by Brenda L. Peterson, The Layoff Lady
A Harsh Truth About Job Searching
Job searching is hard. One of the things that makes it particularly challenging is that you can't actually control when you will get a new job. The whole process takes as long as it takes. To make all of that waiting bearable, it's helpful to focus on the aspects of your job search you can control.
My "day job" is working in the field of learning and development. One of my goals is to make sure that the performance support initiatives I'm designing (a class, a handout, a video) actually help solve a problem in a way that can be quantified. There are two kinds of indicators to help measure success: leading indicators and lagging indicators.
Lagging indicators are what we all typically want to focus on. If I'm delivering a training session for salespeople on how they can sell a given product, the lagging indicator after training would be that they sold more of the product than they did before training and that more people spent more money on that given product--ideally being able to state who did what using dollar amount or percentage of improvement. One trick is that I can’t control how salespeople use the information presented in training or that individuals want or need to purchase the product. They are also lagging indicators because those results take a bit to show up. However, this is what success is supposed to look like.
Leading indicators are where it's more helpful to focus. These are the easily measurable, countable, check-off-able items that are predominantly within your control. For this example, my leading indicators of success would be that we held a training session, having a list of who attended the training session, how they performed on an assessment based on the content covered, and that they received a job aid that contained talking points on the content covered. I can control all of these things. Of course, these leading indicators don't necessarily guarantee I'll achieve my lagging indicators. Still, they show that I'm going in the right direction and help position those salespeople to achieve the sales numbers we hope to see.
Job Search: Lagging Indicators
Within the context of my job search, here are the tangible markers of success that I want to see:
All of these are lagging indicators. They are awesome because when they happen, they are definitive, and you know you have made legitimate progress toward getting a job. The trick is that many of these things happening at all--and what the timing might look like--is out of your control.
Ways to Achieve the Bigger Goal
While I can't directly make those lagging indicators happen, I can focus on strategies to position myself for more success in those areas, including the following:
Job Search: Leading Indicators.
Now, to turn those squishier ideas into leading indicators (which are specific, countable, check-off-able things I can put on a to-do list), here are items I can actually do in a given week:
Having this list of tangible actions to take keeps me on track to achieve my goal of starting a new job.
Keep On Doing The Right Things
Some weeks, you do a lot of waiting, which makes you feel like you are terrible at everything and will never work again. Other weeks, people seem to be falling all over themselves to talk with you about yet another amazing job opportunity. During those weeks, you feel like this is all easy and you can do no wrong.
During those slow weeks, it's helpful to remember to keep on doing those right things. Fine-tune as needed and know that your best strategy is to keep on keeping on. Put in the work, then trust the process.
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7-time layoff survivor Brenda L. Peterson, The Layoff Lady, waxes poetic on layoffs, job transitions, & career resilience.