Career Development

How to Overcome Job Search Procrastination

Learning to overcome procrastination can give you an edge as you use the time that you would have spent procrastinating to productively search for job opportunities. Mastering the ability to overcome procrastination can even be beneficial long after your job search is over, making you more productive as you are facing challenging tasks in your new role. This article explains how to avoid being impacted by procrastination during your job search and how to identify and apply strategies for overcoming procrastination to help you find a great job and get hired.

What is job search procrastination?

Job search procrastination is a habit where you postpone search-related activities to another day. You may allow yourself to become sidetracked by diversions or look for other reasons to justify the delay. 

Related: Tailoring Your Resume for the Job You’re Applying For

Tips for overcoming procrastination in your job search

Here are some great strategies you may want to use to overcome procrastination when you are searching for a job:

Make your bed

While making your bed in the morning doesn’t have anything to do with your job search directly, it does impact your mindset for the day. By making your bed when you get out of it, you’ll have completed your first task for the day and will be off to a productive start. 

Treat your job search as a job

Because being at home can cause distractions, treat your job search like a job. Get dressed and prepared as if you are going to work. Set up a work station either at your desk or the kitchen table and spend focused blocks of time working. If being at home is still too much of a distraction, you may want to go to a local library or coffee shop to continue your search. 

Break job search activities into stages

As you’re planning your job search, break the different job search activities into stages.

Example of stages of activity:

  • Research. In this stage, you will research available positions as well as the companies.
  • Identify. Identify the positions you’re most interested in and whether you have the qualifications required for the role.
  • Prepare. Tailor your cover letter and resume to emphasize the key skills and experiences listed in the job description, displaying your ability to perform those tasks.
  • Edit. Edit your resume, cover letter and other application materials to find any mistakes and grammatical errors.
  • Submit. Submit your cover letter and resume for consideration.

By breaking the different activities into stages, you can more easily determine which activities need to be done each day, prioritizing them and setting deadlines for when they need to be completed. You can also enjoy the satisfaction of checking off tasks as they’re completed.

Create and follow a schedule

Create a detailed daily schedule for your job search activities. If you’re searching for jobs while working full-time, this may be an hour of time every evening that you set aside for specific activities. If you’re currently unemployed, plan your full day and the activities you will accomplish. For example, you could choose to spend the time between nine and ten identifying the open positions that you’re most qualified in, the time from ten and noon researching the positions and companies, leave an hour break at noon and then spend your afternoon customizing your resume and cover letter and applying for jobs.

Commit to a productive direction

Make a pledge to yourself that you will continually move in a positive, productive direction with your job search. The best way to move in a productive direction is to make a plan and begin working on it as soon as possible. Commit to working on it for a minimum of five minutes, after which you can choose to commit to another five minutes or move on to something else. Committing to only five-minute increments can help you overcome inertia and continually remain productive in your search.

Related: Character Traits Employers Want to See at Work

Be prepared with the right tools

Part of a job search means being prepared with the tools you need to effectively find a job. This means having access to a computer and an internet connection. When you have an interview, it means having appropriate attire and having physical copies of your resume and other documents. 

Reward yourself

To motivate yourself during your job search, reward yourself after completing boring tasks or after submitting applications for jobs. Your reward could be something as small as taking a break or could be allowing yourself to do something else you enjoy. 

Find an accountability partner

Find someone who can help hold you accountable during your search. This could even be someone who is also searching for a new position themselves. If this is the case, plan to follow a similar schedule for searching so that you can share the progress you’re having throughout your search. Consider meeting for a cup of coffee or a brief conversation at periodic intervals to keep you motivated. 

Set aside break time

Be intentional about taking time for breaks every 90 minutes. Use the break time for energizing activities such as going for a walk or getting another form of exercise. Meditation is another activity that can put you in the right mindset for your job search.

Refuse to accept procrastination thinking

Recognize and refuse to accept procrastination thinking. For example, you may tell yourself that you will begin your job search after you’ve read more information about how to write a great cover letter or a more effective resume. You may also feel defeated by focusing on a competitive job market, wondering why you should even try. However, this mindset is a form of procrastination. By recognizing this, you can start to shift to a do-it-now thinking that encourages you to do reasonable things in a reasonable timeframe. 

Become a realistic optimist

Being a fearless job hunter requires you to take the path of a realistic optimist. Have a daily plan that keeps you focused on your priorities. Be optimistic, but also manage your expectations by concentrating on the activities that will have the biggest impact on your job search. For example, if you know that you’re a strong networker and that your time spent networking has the greatest impact on your ability to find a job, spend less time on low-yield activities like reading job postings and more time on connecting with and meeting people at the companies you want to work at. You could even optimize on your time by first finding openings that you’re qualified for and then connecting with employees there.

Build foresight

Procrastination is often the result of wanting to avoid what is complex and uncertain and settle for what is easy. By focusing on a long-term view and overcoming the short-term gain of the moment, you can motivate yourself to take the essential steps you need to find a job you love.