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How to prevent attention span deficit from sabotaging your executive job search

How to prevent attention span deficit from sabotaging your executive job search

For years, we’ve been shackled to various forms of fixed electronic or mobile devices. And as the years roll on, the platforms are moving away from fixed positions in our homes to be at our sides almost all of the time. So more mobile devices means we’ve become more and more available (whether ‘at work’ or not). What does this phenomenon mean for the executive job search?

Our attention spans and ability to focus are reducing, due to the constant ‘pings’ and ‘bleeps’, and other electronic distractions that intend, and often succeed in pulling us back to said devices. Look at the emergence of increasingly shorter bite size videos and learning resources. Now we have the new distraction of wrist worn devices… there are so many distractions, and for better or worse it’s here to stay.

Our 60 second podcasts are another example of catering to the time poor executive, and no doubt the trend to produce content across all formats will be a reduction in duration, and to be more focussed in the content.

So if you’re in a role trying to squeeze time to job search, or currently not in a role, how do you allocate and keep that focussed time? Because without doing so, you will tend to default to the advertised roles, whereas we know that the very best roles are in the unadvertised jobs market. Here are some ideas to help you focus that job search time (which incidentally I am acting on as I write this article):

Shut down browsing distractions

Close any other browsing tabs apart from those that directly relate to your job search. How easy is it to be in the middle of doing some networking on LinkedIn or perhaps only to find yourself on a hobby or other interest page? For the focussed 30 minutes that I suggest you spend for this exercise I also suggest closing your email client, and setting a timer on your smartphone for 30 minutes or an hour.

Set goals

The above advice is only useful if you then translate this into a target for activity. Let’s say for a moment you’re looking at a LinkedIn group; what will you do there? Click on a few things? Like a few things? Much better to search through the members for useful contacts and reach out to them with your pre-prepared (but personalise it!) introductory email or connect request. Ensure the goal that you set yourself is realistic for you, but that after the focussed time, you have achieved some fresh outgoing communications.

Focus on networking, not advertised roles

What I am suggesting around all of this activity is to ignore the temptation to start browsing for advertised jobs. It will require some discipline, as it is still very much human nature to default back to looking at jobs boards and LinkedIn for jobs. Be different. Why focus on the same roles that everyone else is chasing after (whether they are real or otherwise)? The main reason is that it’s easy to see advertised roles as more tangible, but time and time again during the many conversations we have with recruiters and headhunters, and from the enquiries we receive from recruiters, it’s evident that the best jobs simply never reach the open market.

This subject on its own, is probably the biggest change management piece for any of our clients to get their heads around, but once embraced, you’ll wonder why you job searched in any other way.

Record your progress

An absolute must. A simple spread sheet with name, phone number, email, and date/content of the most recent discussion you’ve had is a minimum here. Once you start to reach out to more and more people your contacts will build fast, so whether you opt for a simple CRM system (plenty of free ones out here) or a spread sheet, or folders within Outlook or similar, start this tracking process as soon as you begin to ramp up your activity levels.

Rinse, Repeat

This focussed activity shouldn’t be a one-off, which I hope would be relatively clear. Set aside a regular slot to apply yourself to this, block it out in your diary (if currently in a role) and stick to it. If you’re not in a role currently yes you’ll have more time, but I’m not advocating you spend all day on this. A couple of focussed hours would work best.

I don’t know how soon you’ll start to implement some of these strategies but I do know they’ll support your job search going forward.

Want further advice?

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