6 Ways to Focus Your Job Search in a Crisis

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It’s harder than ever to focus with everything happening right now. The feelings of uncertainty during this unprecedented time can and will distract you from your goals. Life in flux and daily breaking news makes it difficult to stay on task. And if you happen to have kids at home, make it a double.

Right now there’s an eerie feeling and unprecedented change all around us. But in the midst of all this chaos, you may still need to find a job.

The good news is, my clients are getting jobs. So if you’re telling yourself “no one is hiring”, or hearing that (incorrect) message from other people, I invite you to shut that train down.

When I work with people I know right away which train they’re on. If they’re overwhelmed and kinda freaked out, I know they’ve been hearing and believing the rumors. So if you have too, it’s a good time to revisit.

Yes, life now is stressful. But it’s also an opportune time to realign your actions with your goals. It’s a good time to stop, take a step back to look at the where you can shift your outreach strategy to show up strong and stand out from the crowd.

Here are 5 strategies you can use to focus your remote job search and stay on track to finding your next role:

  1. Prioritize Sleep.

Too frequently, when we’re in a time of stress or uncertainty, healthy sleep habits are the first thing to go. Yet lack of sleep contributes to a rise in cortisol, the stress hormone best known for coloring your perception to a dull shade of gray. Picture rose-colored glasses, only the opposite. Instead, make sleep a priority. Inch up your bedtime, power down an hour early, and try a sleep app like Calm.

  1. Plan your day around goal-setting best practices.

For those of us who are used to go to an office, having a dedicated space, priorities, and deadlines outlined for us, working at home under the best of circumstances is challenging.

This article outlines a helpful method for maximizing your productivity while working from home.

However, for most of us, the big question is, how to avoid constant distractions? There’s the laundry, the kids, the news, and Facebook. With all this beckoning for your attention, it’s hard to stay on track with job search tasks.

One helpful method for dealing with this common problem is to take a good look at your go-to distractions.

3. Write down your most common distractions.

For example, you keep interrupting your work to check social media, or you feel like you need to keep monitoring your kid’s study habits. Whatever it is, write it down!

Then review the list and answer the following questions:

  • Is it a habit (something you regularly do, like checking your phone?)
  • Is it triggered by difficult tasks?
  • Is it stress-relieving?

Now that you’re paying attention to these behaviors, it’s easier to manage them. A great strategy is to use distractions as a reward when you accomplish a task or goal. This is called When/Then Planning. (note: yes, laundry can feel like a break when you’re working on your job search, chores count as distractions!

To try it, calendar time for your go-to distractions, sandwiched in between your scheduled tasks:

(for example; When I’m tempted to check Facebook after making one or two calls, then I’ll wait until I reach my goal of 10 before I give myself a (strictly) 5-minute break.

4. Trade testimonials.

Most of us loathe the idea of asking someone to give us a good referral. It feels so tacky. But in the hiring world, an objective opinion is the difference between a positive customer review and a magazine ad. When you’re in a new city, looking for a restaurant, which source are you likely to believe? The 5-star review or the glossy, full-color promo?

So yes to asking for referrals, but no to tacky asks. The good news is, shifting the focus from getting to giving is the fast path to receiving a testimonial or referral.

Go deep on this one. Who can you give a testimonial to that would never expect it? Who can you do the honor of noticing? Think outside of the box – you don’t have to know someone well to appreciate them. A former colleague, a vendor, and a customer service person. Leave 10 LinkedIn referrals and you may not even need to ask to have the favor returned.

5. Learn to Zoom.

Life is challenging for most people right now, which is why it’s a good time to reconnect with former colleagues or other people in your network to see how they’re managing. While in-person options are limited, how can you connect with your network using Zoom or another free and easy-to-use video chat option?

This is an opportunity to step into a leadership role and help others while connecting with and supporting your community. Inviting others to join a Zoom meeting around a topic associated with reaching career goals creates a win-win.

6. Find grace at this moment.

I’ve been so impressed that, while we’re all experiencing various stages of apprehension, many people have self-selected social distance for the good of the whole. And from what I’ve seen we’ve done it gracefully, mostly free of judgment and competition. I feel proud to be a part of my community.

These are uncertain times, and much of life seems out of our control. Focusing on the impact you can make on the things that matter most is your best path forward. You’ll emerge from this transition, lessons learned, ready to make the best of whatever life brings.

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