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Staying Focused During a Job Search

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Conducting a job search is demanding and with so many professionals vying for spots in the workforce, momentum can dwindle and turn to discouragement. Staying focused during your journey involves taking the necessary steps to give yourself a chance to succeed. Maintaining a sense of structure is important from day to day and gives you a sense of accomplishment as you work toward your ultimate goal of landing a job. Here are concrete ways to enhance your chances for success during your search.

Commit Yourself
You've heard the expression that looking for employment can be a full-time job, and it should be treated that way. Viewing it as a part-time job simply will not cut it in today's competitive market. Don't just browse and window-shop — recognize your situation and devote your full attention to your job search. Keeping a sense of structure to your days (for example, using productive morning hours to tailor and send out resumes) is critical. In fact, equating your job search with an actual work day and its inherent structure is a good strategy. If you feel overwhelmed, divide things into smaller bites. There's nothing wrong with chipping away at tasks and gaining momentum by gradually upping the ante.

Value in Evaluating
Pursuing positions that don't match who you are can waste valuable time. Examining your past accomplishments is one of the best ways to evaluate where you are and where you want to be. Don't merely look at awards you may have won — ask yourself what you did that made you feel valuable to your employer and proud of yourself. Take time to reflect and ask yourself if you want to shift career gears or seek out opportunities in the field you're familiar with. Write down goals and make sure they are specific and measurable. For example, write "Thursday morning I will prepare four resumes and E-mail them to prospective employers."

Stay in Circulation
People have a tendency to shy away from peers, especially if they were laid off. Don't dwell on it — get out there and spearhead a public relations campaign for yourself. Being a hermit and convincing yourself you are making strides because you're spending time searching for jobs on the Web misses a basic fact: Networking and maintaining business contacts is the best way to find leads that can materialize into job offers. With more time on your hands you can join an organization, enroll in a class, or attend social functions where you are more likely to mingle with professionals in your field.

Find a Mentor
Consider these facts about bacteria. Despite the fact that they are born blind, deaf and mute they practice knowledge sharing and communication important for their survival. Bacteria "talk" to each other through chemical signals to promote the welfare of the colony and to help other bacteria. More complex life forms like insects and animals developed mimicry for transmitting knowledge. Now consider what human beings are capable of accomplishing when they devote time to sharing what they've learned. A good coach or mentor is capable of dispensing valuable information that will promote your welfare. Pick someone you respect and want to emulate. A mentor can dispel misconceptions and give you practical advice about what it takes to succeed in your field.

Stay Positive
Keeping your chin up means keeping in mind that many very experienced and talented people are going through what you are. Don't let fear and panic paralyze you or worse, erode your self-esteem. Take the time to regroup and build new skills. Volunteering is a great way to keep busy instead of feeling sorry for yourself. Devoting energy to your job search will pay off, but recognize when you need time off to recharge. Don't linger on rejection or take it personally. Gravitate toward positive people and things you enjoy doing and you will reflect their energy.

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