10 Tips to Help Veterans Stay Focused In Their Job Search

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(U.S. Army/Traci Boutwell)

I get it. It’s summer, warm weather is here and you’re tired of being cooped up at home. As we all look to reengage after the pandemic locked us away for more than a year, perhaps the last thing you’re thinking about is how to find a job and go back into an office.

But while summer can be a wonderful time for relaxation and recharging, it also can be an ideal time to find your next career post. Here are some of my favorite tips for keeping focused on your job search, particularly during the summer:

1. Create a Game Plan. Outline a strategy for your job search. Start with a list of target employers, then ensure your materials are up to par and relevant to the types of jobs you’ll be applying to. Next, make sure you have a good home office set up for the job search, including a computer, headset for your phone, video equipment in case you do virtual interviews, etc. Put as much detail into your strategy as possible.

2. Make a Daily and Weekly Schedule. Create a list of things to accomplish each week to ensure you’re making progress toward finding that ideal next job. Then break those goals down into daily tasks and activities. You might include things such as updating your LinkedIn profile, touching base with people you interviewed with, reaching out and reconnecting with your network, refining your resume and so on.

3. Build in Time to Relax. If all your free time is spent focused on securing interviews, sending resumes and following up on job applications, you may resent your job search and could stop forward motion altogether. Build in time to relax and enjoy this time that you have before your next job reveals itself. Create items in your calendar that ensure you will take time for yourself and can give you something to look forward to as you push through the job search.

4. Enlist the Help of Others. Lean on the support and guidance of mentors, friends and allies to keep you focused and positive during your job search. It’s tempting to get tired and even depressed if you’re met with a lot of rejection. Let your support network help you.

5. Focus More on Networking. Your network is comprised of those professional contacts who you may know from your time in the military, or out. These individuals will endorse you, refer you and provide you with additional insight and information to assist you in the job search and in growing your career. Make sure you focus daily activities toward enhancing your networking skills and seeking ways to provide value to them as you ask for help.

6. Check in with Yourself. Self-care is critical in any career, but particularly when you’re in a job search. Make sure you do things daily that lift your spirits and make you smile. If you need help, reach out and get help.

7. Inventory Your Progress Toward Your Goals. Every day, list out what you did that day and whether it’s moving you closer to your goals. This will ensure that you make forward progress as you work through your game plan and will give you something to reflect on when you find that next job and begin your next career.

8. Cut Yourself Some Slack. If you find yourself less than productive one day, focus more intently the next. Each new day is an opportunity to reset and go again.

9. Set Tomorrow’s Plan and Agenda. Before you close the computer for the day, set the goals and plan your next day’s objectives. Include any follow-up from previous conversations, or things you didn’t get to the day before. This will ensure nothing slips through the cracks.

10. Periodically Assess What’s Working and What Isn’t. By seeing where you are getting more interest on your resume and what’s leading to more interviews, you can identify the patterns that are worth repeating. When you can see what’s not working, you can pivot away from those strategies and not waste any more time.

The job search is a process. It may move swiftly or may move more slowly than you’d like. Staying focused and positive is key to finding an ideal next career move.

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