Healthy Habits for a Successful Job Search
By Vanessa Caligiuri, Coordinator, Projects & Operations – Career Management
When you start working on a project, you identify an objective, create a plan, execute tactics, and analyze the results. The more projects you do, these tasks may naturally fall into place, becoming habits that help you have a successful project and balance your workload. A job search is just like a project and practicing the following healthy habits can lead to a successful job search.
Healthy habit 1: Determine your ideal work schedule
In any job search, your overall objective should be to find employment. Planning when you will work on reaching that objective will provide structure to your day and help keep you focused. While you may be tempted to spend all your time looking for a job, that can quickly lead to burnout. We suggest setting times to work on your job search based on when you are most productive or focused. You may find it easier to work on some tasks, like resume writing or networking, at certain times in your day.
Everyone is different, so take some time to reflect on what your optimum working time is and create a schedule that works for you.
Healthy habit 2: Time blocking
Once you know when you would like to work on your job search, we encourage you to try time blocking to document your schedule.
Time blocking is a time management method where you divide your day into blocks of time, each block dedicated to working on specific tasks. Instead of having a generic task list for your day, with time blocking, you schedule a chunk of time to focus on each item on your list. This helps prevent you from bouncing back and forth between tasks or continuously procrastinating on certain items.
Combining your work schedule preference with time blocking can help give your job search structure and a plan to keep you motivated.
Healthy habit 3: SMART goals
Once your schedule is documented, set a few SMART goals to help you keep on track.
A SMART goal is:
S – Specific
M – Measurable
A – Attainable
R – Relevant
T – Time-based
Practicing setting SMART goals will help you set goals that are clear, easy to track, and review. This is a great habit to build for your job search and future employment. Here is an example:
- Generic goal – I will apply for jobs.
- SMART goal – I will apply for five jobs by Friday.
While the generic goal is attainable and relevant to your job search, it isn’t time-based or measurable. The SMART goal meets each element, and because it has a set number of jobs to apply for and a deadline, it will be easier to determine if the goal was reached or not.
Having a few goals can help you keep motivated towards your job search and will help you see how well your efforts are working.
Healthy habit 4: Analyze your progress
Another healthy habit for a successful job search is to track your progress and the tasks you have completed. This gives you the chance to review what is working and what you need to adjust. Work on writing down what you accomplished each day. Get a notebook or start a document on your computer and document what you did.
Then, once a week, go back and review your work, comparing it to your SMART goals. (Make sure to schedule time to do this in your time blocking too). As you review your goals, ask yourself, did I complete what I set out to do? If yes, what helped? If not, what got in the way, and what can you change?
If you are not reaching the goals you set, don’t give up. Instead, try to adjust what you are doing. Maybe working at a different time or changing some of the wording on your materials will help. Searching for a job takes time and work.
Healthy habit 5: Take time for yourself
This brings us to one of the most important habits you can build: taking time for yourself. A job search can be a tough and time-consuming process, and if you are looking because of a job loss you may be dealing with additional stress and trauma. While you may put pressure on yourself to find a job as quickly as possible, you need to find work/life balance in your job search to put your best self forward for opportunities.
“The stress of a job search can also make people feel as if they don’t deserve down time, but working overtime and pushing to the point of burnout will only exacerbate feelings of isolation and negativity.” – Micaela Marini, How to Deal with Job-Search Depression, New York Times
Make sure that you are sleeping, eating well, managing your stress, and giving yourself grace throughout the job search process. A job search is hard work, but it will be harder if you don’t take care of your mental and physical health.
Healthy habit 6: Celebrate your wins
The last habit we encourage you to work on is celebrating your wins, big and small. You just applied for your goal of five positions this week? Way to go! You got a call for an information interview? High five! You booked your first interview? You are rocking it.
Sometimes during the job search process, it might feel like you are not making progress. Celebrating your wins can help remind you that what you are doing is working and keep you motivated to keep going.
We hope these healthy habits help you on your job search journey. If you need support preparing for your search, connect with the People First Career Management team to find out more about how we can support your job search.