We’ve all been there. You sit down to jazz up your CV or write the perfect cover level and a million other things flash through your mind. You suddenly feel the urge to check your bank balance, feed the cat or look at your Facebook notifications. An hour passes and you’ve made no progress at all. Oh well, you’ll clock off and try again tomorrow. Only tomorrow brings with it similar distractions and duties…
Procrastination can really hamper your job search, potentially causing you to miss out on great roles or to put in half-hearted applications because you’re pushed for time when you finally get your head down. If you’re a serial procrastinator (and many of us are), it’s time to make some changes. Following these five simple steps could make a big difference to your job search.
Recognise the problem. If you don’t work out when and how you procrastinate, your job search rut is likely to keep stalling. Which tasks do you put off most routinely? Do you spend your time daydreaming or playing a computer game? Are you procrastinating because you don’t think you’ll do a good enough job? Once you’ve answered these questions, you can begin to address the issues that are holding you back.
Make a non-procrastination pledge. This may sound like a further form of procrastination, but making a pledge will hold you to your commitment to stop the delays and stay on track. First of all, make a plan of what you’re hoping to achieve each day for the next week. Decide what the best time of day is to work on your job search and ringfence this time. Some people prefer to get it out the way first thing, or to use an otherwise redundant lunch break. Commit to spending 10 minutes (or however long you think best) on your job search every day. Once you’re in the rhythm, you may naturally want to extend this time.
Stop making excuses. You may be conning yourself into thinking that you simply don’t have time to apply for jobs, but where is your time really going? Perhaps you’re putting off writing your CV until you’ve read up on what makes a great resume. But when will you get round to doing that, and how many articles will you need to read before you actually get started? Do you really need to check your Twitter account every five minutes? Could you do the dishes after you’ve spent five minutes working on it? The best approach is to sit down at a tidy desk, turn your phone off and get started. The fewer distractions there are, the more likely you are to get it done.
Put the effort in. As with any other aspect of our lives, the more effort you put in, the more likely you are to get good results. If you’re always rushing to get your application in at the last minute, it’s likely that hiring managers will pick up on this. Take time to read job descriptions carefully, making notes as you go through. Make sure your CV and cover letter fit it. Research the company and think about how you could help it achieve its objectives. Once you’re happy with them, check for typos or ask a friend to glance over it and give you feedback.
Be in it to win it. You may feel like your skills and experience aren’t going to get you very far in an oversaturated job market, but if you don’t apply you’ll never know! Making excuses won’t get you that dream job. Write the best CV and cover letter you can and tailor them to any relevant jobs you have found. Get them sent off well before the deadlines so you’re not under time pressure. The worst that can happen is you don’t get the job, buts in the best case scenario this step might be the first to a sparkling new career.
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Joy Tibbs is a freelance writer and editor who regularly contributes to Premier. Find out more at joyofediting.co.uk and find her on Twitter @joyous25