Evaluating Your Job Search Progress
The search for a new job is seldom a straight shot; it's generally a process with plenty of twists and turns along the way. These diversions can feel like they impede progress. But every move we make, in some way, informs our search. Every article we read, every resume we send, every interview in which we engage, helps us learn something valuable about our next professional chapter.
These efforts teach us about where we are, what we want, and where we're going. We establish new contacts and discover institutions and roles that weren't on our radar screens. Job seeking requires an experimental resilient mindset plus a strong sense of self. This is a journey of self-discovery.
Yes, progress means finding a job. But it also means learning about ourselves and stretching our assumptions about what we need to thrive. Here's what to consider as you evaluate your job search progress.
Clarify What You're Targeting
We don't always know what we're after when we kick off a job search. It can be especially difficult to identify what will truly serve us if we're leaving a job that has become ill-fitting. Our inclination may be to simply find a new arrangement that's unlike the job we're trying to leave. But that short term fix isn't a good basis for professional reinvention.
If you're going to disrupt your life, do the honest internal work to make that disruption worth it. Explore: What did you learn about yourself and your work from your last role? What did you like about your job? What didn't work for you? What factors in a new job might position you to have a different experience?
Revisit your job description. Think about what you expected. Did that match the reality of the work you did every day? Reread performance appraisals and feedback from your management team. Think about the culture of your workplace -- was it flexible in the ways you needed it to be? Were you comfortable there? Did you grow and advance there?
Christopher K. Lee, who teaches at the University of San Diego, and is also founder and career consultant with PurposeRedeemed.com, explains that noting what we've learned about ourselves can help us evaluate our job search process. "Through interviewing, you learn about the companies, but you also reflect on your own priorities - what you want or don't want. It's important to know what not to pursue, so you can redirect your energy elsewhere. As taxing as the job search may be, it may be worse to be stuck in a job you hate. In those cases, you may be back on the hunt again."
When you shop for a house that you plan to live in for at least the next decade, you make sure that it's logically fitting in various key ways. A job needs to be a logistical fit too, if you want to live there for the long term. Logistics are not an aside. These are core features when it comes to a job that you plan to live in everyday for the next several years.
Consider your salary, commute, and benefits. What did your past role teach you about what you need? You may have discovered that you need to work at an institution that has a remote option or that's close to your home. You may have to sacrifice other qualities to earn that, but maybe it's a key feature at this point in your life.
Knowing what you need is key to finding job fit. It also means that your search is progressing in a positive direction.
Celebrate Your Wins
The job search process has its own unique rhythm. You'll have days where you get three emails about your resume followed by a week or two with not much action. It's a process. It goes this way.
Build downtime into your expectations. Use it to fortify your work. Don't allow it to demotivate you. Use it to reach out to contacts in your network. See a counselor, talk to a former colleague, manager, or mentor. Get feedback on your candidacy materials by those in your network who have the expertise to weigh in. Use those lulls strategically; don't take them personally.
Lee points out that getting further in the process is a meaningful measure of progress: "Perhaps you didn't get invited to any interviews at first. But after polishing up your resume or targeting a different position, you are now interviewing at multiple companies. To me, that's noteworthy. Likewise, if early on you were rejected after the first round, but now you're making it to later interviews, that's progress as well, and it's worth celebrating."
Recognize your wins. It often takes many small wins to yield the big win you're seeking. The wait is worth it to find a role that truly suits you. Keep hunting. Keep making progress. You've got this.