Tell me about your week, what kinds of things did you do to find work? The response I get from this question sometimes is fascinating…truly. I often wonder how people get anything done with so many “squirrels and shiny things” causing distractions. One of my favourite answers to this question was, “reading a book about why I procrastinate.” My response to this was, “Can you explain how reading this book is helping you find a job?” Of course there was no explanation, but it did reveal something important; I was told that employer rejection and fear of returning to the workforce after a long time away is a big factor in the procrastination.
There are many reasons people choose squirrels and shiny things over searching for work but in the big picture, those squirrels and shiny things are hindering success! While it’s true that looking at cat videos, providing status updates in Facebook, viewing sports scores and researching the latest fashion, autos or audio equipment is far more exciting than job searching, it is also true that the time you spend with things unrelated to your job search will only increase the time it takes to find a job. This all boils down to time management, focus and determination to achieve the outcome you want.
Does this mean no more squirrels and shiny things? No, it just means that the more exciting things need a time out in order to focus on the important things and once the important things have been accomplished, the exciting things become the reward for a job well done. Think of it like a game and challenge yourself to obtain those exciting squirrels and shiny things by keeping score and upping the ante to earn more points for more time. However, the time spent on your fun activities or distractions should never exceed more than one hour in duration, so a timer for your activities may be needed. Remember, this game is for people who are treating their job search as a full-time job…meaning, spending 8 hours per day or 40 hours per week participating in job search activities.)
Here are some examples of job search tasks with time and points associated with them; (Note: The intent is to use the rewards AFTER you complete a job search task(s) and the time spent on the rewards should not hinder your next task.
|Job Search Task||Points||Time Allotted|
|Attend Career Workshop||30||2 hours|
|Register with ALIS or O*NET & Take Assessment(s)||10 *||20 minutes|
|Research Occupations & Wage info on ALIS or O*NET||50||2 hours|
|Register with online job boards||10||1 hour|
|Set-up Job board agents||15||20 minutes|
|Update/Create Resume||20||1 hour|
|Update/Create Cover Letter||30||1 hour|
|Target Specific Employers for Applications||40||1 hours|
|Research Targeted Employers||25||2 hours|
|Contact Previous Employers/Co-Workers for References||10 *||30 minutes|
|Apply for _______ Jobs||5 *||2 hours|
|Contact ______ Employers by phone||10||1 hour|
|Contact _______ Employers in person||30||4 hours|
|Set-Up Informational Interview(s) with Employer||20 *||15 minutes|
|Join/Participate in Networking Groups/Events||25||2 hours|
|Attend Job Fairs/Employer Information Sessions||40||3 hours|
|Practice Interview Skills||20||1 hour|
|Conduct Employer Follow-Up||15*||1 hour|
|Attend Employer Interview (Informational or regular)||50||2 hours|
|Send or Drop off Interview Thank you Cards||20 *||15 minutes|
* Indicates points for each one you do, for instance; if you apply for 4 jobs online, you earned 20 points, as they are 5 points each. ALIS is Alberta Learning and Information Service and you can find the assessments at http://careerinsite.alberta.ca/careerinsite.aspx O*NET is the United States version of ALIS where you can find occupational information and assessments at http://www.onetonline.org/
Here are a few examples of squirrels and shiny things…How do you earn these activities? Complete job search tasks that add up to the points needed. Keep in mind, the more fun, relaxing or distracting the activity is, the higher the points become. Also, to get more time with these activities, you will need to double the points from your job search tasks to get double the time with these activities.
|Squirrels and Shiny Things||Points||Time Allowed|
|Playing Computer or Video Games||85||20 minutes|
|Text Use, Tablet Use, Skype Use, App Use, Online Chat||75||15 minutes|
|Surfing the Internet||50||15 minutes|
|Phoning friends/family||30||10 minutes|
|Meeting a friend for lunch/coffee||90||1 hour|
|Reading (Reviews, Online Articles, Newspaper or books)||35||15 minutes|
|Facebook and Other Social Networking||60||20 minutes|
A major reason and benefit of doing this, is to maintain your job search as your first priority. However, it also helps to take breaks from job searching and do the things you enjoy, so you don’t start feeling overwhelmed, isolated, depressed and bored. Often times, challenging yourself and having a reward to look forward to can keep you motivated and help you achieve success.
For more about tracking your time and activities see my last blog post “Time in the Big Picture-An Action Plan for Job Search Results”