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This week, fifth in a six-part series, business coach Kate Kerr (nee Hanley) explains the importance of persistence in the job search or job upgrade process.

We’ve talked about networking and goal-setting, and today you want to talk about persistence?

Yes, it’s actually one of the most crucial factors for success not only in the job search, but also in every area of your life. In my experience, the number one reason why people fail is that they give up – for a variety of reasons. They get unmotivated or come up with excuses about why they can’t get past their roadblocks. They allow their obstacle to become bigger than their vision or their goal.

Ok, give me an example of how this might show up in the job search process.

I would say especially today, it’s almost information overload when looking for a job. If someone is doing their job search right, they’re going to networking events, connecting with friends and neighbors about job leads, using LinkedIn to research potential connections, and applying online for positions. Let’s say they do these things consistently for three weeks, and then they get fatigued, discouraged, and lose steam or momentum. From there, they scale back and do just one of these activities regularly or maybe give up altogether because they haven’t yet received a response. I’ve seen this over and over with my clients.

And what do you say to keep your clients moving forward?

The answer is consistent persistence. And one way we accomplish this is through the calendar. In my experience with an employment search, it takes, on average, three to six months to secure a job. If you’re applying for one job a week, it’s going to take longer. My point is that if you know it’s going to take you six months to get a job, you don’t want to burn through all your energy and enthusiasm in the first few weeks.

So what you do is work backward.

If my client says her goal is to have a new job by January 1, 2014, basically we would identify the job she wants and then put together an easy-to-manage calendar outlining the tasks and activities she needs to do to secure that position. For instance, we might schedule two networking events every week, coffee with contacts that may be able to help with networking three times a week, at least one industry-specific conference or seminar per month, and set a goal of sending at least five résumés a week directly to contacts. The point here is if you have metrics in your calendar, it makes your life more manageable, and is another safety net against failure.

This is in contrast to someone who is ramping up their job search and does too much in a short period of time and burns out quickly. It’s true that searching for a job is a full time job, but you want to take a consistent and sustainable approach to any type of employment search. It’s important to understand that slow and steady wins the race.

How do your clients remain motivated after three months of this?

I encourage them to go back and look at their goals. Two of the first tasks I give my clients is to list their goals and create a vision board based on how they want their lives to be. I ask them to have these goals and images out at all times in their workspaces, and during trying times when they slow down or get discouraged, I suggest that they spend a little extra time focusing on what their life will be like once they secure that dream job.

This reinforcement of the vision pulls them through and keeps them motivated. I always like the dieting analogy. For instance, when people plateau after weeks of diet and exercise, they get frustrated because the scale hasn’t moved in a week. Instead of going to get an ice cream, if they go to their vision board and see their dream body and their goals listed, it will motivate them to stick with it, and they’ll eventually push through the plateau and continue to lose the weight.

What would you advise people who have a problem with persistence?

Accountability is key. That’s where I come in. As a business coach, it’s my job to help my clients stay on track with their goals. But you can also use a friend or family member as an accountability partner, checking in with them once or twice a week to ensure that you’re staying on track with your job search goals in this case. Provide that person with your goals, and tell them what’s in your calendar, and report back on how many of those metrics you hit each week. Meeting those goals and then sharing them with an accountability partner can provide a deep sense of gratification and satisfaction even before you land that dream job.

Kate can be reached to at [email protected].

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