Job searching. Not your favorite pastime, I'm sure. For many, it consists of unfun and even dreaded action steps such as getting your resume together and networking and doing research and interviewing.
So let's make it easier on yourself.
I have a - related - personal example for you. When it comes to exercising, I refuse to go to a gym and work out.
I despise it. Won't happen.
I want to do something I either enjoy (such as dancing, rollerblading, ice skating, skiing, martial arts) that gives me a good workout in the process. Or, I'll do something that lets me kill two birds with one stone such as biking to and fro and getting my cardio that way.
I repeat: I will not exercise at a gym.
I've tried it several times and found that I hate the machines, can't stand aerobics classes, and I'm bored the second I pick up a dumbbell. (No offense to anyone who loves this. In fact; more power to you if you do - pun intended!)
But now - for the first time - I've found a compromise! Last night, I Zumba'd for the very first time and loved it! (It's a hybrid between aerobics/fitness and Latin American dance such as salsa, samba, meringue, etc. - brilliant!) Whereas dance classes can have you standing around figuring out the new steps or waiting for the rest to catch up, Zumba is one hour of high energy/high sweat/high fun workout.
The moral of this story?
You don't have to go to the gym (insert your biggest job search dislike) and do what most people are doing.
Realize that, yes, certain steps simply have to be taken and some also need to be done in order. (In my example: put on exercise clothes and work up a sweat.) But other than that, you can do it your way!
Maybe you are so afraid of doing something wrong you've latched on to whatever job search advice you have gotten and are following it rigidly and religiously.
This may be great if it happens to be solid advice and you feel comfortable doing it. But if you're struggling to make your way through the job transition maze, here are some ways to weave in some fun:
First of all, find something you do like about your job search. There is bound to be an aspect that gets you going. (If not, call me!)
Maybe doing research is just your thing. Well, great! A fantastic place to start a job or career transition anyway!
Or, perhaps you are the consummate people person. Guess what - networking is still the most successful way of landing your next job.
Whenever possible, start your job transition with this activity you enjoy. Or, if changing jobs is just an exercise in ghastliness to you, find the least excruciating action step.
The idea here is to get moving. Forget saving the best for last. If you're stuck in inertia, you need to know things will become much more manageable once you get moving and start getting results from your efforts. So start with the easy stuff.
For example, if you just lost your job and you feel like commiserating with friends; call them up! And join a job search support group. This could be your first step. Next, you'll focus on more diverse networking groups and efforts, but a support group could be just the ticket to start making some new connections and get you in the right frame of mind.
Cherry pick what works for you.
For example: if you've heard online networking is the hottest thing since sliced bread (which it is) but you only just mastered email...start with in-person networking. The real world is not dead yet! The local chamber of commerce is a great place. Meetup.com may offer get-togethers applicable to you, and industry associations are usually a great way to meet people in person. And, don't forget plain old barbecues and family parties. The best connections resulting in leads and job offers often originate there!
And don't forget reunions and alumni events!
Lighten up! Network with the people you like!
Sure, sometimes a really strategic contact is someone you'd never hang out with on a personal level. But here's the thing about those contacts: if they are uncomfortable to you; chances are they and their company may not be a good match for you anyway. Of course there's more to an organization than one employee. And, if you end up working there, you might never again have to deal with this person.
However, there's something else to consider: when you're talking with someone you like, you're at your best. You shine and show your true colors. This puts you in the best possible light for referrals and other invites. So if you have the option to network with the hot shots or build a true relationship with a few great people; I'd opt for the latter. In the end; networking is truly about relationships.
Outsource or get help with the aspects you like least.
Get a coach or resume writer on board for those steps you just can't wrap your head around or just can't motivate yourself to do. You'll be amazed how much easier things become when you're guided!
Final words of advice: remember many small steps make a big effort so identify what makes you feel best and start there. Don't try to be perfect as this will only lead to inertia and analysis paralysis. Be easy on yourself, look back on everything you've already accomplished and know your next opportunity is around the corner. Even if it takes several months - which is not at all unusual these days. Don't give up in the eleventh hour!
What other ways have you found that make job searching more fun for you? Or, at least more bearable? Your thoughts are appreciated here! Your comments too, for that matter.
About the Author:
Ilona (rhymes with Fiona) Vanderwoude's passion is helping modern-day Renaissance Personalities - those with highly diverse skills and interests - create exciting lives and careers. As a Career Designer, she guides her clients in crafting unusual life and career plans, helps them fit a million passions into one lifetime, and provides the tactical support to actually make it happen. Ilona founded CareerBranches in 2001, is a nationally published author, and holds elite resume-writing and coaching credentials (she's one of 28 Master Resume Writers worldwide).