It’s never a good idea to conduct a job search in a state of desperation, fear or panic. Setting yourself up with the right mindset is just as important as the work you do finding and applying for jobs.
Yes, you are without a job right now, but that is not the end of the world. You have the talent, the ambition and the experience to get another job. It’s more a question of when that happens. With the right tactics for undertaking your job search, you can move things within your control.
Just keep this in mind: If you expand your search and network to where the majority of other job seekers are not even looking, your probability of getting what you want goes through the roof. That’s exactly what we do with the job search strategy that we teach.
You can come out of this better off than you were before if you’re prepared to work at it.
Keeping calm, focused and positive is the best strategy for success. But that’s easy for me to say, so I’ve got to back it up with some solid advice to help put you in the strongest position to start your job search.
What Does Your Day Look Like?
What does your current ‘finding work‘ day look like? If it’s anything like the majority of job hunters we encounter, it is fairly unstructured, to say the least.
There might be a lot of social media, a general lack of concentration and little or no plan for how to go about your search. It might involve torturing yourself in the knowledge that you are not doing what you need to do.
This all leads to a feeling of being in no-mans land. We call it the Bermuda triangle of redundancy.
You’re not getting very far with your job search and you’re not having much fun in the process.
How can you be expected to put in your best day when you’re miserable and scared?
I’m going to be quite prescriptive here and give you some structure. But please don’t feel like you’re losing control over your day, on the contrary, I will be giving you freedom!
Your day should be split into two halves: Focused work on your job hunt followed by some fun, relaxation and recharging.
Here’s an exercise:
Step 1 – Write down exactly what your current day looks like.
Show warts and all. Be totally honest with yourself. How much time are you spending on your search? How much time are you spending on social media or whatever you like to distract yourself with? How well are you eating? How do you feel about your job search? How do you feel about yourself?
However good/bad this day is, this is your baseline, this is your 1/10 day.
Step 2 – Imagine the best possible day you could have.
It could involve making great progress on your job search, making great connections, preparing the perfect CV. Having a great lunch and discussion with your partner. Perhaps you’d like to get back into running, maybe you want to go and catch a film at the cinema or meet up with some friends.
Alongside doing great work on your job search and having some fun, it’ll be important to take some time to look after yourself. Some personal development will go a long way to making your day more enjoyable as well as improving your job-hunting skills.
Write down exactly what your perfect day looks like. Your 10/10 day.
Step 3 – Notice the difference between the baseline and perfect days.
We want to get you to that perfect day, but it’s not going to happen overnight. Aim for 5/10 first, you can reach 10 later.
What would you have to be doing to get yourself to the 5/10 day? What would your priorities be?
Make a list of things to introduce into your ‘finding work’ days just to get you to 5/10 for now.
Working Towards Your Perfect Day
Let’s take it one step at a time.
Are you familiar with the term ‘Eat That Frog!’. It comes from the book of the same name by Brian Tracy. You can read it, but I can summarise it right here.
If you put off a big task that you’re not keen on doing until later in the day then the likelihood of actually doing it reduces dramatically. I mean, the probability virtually disappears!
However, if you get that task done first thing in the morning, making it the first thing you take on, then you’ll almost guarantee it gets done.
Structure your day like this:
- Job search in the morning.
- Fun in the afternoon.
The way I like to view it is that you’re aiming to feel like a Monk in the morning and a Millionaire in the afternoon!
Around these, you could fit in some personal development practices that will supercharge your day. Believe me, they will, we have feedback from hundreds of clients that can confirm this.
That’s your starting point. A simple half and half division. Then we can start filling in the details.
Starting the Day the Right Way
No more rolling yourself out of bed at 10am to make yourself a hardly-earned breakfast and then sitting in front of the TV for an hour.
You’re a Better Work Hero, we ask for more of you in the morning!
The morning is a vital part of your day. We’ve already talked about how it’s important to get that big, hairy, scary task done first. But it’s also a good idea to set your day up for success in the first place.
