How not to lose your New Year's job search mojo

Published January 25 2017

For many, January is a month dedicated to launching personal initiatives. Amid resolving to renew your gym pass and reconnect with friends, finding a great job is no doubt high on your list. But as you know, job search stress is real, and that steady resolve you had on Jan. 1 can get worn down over time.

But it doesn't have to.

Read on for some job-search tips from experts to help your momentum stay strong.

Set specific job-search goals . . .

It's not enough to declare, "This year, I'm getting a new job." That's like saying, "This year, I'm going on vacation." Great! Where? When? How are you getting there? What do you want to do when you get there? Getting a job is no different. You need direction.

"Be sure to create very specific goals in order to give yourself the chance to achieve them," says Heather Monahan, career expert and chief revenue officer for Miami's Beasley Media Group.

. . . and conquer them methodically

It's easier to keep forging ahead when you enjoy small victories along the way, so after you've narrowed your focus, it's time to break down your job search into manageable tasks.

"For example, each week, commit to apply for at least five jobs, send 10 networking emails and research two new companies," says Susan Vitale, chief marketing officer at the talent acquisition company iCIMS in Hoboken, N.J. "These mini resolutions will help maintain job-search momentum long after the initial New Year's enthusiasm wanes."

Track your results

Applying to multiple positions at multiple companies? It's easy to get mixed up and waste time wondering what your last move was before throwing your hands in the air in exasperation. Don't let yourself get to that point.

"I like the method of organizing your search with an Excel spreadsheet, either in Google Drive or on a desktop," says Christy Hopkins, an HR consultant and writer at Fit Small Business in New York City.

"In this spreadsheet, track the companies you've applied to, the title of the position and the date you applied, as well as if you have heard back and that date," she says. "Also include any contact information so you can easily follow up on your application status."

To stave off stagnation, Hopkins suggests creating another page on your spreadsheet and making a list of 50 to 100 companies you'd love to work for. Bit by bit, search for any open positions that are suited to you.

"If there isn't anything open, check back in 15- to 30-day intervals, and track that as well," she says. If you apply to any jobs, add the tracking information to your primary list.

Not only will this keep you organized, it can also help you fine-tune your search. You'll get a clear picture of which job titles earn you the most callbacks, and which companies are more responsive than others.

Get a support group

Teamwork makes the job-search work. A little help and support can go a long way in finding the perfect position.

"Make a group, online or in person, with friends who are job hunting," says Jennifer Yeko, founder and recruiter at Ninja Recruiting in Los Angeles. "Meet at least once or twice a month to check in and make sure everyone is sticking to their goals."

The other benefit of forming a group is that a friend may come across a job opening that they're not interested in, but you are (and vice versa).

High-five yourself

Rewarding yourself along the way can also keep momentum going. Whether you decide to buy a pair of shoes or get a massage, remember that it's a reward for your hard work. No hard work, no reward.

"Say to yourself, 'During the next two weeks, I'm going to apply to every job that looks interesting from the job alerts I receive, and I'm going to reach out to five contacts. A week from Friday, I'll treat myself,' " says Vicki Salemi, career expert at Monster. "It's important to set up a rewards system since so much of the job-search process is intangible until you get a job offer. Celebrate milestones — in this case, sticking the course is a milestone."

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