This blog post is in response to Natalie’s 10 Day Freedom Plan Blog Challenge Day 7 which is about beating procrastination and overwhelm by taking action.
Career goals – job search, advancement, career change – are enormous and amorphous, so particularly powerful lead-ins to procrastination and overwhelm. In the blog challenge prompt, Natalie recommends focusing on taking a small step, even if it’s an imperfect action to move past your stuck point. I agree with one caveat: taking action, even a small, imperfect one is an excellent way to get moving, but you want to make sure that whatever you select won’t have bigger implications on the rest of your career progress.
Small actions to take include:
Contacting one or two people, just to say Hello, so you can start flexing your networking muscles. Networking is more involved than this, but it doesn’t have to be to start
Looking up one or two company websites, which starts your research process. Your research will take you beyond the website when you identify your target companies but it doesn’t have to be so complicated when you start
Updating one section of your resume or LinkedIn profile, so your marketing stays fresh. Your marketing will eventually encompass the full resume, online profile, cover letters, networking pitch and more but picking one part of any one of these is enough to start
Actions to avoid because they could have bigger implications before you’re ready:
Contacting a savvy, well-connected colleague who you lost touch with so you can “pick his brain” on your next step. You want to save deeper conversations for when you’re ready to position yourself well and ask specifically for what you want. You don’t want to come across as unsure to people in a position to help you
Applying to every opening with a possible fit at your dream companies, just to get the ball rolling. Once you apply, that’s the resume the company has for you. That’s the first impression that you make. You want to apply for jobs when you’re ready to position yourself specifically for that job. You really don’t get a second chance to make a first impression
Updating your online profile and resume all at once and assuming it’s done. I’m not saying you take weeks or months to complete this part (you do need to have these branding tools ready and accessible to your market) but you want to build in time throughout your search to revisit your branding periodically and refine based on what you’re finding in your market
For my career and business, I keep a running list of items that need to happen – both single actions and longer-term, more involved projects. For the longer-term projects, I’ll also break them down until I get single-action clarity about what should happen next. In the same list (which I keep in Excel) I include items relating to other areas of my life (e.g., self-care, household, personal finance) and I’ll mix and match what I work on throughout the day so I don’t get overwhelmed or overfocused on any one area.