Tip 1 – Get up at the same time every day, and make it decently early.
You don’t need to be Mark Wahlberg waking up at 3 am, but you don’t want to miss the magic of the morning. Find your happy medium. A time that you can agree to get up at, but that you’re not fully comfortable with. Push yourself a little bit with your wake up time to make sure your brain knows this is important. If you let your brain off with an 8 am wake up it will think it’s won.
Tip 2 – Down a glass of water and then do something you know you should be doing.
You know the things I mean. It could be 5 minutes of star jumps or whatever exercise you like. It could be 10 minutes of meditation or yoga. It could be a 30 min walk with your dog.
Get moving, whether it’s your body or your brain. Preferably both.
Tip 3 – Prepare the day before.
OK, these aren’t in chronological order, but if you turn up at your desk to get stuck into that day’s job hunting and it’s a complete tip, how eager will you be to get started?
At the end of each ‘finding work’ session, have a clear up and make a note of what you need to do the next day. Not only will you be setting yourself up for the next session, you will be clearing your head for the rest of the day.
Tip 4 – Remove Distractions.
You’re giving yourself an afternoon of fun, what more do you want? Be respectful to yourself and ensure that your morning job search is kept sacred by turning off notifications and removing distractions.
Sometimes this means working somewhere where there are no distractions (i.e. not next to the cookie jar or the television!). If you can’t trust yourself at home, find somewhere else like the library, a coffee shop or a park bench.
When you sit down to get stuck into finding your new job, it can help to develop a little routine.
Mine looks like this:
- Headphones on.
- Instrumental music of choice on.
- Close eyes and visualise my morning session.
- “5,4,3,2,1… Let’s Go!”
If that sounds too American for you, I challenge you to try it and report back to us!
Make Lunchtime a Thing
What do I mean by this? Well, it’s easier to describe it as the opposite of making a quick, uninspiring lunch as an afterthought.
Put some thought into your lunch and really appreciate it. You’ve probably spent a lot of your employed time rushing lunch, if you have one at all. Now you have a chance to do it properly.
Make something healthy, delicious and shareable. Get other people involved, whether that’s your partner, kids or friends. Talk. Talk about your job search a little bit if you want, but don’t dwell on it.
Savour your food, enjoy the moment, after all you’ve got an afternoon of fun coming up!
If you’re arranging coffees or lunch meetups with some contacts related to your job search, make it interesting. Offer a walk and talk or take them to your favourite coffee shop/cafe. These meetups, as we’ll find out later, are more about making a connection than talking about the actual work or company.
Your lunch is an opportunity to wind down from your job search into the next part of your day.
Afternoon Fun Time
I could have picked a better title for this section, I’ll give you that.
The concept with the afternoon fun time is quite simple. You don’t want to be wallowing in your own self-pity. You want to be taking your mind off the job search, recharging and taking advantage of the fact that you don’t have a job to do!
If there is anything you’ve been meaning to try out, schedule it in now! If there are people you’ve been meaning to see, go and see them! Your job might have been getting in the way of a lot of things and you have a great opportunity to actually do them now.
Use this fun afternoon as a reward for your hard work in the morning. Give yourself a deadline of 1pm at which point you must stop working on your job search. Unless of course, you have an interview. But that’s a good thing!
Often, when people are faced with this situation they have no idea what they would do. Don’t overcomplicate it. Would you like to go for a long walk? Would you like to spend all afternoon having a lazy lunch, chatting with an old friend?
Do something that makes you feel good. That reminds you that it’s not all about work.
In addition, I want to push you a little bit on doing something that improves you. Make sure you use some of this extra time on your hands to keep yourself on your toes and ready to make an impact when you do get that job.
I’m talking about personal development. Or to put it in a more user friendly way: doing something every day to be a little better than you were yesterday.
We’ve tested all sorts of personal development practices out on ourselves and our guinea pigs (I mean valued clients 🙊). We’ve arrived at a place where we have a package of high-impact practices that can be done easily, quickly and give fast results in many different areas.
