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Stay Focused In Your Search

From Career Tips, 2010 Volume 9, September

A common issue in any extended career search is difficulty maintaining focus.

This is easy to understand. When you feel you aren't making progress, it's natural to think that perhaps you're aiming for the wrong target.

More often, though, what I see is that job seekers:
  1. Give up on the focused search too soon,
  2. Never had a well-focused target in the first place,
  3. Have a well-focused target in their own mind, but fail to express it well, or
  4. Allow every suggestion from others as to what they SHOULD be exploring distract them from their target.
Every time you change paths, thinking that one is more likely or might be faster than the one you are on, it costs you momentum in your search. You need to reacquaint your entire network with your new target, and show them why you are just as strong a candidate and just as passionate about that target area / job. You need to reorient all of your messaging and materials towards the new destination.

I think back to "Jim", who knew exactly what he wanted to do, but felt he needed to broaden his search. He said he had already talked to a lot of recruiters, been on some interviews, and knew there weren't openings out there for that.

I challenged him to maintain complete focus on exactly what he wanted to do. I showed him how to turn his résumé into a sales brochure for that role, craft a focused marketing message, deliver a "HERO Story" that would present the package he brought to the table in a compelling way once he had someone's undivided attention, and how to use those to build an effective spider web of contacts to move his search forward.

Along the way, he would come across an unrelated opportunity, and ask me about developing an alternative set of materials to present himself for that. I consistently told him that while we could do that, I felt it would be a waste of the time and energy he could instead be putting into his focused search for what he really wanted.

Before long, "Jim" had multiple openings he was being considered for, doing what he loved to do. (Of course, he took one of those!)

I'm not advocating that you shouldn't re-evaluate, just that you shouldn't do it lightly. You should pick a significant period to pursue as tightly focused as possible a search for one specific target. And when you do decide it's time to shift gears, create an equally focused new target, and let everyone know exactly what it is. Then pursue that new target in an equally focused manner...

And if you're just struggling with ideas on how to continue pursuing that focused target, check out some of the ideas here.


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