Job Search Trap: Too Much to Do

Today's job search trap is something we can all identify with: biting off a big chunk of work and not getting it to done fast enough. I suspect we have all been there and done that!

How do you avoid this particular trap? I like to assess each of my tasks on my board and ask, “Do any of these look as if they will be more than two hours long?”

Two hours is not a lot of time. Two hours is long enough for me to make progress on something and get it to done. It's also long enough that I'm likely to complete it. And that's the key.

You know what the problems are in a job search: you have interruptions, such as phone calls; your family needs you to drive them or do laundry or something else; you want a perfect resume. The list goes on and on.

Instead, think of ways to make your tasks smaller. Here are some approaches:

  • What's the first thing you do? Is this a series of tasks, where you have glommed things together? For example, “Write resume” is really at least three tasks: Draft resume, ask several people to review it, send it out for review. You might even decide that “Draft resume” is “Timebox draft resume to 60 minutes.”
  • How can you make your tasks independent? Are you researching a job fair? Or researching companies? Look at the job fair and decide if you want to go. That's the first decision. If you do, that's the trigger event for all the other research for the job fair. Same thing for researching companies. Look at the about page for their mission statement, or their locations, or whatever is most important to you. Do you want to consider working there? If so, that's the trigger event for all your other decisions.
  • Separate one long task into its component tasks. Do you have many phone calls or emails scheduled for one long “task”? You may have scheduled your “LinkedIn work” for the afternoon. But it's a combination of replying to requests to connect, deciding which groups to participate in, deciding if you want to write recommendations, and what to write, the list goes on. Those aren't really one long task, are they? They all happen to take place on LinkedIn, but they aren't related. Separate these unrelated large chunks into smaller chunks. This is different from the first bullet, because those are related. This is unrelated work.

Tomorrow is the last day of the Manage Your Job Search launch. Yes, I ran the launch Wednesday-Wednesday. That's one of the tips in Manage Your Job Search, to start your week on a Wednesday. Today is the last conference call about tips and traps. I'll do a quick intro and answer your questions. Join me?

P.S. I just fixed the title of this post. I misspelled the too, as in too much to do. Oopsie!

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