Applying for Jobs: Focus on the Process

eyeglassesLast week I shared an article about why you should build systems rather than set goals and discussed the inherent difficulty of applying this to the job search because it’s such a goal-oriented process. But that doesn’t mean it’s impossible.

Here are a few ways you can apply for jobs without driving yourself insane with dreams of the finish line:

1. Think “a” not “the”: when you’re starting out your job search, make your focus to get “a job,” not “the job.” Of course, you have to do the proper research for all the positions you apply for, but force yourself not to fall in love with any of them. If you let yourself get too excited about that one perfect job from the very beginning, it can distract you from applying to others and, even worse, discourage you if things don’t work out. So, keep things broad, and don’t let yourself get stuck by over-investing your hopes in anything too specific. (Confession: I struggle with this one, a lot.)

2. Time it right: don’t give yourself tasks to do; give yourself a time quota to fulfill. Say, “I’m going to work for 45 minutes on job stuff every Monday, Wednesday, Thursday, and Sunday,” and stick to this even if you’re not in the middle of applying to a specific job. Use that time to do research, search for other jobs, or just update your LinkedIn. This’ll not only keep you on your feet; it’ll keep you from going stir crazy while you wait to hear back from the jobs you’ve already applied to.

3. Take a break: when you keep applying to job after job without ever coming up for air, you can grow fatigued. But not only that; without any reflection, the entire process can start to feel surreally like an exercise, some sort of job application simulator that doesn’t actually lead anywhere. As James Clear points out on Entrepreneur, building a system is about making slow, steady progress. You don’t want to be looking too far in the future, but there’s nothing wrong with taking a break and reflecting on the work you’ve done. So when you build your system for applying to jobs, make sure to leave some air pockets in there.

That’s our take on how to focus on the process rather than the outcome of the job search. How do you keep yourself from going crazy? Let us know in the comments.

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