Setting limits on your job search

Conventional wisdom says that looking for a job is a full-time job. But, folks – summer is here, and this was a long hard winter in Michigan. Striking a balance between the job search and everything else always seems a little more challenging when the skies clear and the temperatures rise and the upcoming 3-day weekend beckons….

Setting limits

In my workshops I often talk about the hamster wheel of the job search. This is the place job seekers end up in when they’re constantly busy with activity related to the search, whether or not it’s actually progress towards a goal (like the constant “tweaking” of the resume that keeps someone from actually sending the resume out). There are times when a job seeker is legitimately burnt out on the job search and needs to refresh body, mind, and spirit, but the combined guilt/fear/panic swirling around the job search keeps them from (1) taking a break in the first place and (2) enjoying or receiving any benefit from the break because they’re freaked out about the fact that they’re taking a break.

Anybody been there before?

Blogger Cloud posted a while back about productivity at work. She figured out that if she spent 45 hours in the office, she produced 45 hours worth of work. If she spent 50 hours in the office, she produced about 45 hours worth of useful work. And if she spent 55 hours in the office, she ended up with about 41 hours worth of work – she exceeded her personal work limit and actually became LESS productive to her employer the more time she spent in the office.

I think there are some obvious parallels in the job search. If you’re researching something and end up in that sweet spot where you don’t even notice the passage of time – great. If you’re making progress getting through your list of phone calls and want to keep going – go right ahead. If there are a bunch of professional networking opportunities in your field coming up and you overload your schedule next week – okay, great. Make the most of those opportunities, because that sort of serendipity doesn’t always happen in the job search. But pay attention to your own personal limits and don’t work past that point; if you’re exhausted or crabby or distracted, you’re not going to help your cause.

It would be a mistake to think this is the same as giving yourself permission to duck out of your job search anytime you’re tired or not in the mood – if you’ve blocked off time for a task and it goes faster than you expect, spend the rest of that time tackling the next item on the list. Make use of the time you have – respect your personal limits – and bring your best self to your search every time. You deserve nothing less.


One thought on “Setting limits on your job search

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