Higher levels of stress make it harder to stay focused and during your career change and job search. If you’re struggling with distractions, try these three steps to reduce the stress and reach your career goals more quickly.
If your career change and job search means that you feel too busy and over-stressed it’s hard to make progress. Here are three simple steps you can take to feel less frazzled by everything you need to do during your career transition.
1. Review your Career Change Timeline
When did you last update resume or LinkedIn profile? Do you recall how much time it took? Probably more time than expected.
Preparing for a career change and job search typically involves several such time-consuming activities. So how can you avoid getting too overwhelmed during the early stages?
Begin by taking a step back to view your starting point. This first step doesn’t take much time but can make a big difference. Quickly assess how much time you have to work on your career change by taking an objective look at what you already do in your week.
How you do this will depend on how you currently organize your time. Unrealistic expectations lead to discouragement. Instead start with goals that are doable in the time you have right now.
This will help you create the momentum you need to sustain your search. Later on you can make decisions about changes you want to make. For most job seekers, progress requires consistent action over time.
Setting realistic achievable goals is a great first step to supporting yourself to do that. But there are other stressors involved. That’s the focus of the second step.
2. Focus on Aspects of your Career Change that you Can Control
One reason that job seekers feel frazzled is the sense of not having control over the process. It’s true that there are several areas of career change and job search that you have little or no influence over.
For example, you don’t control employers’ decisions or what opportunities become available when. You can’t control who else applies for the same advertised positions. I
As more employers use technology such as ATS (Applicant Tracking Systems) to streamline the hiring process, the system is increasingly impersonal. You apply and wait. Not knowing adds anxiety.
It’s easy for the uncontrollable aspects of career change and job search to absorb your attention and increase your stress.
So what can you do to handle the uncertainty that is inherent in job search and career change?
Try this simple step. Open a document or take a sheet of paper. Split the page into two columns. Add these two headings:
Left column: Things I can influence
Right column: Things outside of my control
Now look at what you have written and ask yourself this question:
“Of the things I can influence, where do I want to focus first?”
Keep your work for reference and use it to reorient yourself if you start to feel overloaded. Use it to help you focus on the things you can change.
Now to the third and final step – set limits.
3. Limit your Job Search and Career Change
As a career changer and job seeker, limiting what you do may seem like a mistake. But if you try to use all the different methods available and apply for as many jobs as possible, what is likely to happen? You will increase your stress levels. You will be less effective.
For example, one study (from DeVry University Career Advisory Board) found that being selective paid off. In this research, half of successful job seekers applied for 5 or fewer positions. Two out of three applied for ten or fewer positions. A targeted search is more effective for most people.
Limiting what you do is even more important now as search options increase with social media and other tools. Choose the approaches that build on your strengths.
For instance, going to large networking events is not likely to be sustainable if you prefer connecting in small groups or individually. Choose a different approach.
Think about previous job searches and what has worked in the past. That’s not to say you shouldn’t try now things. Just limit the approaches you choose at a particular time.
If you watch honey bees gathering pollen, they jump from flower to flower. As a career changer and job seeker, it’s easy to get into a similar pattern of jumping from one thing to another.
Career changes and job search may take longer that you expect or would prefer. It’s important to pace yourself so that your progress is not impeded by too much stress and too many distractions.
If you begin with a realistic view of the time you have, focus on what you can influence, and limit what you do, you will set yourself up for a more effective search.
Career & Work Life Matters, ISSN 2150-6299, Vol 8, no. 4
About the Author
Jennifer Bradley, Ph.D. helps professionals lead their own careers, empowered with the information, tools, and resources that they need. She offers individual coaching and consulting, teaches classes, and publishes articles on career development and career transition.
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Practical Tips for your Career Change and Job Search
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