How To Overcome Job Search Procrastination

You’ve made up your mind, it’s time to move on from your current job and start looking for career advancement elsewhere. Whether you’re anxiously awaiting the day you can ditch your micromanager of a boss or you’ve simply outgrown your current position despite how much you love it, no one recommends diving into a job search head first without any preparation. At the same time, there’s a fine line between being prepared and simply procrastinating.

Making major career changes can be emotionally and mentally taxing, so it’s easy to see why most of us wait longer than we need to before making a change. Waiting is passive, it requires little to no action from you and, unfortunately, human nature makes us prefer passivity over action. So how can you prepare for your job search without falling into the procrastination trap?

Preparing takes action, procrastination doesn’t: Preparing is actionable. When you’re polishing your resume, buying a new interview outfit, contacting a recruiter to express your interest in a new job and even saving up enough money so that you’ll be able to handle a few months of unemployment, you’re taking steps to make your career change happen. Even making pro and con lists about your current job or writing down the top five things you’re looking for in a new job can be genuine, actionable preparation. However, if you find yourself falling behind on these actions, putting them off, or going days on end without making any preparation progress, you’re procrastinating. Start taking action as soon as possible to get your job search going again!

Set deadlines for yourself: One way to avoid procrastinating is to set deadlines for your job search and take them seriously. People often forget to think of their job search as work, which results in a lack of action and a tendency to procrastinate. Set a date for having a final draft of your resume ready, for deciding which aspects of a job are most important to you, and for applying to a certain number of positions. Hold yourself as accountable for these as you would for any normal work deadline and you’ll avoid procrastination.

Don’t over think it: Job search procrastination rears its ugly head in many ways, but it often stems from over thinking. When you’re preparing for your job search you want to be thorough and ready for anything. But how much time can you really spend making pro and con lists, dreaming up your responses to interview scenarios and planning your interview attire? It’s good to give every aspect of your job search some amount of thought, but procrastination comes when you spend all of your time thinking and none of your time taking action. Blend the more thought-focused aspects of your job search preparation with actionable tasks and you’ll make progress without sacrificing your thought process.

You have to pull the trigger eventually: You want this. You’ve thought about it and prepared for it but, for some strange reason, you’re having a hard time actually sending out your resume. It isn’t for lack of combing through job ads or researching recruiters, so what gives? The hardest form of procrastination to overcome is often the first step. The first time you send your newly refreshed resume out will feel monumental compared to the second, third, fourth and so on. The best way to avoid procrastinating your first step is to just do it! Clear your mind, pull the trigger, and let your job search begin.

Planning for a job search can be great. The steps you are taking now could make all the difference in your future interviews and the trajectory of your career. However, if you’re not careful, planning for a job search can easily turn into procrastination. Start with actionable tasks and try not to over think it for a faster, more effective job search.