When in Doubt, Do Something!

When in Doubt, Do Something!

Job search got you down? What were you doing five minutes prior to reading this? What will you be doing five minutes after leaving your comment at the bottom? Do you have a thoughtful plan of action? When in doubt, engage in a concrete activity related to your sequence of job search steps. Conduct research on communities, companies, positions, and salaries using social media job search methods; survey job vacancy announcements; write resumes and cover letters; contact three employers each day.

Now, developing a plan of action and actually maximizing its potential is much easier said than done. If done properly, your job search will become an extremely time consuming activity. Sometimes it competes with other personal and professional priorities. This is why you need to make some initial decisions as to how and when you will perform job search activities.

Time Management

Ask yourself, “How valuable is my time in relation to finding a job or changing my career?” The amount of time you can devote to your job search will depend on your personal situation. I understand that until you actually separate, you are employed by the U.S. Government and have a job to do. However, I doubt you work 24 hours a day. Concentrate on your job search sooner rather than later and make maximum use of your available time. The advantage of seeking a new job while still employed affords you benefits such as health coverage and a more attractive appearance to prospective employers.

Try making a “to do” list for each day. These can be very effective, especially if they are created the night before. Develop a pattern for a guideline and start each day ready to take action. Making your list the night before gives you less opportunity for procrastination. Prioritize which activities are most important, include a particular goal at the top to complete each day. You will find it much easier to accomplish more in less time, and with better results.

Plan…To Take Action!

Planning makes sense; it focuses attention and directs action toward specific goals. It requires you to set goals and develop strategies to achieve them, but avoid excessive planning, it should not be all consuming. Too much planning can blind you to unforeseen opportunities. Sometimes you get lucky, the more you get yourself out there, the more likely it is to happen. Luck, although not to be relied on, can play an important role in the job search. I want you to do just enough planning so you will be in a position to take advantage of unexpected occurrences and opportunities that arise from the execution of your planned activities. Be flexible enough to capitalize on new opportunities and the luck that just might come your way.

Develop a Timeline

Just like any military operation, it is important to establish a time line and be disciplined in the execution of activities. Your mission is to obtain employment. When do you need to start? Which activities can be done concurrently? Prioritize and place activities on a time line, execute and follow-up. A solid but flexible search plan is critical to a successful employment campaign. Depending on your situation, you may want to incorporate a specific sequence of job search activities. This sequence of course, should be consistent with the seven job search steps.

Your time line should incorporate activities over a six month period. The first four steps should be accomplished in the initial month, and the final three steps continue in the subsequent months. If you plan, prepare and persist the pay-off will be job interviews and offers.

Job hunting requires time and hard work-perhaps the hardest work you will ever do-but if done properly, it pays off with a job that is right for you.

This post was written by
Former Combat Infantryman (OEF, OIF2) turned business and finance professional. Advocate for fellow veterans in the struggle to find careers when they leave the service. Someone once asked me how I did it so easily. "Easily?" Going from gunshots and explosions to school and business was most certainly not "easy." That was when I was encouraged to tell my story and why, since then, I have made my mission to not only help those in the same struggle succeed, but raise awareness and gather support.

4 Comments on "When in Doubt, Do Something!"

  • Greg says

    Great post Drew. I think right from the get-go you laid out what many people do not thing about and that is – every minute counts. What are you doing with your time is a huge indicator of how successful you are going to be. You need to go out and make something happen and this post lays it out for those looking to transition back into civilian life. There is no sergeant or commander giving us our next assignment in real life, we need to find it ourselves and go after it with all we have!

  • Drew, your site is looking awesome! It’s absolutely necessary in this economy to go out and make things happen for yourself. The people who are sitting around waiting for things to happen to them are the ones that will be unemployed the longest.

    Veterans have a lot to offer, but like everyone else they need to learn to showcase their skills the right way! Keep up the great work Drew.

  • Carmen says

    Good solid advice. You’re right that too much planning can sometimes backfire. Especially when a person might have a lot of anxiety about what they need to do, sometimes they can over-plan as a way to avoid action. Striking the right balance is key.

  • Drew says

    Greg and Matt –
    Definitely the case, thanks for the support! Soldiers aren’t instructed by their leaders on how the civilian world is changing as we speak. The way technology and social interaction is changing has upped the ante for anyone trying to make it in the private sector. Veterans need to know how to find what they are looking for, and need to use the discipline they already have to go out and get it.

    Carmen –
    You got it. Balance. A big part of effective time management and a key to preventing burn-out or its exact opposite, a whole lot of nothing.


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