Divide your job search into manageable segments

By Eve Nicholas Herald Columnist

Job hunters often face daunting tasks. Like writing an executive profile from scratch. Searching through years of newspaper archives for relevant business articles. Or picking up the phone and calling a potential employer out of the blue.

These activities require time, effort and a bit of courage. They demand that job seekers step outside of their “comfort zones” and perform actions that may feel intimidating or overwhelming. Unfortunately, many professionals get lost in the challenge. They stop in their tracks.

This deer-in-the-headlights moment is pivotal in any job search. No conversations are happening; no research is getting done. And yet, many job seekers need this brief period of inactivity to gather their wits for the next step in the process. The brave ones persevere. The fearful ones don’t.

Persistence is essential, particularly in a crowded job market. But before you plow through the fear and tackle a difficult job-search challenge, I suggest that you pause briefly. Appreciate this moment of stillness. Respect your trepidation. Use this time to prepare yourself physically (with a well-considered job-hunting plan), mentally (by practicing for interviews or conducting vital research) and emotionally (by not taking a big step forward until you’re absolutely ready). Then, dive in.

Here is a strategy that helps many job hunters confront large, menacing projects:

Break down daunting or intimidating tasks into “bite-sized pieces.”

Create a step-by-step plan for the entire project.

Tackle the easiest steps first.

Reward yourself along the way.

Take a long, relaxing respite when you’re finished.

Let’s say that you are applying for a job with the federal government. The agency wants your resume to include every job since you graduated from college 30 years ago with painstaking details such as your supervisor’s name and phone number, pay rate and numbers of hours worked in each position. Of course, you’ll also have to write compelling job descriptions and a few impressive accomplishments for every role.

These types of documents can be three to 10 pages long. But don’t panic. Take a moment to prepare in advance, and then follow the above mentioned strategy. Like this:

Dig through your memory and write down a list of employers, job titles and approximate dates at each company. Include as much information as you can remember.

Review the list and place jobs in chronological order.

Take a break. Walk around the block.

Determine what facts are missing from your new document. Use old resumes, personal files and the Internet to gather more facts about past employers.

Call companies for additional details. As a last resort, write “Company No Longer in Business” or “Information No Longer Available” on the resume for early-career positions.

Realize that the next part of the project requires a clear mind and significant amount of energy. Rest up.

When you’re ready, pick up the project again and write striking job descriptions and achievements for each position. Don’t forget to divide this portion of the project into small pieces and reward yourself throughout the process. When you’re done, shift your focus away from job searching for a while. See a movie. Climb a tree. Spend time with people who will energize and congratulate you for a job well done.

Contact Nicholas at Eve.GetAJob@gmail.com.