yourself that you will get to the task, perhaps tomorrow.  Then, when tomorrow comes, you make up another excuse.

Boy these sound familiar.  Do you think surfing the job search engines for hours a day is a symptom of a procrastination problem.  I think so, yes.  Seemingly productive yet highly inefficient.  And an incredibly passive activity.  A classic time waster if used beyond its value.

So, how do you battle this beast before it quietly takes your legs out from under you?

Well, as suggested here before (and supported in the article) . . .

Take action.  Build a specific plan.  And surround yourself with really smart people who can help you through the aspects of job search that you find more daunting.

With a plan you have confidence that you are executing a well-thought out and objective strategy.  And you can slice this plan into easier tactical bites.  Easier to execute = more likely to complete.

If you read this blog on a regular basis (get the RSS feed, e-mail list, bookmark), I promise to prod you.

To provide you with practical advice two or three times a week.  Advice that you can act on that day to drive efficiency into your effort.

Looking for more ideas?  Download the free ebook (no strings attached and no sign-up required)!  Here’s the link:

New E-Book Now Available!  “30 Ideas. The Ideas of Successful Job Search.”

But do me a favor.  Don’t read this blog every day.  You might be procrastinating.  And I’d rather hear that you chose instead to get out to a cool networking event.

Where you are likely to find your next job floating around the room.

Written by: Tim Tyrell-Smith
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Categories: Finding New Job

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