Is it time for a mental sift? (yes, SIFT)

A job search takes time. And you may reach a point where you have so many data points and to do’s (such as getting an interview; preparing for an interview; wondering should you call that company again or wait to hear from them like they told you to do) floating around in your mind that you are not sure which way to turn. If these statements ring true, it’s time to sort out the job search clutter in your mind and gain some clarity on your situation. Before you reach out to connect to others, reach inside and connect with yourself by reviewing the following mind clarity questions:

  1. Are you owning your search? People will help—they will offer feedback, advice, information, possibly a referral—but accept the fact that “it’s up you” to make it happen.
  2. How do you define yourself—By title or by achievements? Job titles are labels. Instead, define yourself by your professional and personal history. Let people know you and how you “add value” to an organizational need.
  3. What story do you tell? Write out or outline your career history, being sure to include your best professional experiences and outside general interests. In addition to all your major achievements, be sure and include what you are most proud of. Your story is YOU! Be comfortable with your work-life story. If you have trouble writing, take a walk and start talking to yourself about the questions I have suggested. The point is to build confidence that you have many things to talk about and to contribute to the world.
  4. What picture of you is out there? Your resume, biography, elevator drill, even your LinkedIn profile are all messages you are giving about what you see as your skills, interests, abilities, achievements.
  5. Can you answer all the hard questions? “Why do people like to work with or for you?” “What are the challenges people find in working with or for you?” (yes, there are challenges!) These questions will be asked; it’s how you respond that will make the difference, so reframe any negative thinking. Self-awareness is key to a successful job search.
  6. What do you really want out of a job? Be clear on your professional and personal goals. For example: What responsibilities and role do you want to play in helping a company achieve its goals? What is the best work environment for your set of skills? What geographic, financial, family, and professional development considerations do you have?

After you have reached in and answered these questions, reach out to a few core members of your network. Your network understands what you are going through—many, if not most have been there! Your network can help you sift through all the mental angst and insecurities that drain your strength, take your attention off the requirements of a job search, and keep you from conducting your search. Your network can get you moving in a proactive and positive way. Reach out to them; they want to help.

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