I’ve been there before, and I know the road can get a little rough. Here are five tips to help you avoid burn out and keep moving forward.
1. Narrow your search.
At the very beginning of career exploration, it’s helpful to broadly consider your job options. However, you want to narrow down the job options you will pursue so that you can focus your energy, time, and job search budget, by the time you get to the active job search phase. Think about what you can narrow down— geography, industry, job functions?
2. Determine how many hours you will spend each week, then each day on your job search.
3. Remember that things come up in the job search that may seem off task but can also help move your search forward.
Just this week, I was working with a postdoc in cultural anthropology who’s work focuses on community health in New York City. She’s trying to be proactive by beginning her job search now so when August rolls around and her postdoc ends, she will have employment opportunities. During our mid-month coaching call, she was nearly ashamed to say she hadn’t completed one of the Options for Success modules that we were to review that day. But she could be proud that she’d completed so many other tasks that actively moved her search forward: two networking meetings and information interviews; accepted an invitation to begin a potentially long term search project in her ideal content and geographic areas; completed quantitative methods training; applied for an NSF quantitative methods training fellowship; and gathered and processed job ads for positions of interest. That’s a lot of work to have completed in three weeks. Recording you job search activities in one place like the Career Clarity and Weekly Job Search Organizer helps job seekers see the cumulation of their efforts as well as track time spent and progress made.
4. Streamline the information you are taking in.
It’s impossible to keep up with the all the latest blogs, news articles, and LinkedIn influencer posts on the job search, while also researching jobs in your target field and doing all the other work to network and apply for jobs. At some point, you will experience information overload. Find your trusted sources, stick to them, and then do the work in manageable portions.
5. Take time to reflect on the information you are receiving then act on the most valuable, pertinent advice.
It’s very easy to get caught up in attending countless networking events or in constant online research when you’re hunting down the job you want. In addition to taking time to take in information, you must also make time to process what you are learning. For example, one assistant professor at a midwestern university realized after a year of applying and unsuccessfully interviewing for nonacademic jobs that she might have to reconsider her job search priorities. She’d been prioritizing job rank rather than her needs for relocation to a new state. Her reflection on the job search also revealed that she would need to find a middle point to enter her desired field rather than expect to come in at a high job rank. This realization was sobering and humbling, but it helped her recalibrate her search and more effectively target job openings.