You’ve decided you want to change companies. But, that’s about as far as you’ve managed to get. Each time you sit down to actually dig through some open positions, quantify your bullet points, and tailor your resume, you just think, “Meh.”
Sure, you could do this today. But, there’s always tomorrow, right?
Spoiler alert: Tomorrow never comes, and you’re left wondering why you’re so ambivalent about your job search. Why can’t you ever manage to actually roll up your sleeves and get started?
You aren’t alone. There are plenty of reasons that people continue to push this off. Let’s take a look at some of the most common ones—as well as how to overcome them—so that you can get started on your hunt for a new gig today, rather than tomorrow.
1. You’re Not Sure What You Want
When it comes to what you’re looking for in a new job, you only have one piece of criteria: Something that’s different from what you’re doing currently.
That’s not much helpful information to operate with. And, feeling completely unclear on your goals will make the job search feel that much more endless and overwhelming.
You need to gain some clarity on what you’re searching for in your next position. Fortunately, there are tons of things you can do to narrow your options.
Start by playing a fun game of career MadLibs with these nine revealing questions. If you see some patterns? It’s time to do some research into that specific field—including setting up some coffee chats to learn from people in that industry.
Doing so will give you some much-needed direction, which will ultimately make you feel that much more excited.
2. You’re Not That Unhappy Where You Are
You’re not exactly thrilled with your current gig. But, you’re not that unhappy either. The work is decent, your pay and benefits are good, you like your co-workers, and you’re pretty comfortable.
Sure, you have a bit of an itch to try something new and get to the next rung of that proverbial ladder. But, the desire isn’t quite strong enough to really light a fire under you.
The first thing you need to do here is to determine whether or not you actually want a new job, or if you just feel like you should have one. I recommend making a standard pros and cons list (gotta love those, right?) to help you figure out your next move.
If you discover you’re actually pretty content and satisfied with your current situation? That’s great—there’s no job search to be ambivalent about!
But, if you uncover that you really would like a new role, it’s time to get yourself motivated. Take Muse columnist Julia Corbett’s advice and make yourself an actionable to-do list with smaller tasks that you can check off one-by-one.
3. You’re Scared
Change can be downright scary. Maybe your goals feel so lofty and out of reach that you’re terrified to put yourself out there. Or, perhaps the constant threat of rejection is enough to keep you frozen in your tracks.
You’re not wrong to be intimidated by your job search—pretty much everybody feels that way at one point or another. But, at the same time (forgive me for sounding like a cheesy commencement speech), you don’t want your fear to be the one thing that holds you back from doing big things.
As career coach Christie Mims says in her article on how to get over those feelings of intimidation in your job search, “Action is the enemy of fear.”
Take her advice and start by figuring out what exactly is scaring you. Is it fear of the unknown? Rejection? Failure? Change? Money worries? Are you scared your current employer will find out? Whatever your reason is, write it down.
Now, think of the smartest person you know and imagine the advice that he or she would give you. Write that down as well. Then, take a deep breath and read that encouraging guidance.
With that helpful confidence boost in the back of your mind, pick just one thing (yes, only one!) you can do to get started. Maybe it’s revamping your resume or polishing up your LinkedIn profile. Or, perhaps you want to search through listings or set up a networking meeting. Begin with that one thing, and you’ll be well on your way to squelching your fear and starting your search!
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4. You’re Unmotivated
There’s no sugarcoating it—looking for a new job is hard work. For most of us, identifying keywords and tailoring our resume probably isn’t our idea of the perfect way to spend a Saturday afternoon. Sure, you want a new gig. But, you don’t quite want it bad enough to have to make those sacrifices.
But, alas, you need to invest the time and the effort in order to be successful in your job hunt—no matter how groan-worthy it seems. Sorry, there’s no easy way out.
Many of the above tips—such as making an actionable to-do list—can help you in this scenario. However, whenever I’m feeling low on motivation, there’s one trick I find to be the most helpful.
Identify the core reason that you want to find a new job. Whether you hate your current role or are looking for a step up, a salary increase, or to relocate somewhere new, zone in on the one thing that’s fueling your search.
Write that down and keep it somewhere prominent—stick it to your computer monitor if you have to! Then, in those moments when you’re thinking of pushing your search off yet again, take a look at that reason and internalize it.
Much like dieting, job searching becomes that much easier if you can keep your eyes focused on the end game—and not so much on the day-to-day drudgery.
The hunt for a new job can be this weird combination of exciting, intimidating, and incredibly daunting. And, that emotional rollercoaster ride can sometimes be enough to make us feel totally ambivalent. We could start today, but we could also start tomorrow—or the next day.
Like anything else, getting started is half the battle. So, if you identify with any of these reasons, take that advice to heart and just get moving. You’re bound to feel that much more motivated once you manage to put one foot in front of the other.
Photo of person on tablet courtesy of Hoxton/Tom Merton/Getty Images.
Kat is a Midwest-based freelance writer, covering topics related to careers, productivity, and the freelance life. In addition to The Muse, she's a contributor all over the web and dishes out research-backed advice for places like Atlassian, Trello, Toggl, Wrike, The Everygirl, FlexJobs, and more. She's also an Employment Advisor at a local college, and loves helping students prepare to thrive in careers (and lives!) they love. When she manages to escape from behind her computer screen, she's usually babying her two rescue mutts or continuing her search for the perfect taco. Say hi on Twitter @kat_boogaard or check out her website.More from this Author