The old sales adage can be applied to career transition as well—activity equals results. Yet, this is where so many people fail. They don’t buy into this equation, limit their activity, and consequently limit their results. By focusing on those activities that you can control and ramping up the frequency of those activities, you are creating more opportunities to accomplish your goals.
Set reasonable expectations.
The right activities will be different for each person. You have to develop activities that lead to the specific results you’re looking for. Keep in mind that you won’t get there right away. There is a learning curve. Additionally, remember that you won’t get there by yourself. You need to set up an accountability system to ensure you’re doing the volume of work necessary to meet your goals.
Determine what you can control.
When you are trying to establish a new habit or routine, you need to identify what you can control in that routine. For example, one activity could be making seven calls to people in your network in a day. But listing “getting seven call-backs in a day” is an ineffective activity that sets you up for defeat. You can’t control whether someone calls you back, but you can control how many calls you make. This mindset will help you hardwire the new habits into your brain.
Make a time commitment.
To develop a routine, you have to commit time. Work intentionally on your career transition activities for a certain number of hours. In the beginning, duration of an activity isn’t as important as frequency. You can only build a habit by being consistent over a period of time. Whatever activities you determine need to be put into place, focus most on those that you have control over.
I typically recommend 25 to 40 hours of activity per week. Anything less than 25 is not consistent enough; anything more than 40 hours will deliver diminishing marginal returns. Committing to no more than 40 hours forces you to be more efficient with your time. Additionally, too many hours spent on transition activities will put your life and priorities out of balance. If you let it, transition can be an invaluable opportunity to re-prioritize your life for the long-term health of yourself and your relationships. Don’t waste it.
Get on the phone.
To reach the next step in your career, you have to generate calls and reach out to people who can give you information, encouragement, or connections. Which people you start with will depend on what you are trying to achieve.
In the beginning, you want to create a master list of people to call. This should be a long list. Don’t prejudge, saying, “Oh, I won’t bother adding her. She can’t help me.” Set the activity at 35 to 50 calls per week. That’s a stretch goal, and you may have to work up to it, but it is accomplishable and controllable.
Remember that your goal should be to make a certain number of calls, not a certain number of connections. You can’t control the number of connections you make. You’ll only frustrate yourself if you make that the goal, and frustration is an emotion that burns up a lot of energy. If you’re not getting call-backs, make a change. You can change the frequency or your attitude. But here’s the thing: you have to let go of the other side of it to have the sustainable energy to reach the ultimate goal: finding a job.
Expand your network.
If you want to have a successful job search, you also need to build your network. You’re mainly looking for information and trying to learn from these people. Your contacts will multiply quickly if you commit to asking this one question: “I need to expand my network. Would you be willing to introduce me to three people who might be able to help me?”
People only say no to this request when they don’t know you well, or they’re worried you’re going to harass their friends and connections. So, it is essential to indicate how you network and that you’re worthy of their trust.
Get paper out.
Set the goal to get five pieces of paper (meaning resumes and cover letters) out per week. This can be to connections in your network, recruiting companies, but need to be for specific openings.
Sometimes, there will be limited opportunities out there and you won’t be able to meet your goal of five. In those situations, you might also consider sending a marketing letter. When writing a marketing letter, you first determine which companies would be a good fit for you or exciting to work for. Then, start a conversation with someone at that organization to potentially find something there in the future.
Celebrate the wins.
When you achieve an activity goal by the end of the week, find a way to celebrate that. If you don’t celebrate even the small things along the way, you won’t be able to keep up the momentum needed to reach your goals. Keep your enthusiasm up by celebrating the good work you’re doing.
What do you want to start? What is your goal? In all areas of life, activity equals results. Do the things you have control over, and let go of the rest. Give it time and be patient with the process, and you’ll reach the next step in your career transition journey.