Failing at Job Search

The two most popular New Year’s Resolutions are to A) lose weight, and B) get a new job. Ironically, both usually aren’t achieved for the same reason…

How many times have you started a weight loss plan with the best intentions, only to give up within a few days? The excuse usually is, “I didn’t have the willpower to stick with it.” Well, I can’t tell you how many times I’ve heard that same excuse from job seekers. After a few weeks of searching job boards and filling out tedious online applications, or agonizing over the design of their resumes or LinkedIn profiles, they eventually give up and say, “I didn’t have the willpower to stick with it.” In my experience, the dieter and the job seeker are guilty of the same mistake: unpreparedness.

You Don’t Need Willpower – You Need Strategy

Willpower is what you use when you don’t have a proven plan for success. Willpower isn’t necessary if you have a plan that prepares you realistically for what’s going to happen. Better still, you don't have to rely on willpower when you have the information and resources you need to ensure things never feel out of your control. Dieters and job seekers need detailed strategies to succeed in their goals. They need realistic milestones and mindsets. And most importantly, they need the right information, tools and resources to execute their gameplan. Sadly, most skip the strategy and just dive into the process, using whatever outdated or unproven techniques they know to try to achieve their goal. And when that fails them, they rely on willpower - which we all know runs out too.

Before You Start Your Next Job Search

If you are thinking about a new job in the New Year, let me map out your first milestone. It involves getting clear about what you know and don’t know about job search. See if you can answer the following questions:

1) I know what problems I solve that companies will pay good money for.

2) I can share who I am and what I want to do in 3 sentences or less.

3) I know 10 companies in my area that need my brand of expertise.

4) I have a clear networking plan to connect with at least 5 people at each of these companies.

5) My resume and LinkedIn profile optimized, focused and error-proof.

6) My cover letter strategy is going to get them at “hello.”

7) I have completed interview prep and am up-to-speed on behavioral interviewing.

8) I understand how to leverage informational interviewing to uncover hidden job opportunities and to get referred into competitive positions.

If you can’t say “yes” to all eight of these questions, then you know exactly what you need to do next. Find resources to get you current on these key elements. Not having all of these in place is like trying to finish a puzzle when you know pieces are missing – you’ll never get it done.

What Else do Job Seekers Need to Succeed in Their Search?

Share your thoughts below. I’d love to hear from others on what it takes to fulfill the “new job in the New Year” resolution.