Jan 28 2015
Every January, millions of us resolve to go on a diet. But by the time February rolls around, we are back to our old habits, reducing the likelihood of making a positive change in our lives. That's because losing weight and keeping it off requires a sustained strategy that includes eating healthier foods, reducing total caloric intake and increasing your exercise routine. Like many lifestyle changes, it's a matter of self-discipline, and being able to delay personal gratification for the sake of achieving long-term goals.
That's an important mindset for senior executives who are thinking about a career change. After all, it takes careful planning and plenty of willpower to succeed in finding a new position. Here are some lessons from people who have been successful in improving their lifestyles that can also be applied to a high-level career search.
1. Plan to run a marathon rather than a sprint. Launching an urgent email, telephone or social media campaign is unlikely to deliver results in just a week or two. Instead, you should map out a career change campaign that may well last six months or longer. Remember that one of most common mistakes people make when signing up for a new gym membership is to overdo their first workouts, resulting in strained or injured muscles and a tendency to tire of the process. Don't make the same mistake with your executive job search campaign.
2. Exercise daily. Because a career search is a long-term process, you should make it a priority by setting aside time every day for your campaign. If you are in a career transition, treat your job search like a full-time job. If you’re employed, try to devote at least an hour every morning or evening, a half-hour at lunchtime and half a day on weekends. Spend this time researching potential employers, reaching out to your contacts, preparing cover letters, updating your resume and practicing interview skills. The important thing is to do something every day to advance your search.
3. Count calories. Just as dieters use their apps or journals to track the calories they consume each day, a job campaign is more likely to succeed if you keep a record or your activities and progress. Whether your list is electronic or good-old pen and paper, list your target organizations, the names of your contacts, the dates of your emails, texts, calls and letters, the responses you receive and the next steps for each opportunity. This will help you to quickly reference all your prior communications in preparation for a call with a potential employer, whether scheduled or unexpected. It will also help you to keep track of your progress and make adjustments to your weekly plan.
4. Vary your routine. If no one is responding to your outreach, pick up the phone and make a few calls. If your emails vanish without a trace, try rewriting them with a "hook" that invites a recruiter to get in touch with you. Consider updating your LinkedIn profile, highlighting the skills and experiences you would bring to a new position. Practice your elevator speech or role-play an interview with a friend or family member. Don’t stick with the same routine every day, especially if you aren’t getting results.
5. Use a personal trainer. Millions of people rely on a personal trainer to help them stay on track toward a fitter and healthier lifestyle. Follow their example, and consider engaging a career coach who can provide motivational assistance, seasoned advice and specific recommendations for your search and your long-term career goals. A more senior-level executive coach will also introduce you to the right people and help you identify your target companies.
If your New Year’s resolution is to obtain a more satisfying career position in 2015, applying these strategies used by successful dieters to your executive job search can improve your likelihood of success.