June 1, 2011

Motivation, Motivation

School's out, it's warm and sunny (hopefully) outside, and you've just come off of a week (or two) of intensive testing and are ready to kick back for three months. Right?

Wrong! Welcome to the next stage of your life: job-hunting. I've mentioned before how job-hunting is a full-time job. While it was well and good for me to blather on about it, here's some tips for keeping you on the straight and narrow, focused on that big end goal: The Offer.

1. Schedule Yourself

First and foremost, make a schedule of your days. Of course there's going to be variation in the days, because you'll have other commitments. Your mother may need you to run errands, or you'll have doctor's appointments and the like. Still, the first step to treating your job search like a full-time job is to treat your job search like a full-time job. That's it.

Work to wake up at the same time every day. If that's noon, well, you may want to reconsider your life choices. Noon means that after showering, lunch, and booting up your computer, you have roughly four hours to call recruiters (should you need to) or network with contacts during the day. Unless you're really looking for work internationally, keeping American hours is your best best.

Schedule out your hours in a way that makes sense to you. My mornings are spent going through the news cycle and the blog rolls, retweeting news articles and op-ed pieces that strike me as interesting. I also read the actual newspaper, something that business students aren't doing enough. I've said it before: if you're not reading the paper every day, you're doing it wrong. The Journal allows for its full content to be accessible via Google News, and you can use Google Reader aggregate headlines.

My afternoons are spent applying for jobs, drafting cover letters, and updating this blog. It's important to me that I accomplish this. I will admit, however, that I slack off the afternoons sometimes, oftentimes to meet up with friends of mine that I have not seen in months. I do, however, make up the hours later in the evening.

2. Set Goals for Yourself

Goals help you stay on track, always. Set application goals -- six resumes sent out a week, four jobs applied to a day, whatever. I check job boards such as Indeed and Econ-Jobs.com daily for new postings and listings. My general goal is to investigate (and/or apply for) two jobs in the morning, or three jobs after lunch. Fairly achievable, but still concrete and a challenge.

3. Get Dressed

This might seem like a pretty obvious command, but hear me out. We all feel much more alive/human/awake in the mornings once we've brushed out teeth, combed our hair, and put on clothes that aren't out pajamas. I know for myself that staying in my pajamas all day makes it much harder to resist that post-lunch carb-coma nap!

When you wake up, force yourself to get dressed, have breakfast, shower, and change into nicer clothes. Make your bed, too, if that helps! This will get you in a mindset of, "I'm not in pajamas, so it's time to get down to business!" Sometimes a frame of mind is all we need to change our attitude.

4. Have Pump-You-Up Song

Is there a song that really energizes you? Does it make you want to get up and dance, or just perk you up in general? Get a copy of that (iTunes, Rhapsody, even YouTube) and listen to it before you begin job searching! Lately I've been blasting Hello by Martin Sloveig every morning after I finish reading the news. It gets my excited to sift through hundreds of job posting, ha.

5. Change Locations

Getting bored? Unable to resist the singular temptation of a nap? Feeling restless in general? Change your location! If you're working at your desk in your room, move to the dining table (assuming it's clear; we don't want you to ruin your machine just because you were following this advice!) or simply shift to a different place in your room. From the desk to a comfortable chair, say, or from your laptop to the home machine. Just be sure to have your latest resume and other documents readily available on a handy-dandy thumb drive!

Changing locations could help you refocus and just generally alleviates some of the restlessness that arises from being in the same location for extended periods of time. Finally, it gives you a chance to stretch your legs, and avoiding DVT is probably for the best in general.

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