Set Smaller Tasks to Help Reach Bigger Job Search Goals
When you’re conducting any job search, whether it's with the help of social media or not, obviously your ultimate goal is to land a job. But the reality is that you aren’t going to achieve that ultimate goal without setting smaller, intermediate tasks to help get you there step by step.
Just think about it for a moment. You can’t have get a job on your to-do list without feeling a certain amount of anxiety. But if you chunk that larger goal down into smaller and smaller steps until you can’t go any smaller, you’ll reduce your anxiety level and feel a sense of accomplishment as you complete each smaller item.
How exactly do you go about breaking down the massive goal of getting a job into smaller tasks? Simply ask yourself, What do I need to do that? Ask yourself that same question each time you write down a new task. For example, you may come up with something like this:
Get a job. What do I need to do that? Write a good résumé. What do I need to do that? Buy a résumé writing book. . . .
Buying a résumé writing book is a lot less scary than writing an entire résumé from scratch, and focusing on the smaller tasks first will help you not get overwhelmed with the big-picture goals.
The best way to track progress and get feedback about your goals is to use a scorecard. A scorecard is a spreadsheet that lists each step you take in order to achieve an outcome. A scorecard allows you to track your plan and record what actually happened.
|Milestone||Task||Measurable Definition||Time Frame/
|Get a new job||Receiving a written offer from a target company at the salary I want||6 months|
|Have a good interview with a hiring manager||Interviewing with a hiring manager who’s actively seeking to fill a position I want||1 per week|
|Apply to jobs online||Applying to jobs that I have a chance of qualifying for||5 per week|
|Attend networking groups with like-minded people||Meeting 10 new people per week and attending at least 3 events per week||Weekly|
|Update résumé||Having my résumé reviewed and approved by a professional résumé writer||Within a week|
|Hire professional résumé writer||Finding a résumé writer with recommendations who fits my budget||Tomorrow|
|Build a personal brand||Looking consistent in all aspects of my job search||1 month|
|Come up with a value statement based on my strengths||Reciting it to people who seem interested in what I do||1 day|
|Polish up LinkedIn profile||Completing profile so that it’s attractive and consistent with my résumé||1 week||8 days|
|Write an article expressing my views on a professional topic||Receiving comments and feedback from my network||1 day||2 hours|
|Maintain my skills and industry knowledge||Volunteering in a role that requires my core skills||4 hours per week|
|Sign up for a continuing education class for a skill I need||Adding this skill to my résumé||1 month||1 month|
Here’s how to build your very own scorecard to keep track of your job-searching progress:
Create a table like the example, using word-processing or spreadsheet software or even just a blank piece of paper.
Write out your desired outcome, the measurable definition, and its time frame in the top row of the table.
Write down everything you think you have to do in order to achieve that outcome.
Group related tasks and identify goals that require more than one task to accomplish.
Goals that require more than one task are called milestones and are put in the far left column. Smaller tasks that can be finished without intermediary steps are put in the second to left column under Task.
Group individual tasks under their related milestones and make sure each milestone has simple and concrete tasks under it.
Fill in the Actual column as you complete each step with how long it took you to complete.
By recording the actual time it took to complete a task, you’re doing more than just checking items off of your to-do list. You’re actually comparing the reality of a task with what you expected. From this comparison, you can gauge your level of commitment as well as the accuracy of your expectations.
Running a job search can be one of the most stressful things you ever do. So why not make it a habit to celebrate at least one accomplishment per week? When you pass a milestone, walk out from a good job interview, or finish a difficult task (like ranking in Google for your name), celebrate that success. These small celebrations can help you stay motivated for your search duration.