Here are our top 3 daily practices:
We’ve mentioned it already as part of a morning set-up, but it’s worth emphasising how much of an impact this can have when done as a daily practice.
Meditation gives you the opportunity to examine your own thoughts, without judgement. If you’ve been struggling with anxiety, panic, spiralling thoughts about your future as a result of being without work then meditation can help bring your mind back to a level playing field.
We’ve put together a fantastic guide to getting into meditation the easy way. If there’s one thing we always recommend for job searchers, it is meditation.
Getting people to carry out controlled breathing exercises is more of a hard sell, but potentially can have a bigger impact on your day.
We’ve been experimenting with breathwork for a few years now and it has become our go-to practice when we need a boost, although we do it almost every day anyway. Among our clients, breathwork is by far the most popular practice to take up and stick with as part of a daily routine. They love it.
We have a great introduction to the Wim Hof Method (our favourite, and most accessible breathing exercise) to get you started. This works brilliantly as a break in the middle of your ‘finding work’ session to give you added energy for the rest of your morning.
Working solidly all morning is not conducive to an efficient job search. Add some mini-breaks into your morning to make sure you stay on track and get the most out of your work.
Exercise is often another hard-sell, but the key to getting started is to keep it small and impactful.
An exercise mini-break is exactly what it says on the tin. Take just 5 minutes to do a session of push-ups or kettlebells, or pull-ups, or even walking up and down some stairs. Just something that gets you out of breath or raises your heartbeat or makes you sweat (it’s fine, you’re not at work so you can take a quick shower!).
Down a glass of water, then get back into your job search and notice how you feel post-exercise.
Find Your Support Network
“I need to do this alone.”, “It’s a sense of pride.”, “I can find my own employment, just to show the world I’m capable and in control.”
If that’s you. Stop right now.
Just ask for help.
Do it now while you’re setting yourself up for your job search so that when you really need to ask for help, when it’s your job search that requires you to reach out, then you’ve already got over this pride crap.
Don’t do any of this alone, it’s a big thing. It’s not often (hopefully anyway) that you find yourself without work and wondering about your future. Make sure you’re talking to someone that can listen to you and let you get it all out. If there’s one time when you need a friend or loved one to just sit and listen, it’s now. They’re happy to do it, trust me, just ask them.
If it helps, treat it as an organised listening session where you just do a brain dump on how you feel. Even just voicing your concerns is enough to make a difference.
Once you’ve got that off your chest, start building your support network. This will be as important as the business network that we will build later.
Everybody should aim to have five people in their support network:
- A Mentor – someone to learn from
- A Coach – a guide for your direction and thoughts
- A Cheerleader – someone that recognises your achievements
- A Monitor – someone that you are accountable to
- A Comrade – someone that is taking the same journey as you
You don’t need all of these straight away, for example a mentor is more of a nice to have further down the line, and they don’t all need to be different people. At Better Work Heroes, we position ourselves as mentor and coach to clients but there are elements of all the categories that we need to bring out when necessary.
The most important roles to set up for your job search are a cheerleader and monitor. Someone that keeps your spirits up and someone that keeps you accountable. Don’t be too proud or embarrassed to ask someone to be these for you. You don’t need to be asking much of their time, perhaps just set up a weekly call.
Finding a comrade, someone in the same position, might be easier than you think. Were other people made redundant at the same time as you? Could you band together and help each other out?
We want to see the process of finding, developing and changing a job or career become more of a communal process because that is when the most successful outcomes are made.
Setting yourself up with the right frame of mind doesn’t have to be about understanding psychology or growth mindset. Sometimes you just need a system to get yourself moving in the right direction and staying on track.
This is what we’ve used to help clients pick themselves back up and prepare themselves for a stellar job search.
If you’re wondering about the actual details of the job search, we’re coming to that next!
Does this sound like a system you can stick to?