Follow this Weekly Reflection Exercise to Assess & Improve Your Job Search

In your job search, reflect on these core areas and identify what you can strengthen in your approach to more efficiently land a fitting role. This is an activity you can and should do on a weekly basis. Reflect on:

  • How are you dividing up your time?
  • What are you learning about the direction you’re targeting?
  • Are the metrics illuminating any patterns or common breakpoints?
  • How you’re feeling -- don’t ignore your mindset -- it is critical to all the rest!
  • How well your organizational / accountability system is keeping you productive, or not

Describe where most of your time is going. Where do you need to be spending more time? Less time?

Online job applications or networking?

  • It is easy to only focus on online applications because job boards are designed to make you feel like you are taking action, however, statistically most jobs are landed through networking and there are oftentimes many jobs not posted online. When you pursue networking, you actively ask yourself which role, team, industry, and company you want to connect with, increasing your confidence that you’re reaching the people that are doing what you want to do next. While networking may not feel as comfortable, it is most effective, so proactively protect time to find at least one new connection and informational call each week.
  • Volume is key, with direction in mind.
  • The more networking and applications you do, the better, as long as you are still being targeted with the right roles and companies.

I usually suggest this breakdown for weekly job search activities:

  • Apply to a job online and then actively pursue and land at least one networking call with someone at that organization
  • Pick one target company (whether there is an open role online or not) and pursue and land at least one networking call with someone at that organization
  • If you have time, continue to do more of the above
  • In the end of your week, additional activities that add variety to your job search include:
  • Joining virtual or in person events (webinars, etc) - Joining events that are focused on your ideal type of work (role) or industry is a great way to hear from panelists, hiring managers, recruiters, and meet participants as well.
  • Research - Learning is an underrated helpful activity during your job search. It allows you to feel a sense of choice as part of your search, seeking our types of roles, work, industries and companies that align with your interests. This will ensure that later on when you land in interviews, not only that you have recent information on the industry, but that you knew enough to decide whether to apply or not, and increasing your odds of finding interviews that are a strong fit for you.
  • Thought Leadership - Stay active on LinkedIn by either resharing an article, commenting on a thread, or even creating your own content (blog or video). The latter can be used in follow ups after interviews to further prove your fit.
  • Skill Development - Especially if you’re not working, pursuing an opportunity where you can learn new skills and/or a hands-on project to utilize new or old skills is a great way to keep your mindset feeling productive, confident, creative, and positive. This is also a great activity you can talk about during your interviews and even add to your job materials to show you’re investing time and effort towards your intended career direction. This is especially true for jobs that require a portfolio.
  • Personal Branding - Update your job materials about once per week to incorporate keywords you’re seeing on target job applications.
  • Reflection & Pivoting - See below for some more reflection questions that will inform how you pivot and strengthen your efforts given what you’re learning.
  • Self Care - Take care of your body and mind to ensure you can be focused, resilient, and open-minded during your search.

Are you focusing on outbound applications or relying on inbound messages from recruiters?

  • It is easy to focus on responding to inbound leads. But be very careful if that is the only place your time is going. Inbound leads may or may not be aligned with what you’re looking for in your next role.
  • When you pursue outbound outreach, it provides an opportunity to seek out the role, industry, and company that you think would be a great fit. Whereas with inbound, it often becomes a question of settling or how to say no.
  • Don’t forget that you can respond and tell a recruiter more of what you are looking for so they can make better matches with the open roles they are seeking to fill.
  • Be sure your job materials (LinkedIn profile, resume, etc) are tailored to highlight the direction you want to go in so that inbound leads are not solely relying on what you have done before. You can get creative with how to accurately display where you want to go so that others reach out for the right things, reducing your need to say no or settle.

Find Variety in Job Boards

  • Ensure to have some variety and not just use only one job board. There are tons of formal and informal sites that post about job openings.
  • Consider your alumni network, following relevant industry groups on social media, joining slack groups, joining industry networking groups, and do your research to find the multitude of different job boards that exist.
  • While you shouldn’t overextend time on these job sites, you can vary it up so that once per week you upload your resume to a different site, that way recruiters and hiring managers have a better chance of finding you.
  • Remember, your resume should be edited and targeted before pursuing any job search, and that way when it starts to get disseminated, it already makes clear your ideal direction.

Learning - What are you learning about your target roles, companies, or industries? Do you need to adjust what you’re targeting? Do you feel clear on what direction is the best fit for you?

  • This is absolutely critical! Utilize networking, events, research, interviews, job descriptions, and all the information you’re digesting on a weekly basis to assess whether your direction is feeling aligned or not (i.e. role, industry, and environment).
  • Each week, take a pulse of what you’re targeting, what feels aligned or not, and how to adjust.
  • You want to find what is the best fit for you as it relates to the specific type of role (type of work), the level of the role, the industry, the environment/culture, location/remote/hybrid, or really anything that is standing out to you in what you’re searching for where you can feel more aligned with what you’re going after.
  • If you’re not sure what is the best fit for you, revisit the career exploration journey so you can feel fully informed before you start applying and interviewing.
  • Being too open ended won’t help you and here’s why. Be sure you are using what you’re learning about these roles and industries to narrow in on what, who, and where you’re targeting your outreach and job search pursuits.

Assess where you are seeing or not seeing traction to inform what you can improve

  • Job search is a funnel. Use a simple metrics process each week to assess how much you are doing as it relates to applications, networking outreach, networking calls, and each step of the process, so that you can more easily identify where the breaks are, and thus tweak your approaches to improve your outcomes.
  • Are you noticing any patterns? Are you landing interviews but no offers? Are you sending networking outreach without receiving responses? When you identify a common challenge you are facing, you can more easily get the help you need to overcome this barrier by speaking with a career coach, mentor, or peer.
  • Hint: If you’re struggling with networking, consider these common pitfalls. Are you reaching out to warm connections or only cold connections? Are you messaging them or also utilizing email? Are you phrasing your outreach in a way that is learning-focused or job-search focused?

How are you feeling in the process? What can you do to improve your confidence and morale?

  • Job search is not easy and often takes more mental strength than simply working in a job itself, so don’t forget to take extra great care of yourself.
  • Stress is normal, but find ways to take adequate care of your physical and mental health.
  • Turn your stress into active reflections to identify if or where you can tactically improve your daily process.
  • Be creative and self aware as to what activities you can do proactively, consistently, on a daily basis, as well as what you can do in the moment when something unexpected arises.
  • Remember that you are a human, and feelings are normal and expected, especially with such an important task as finding your next professional opportunity. That means you need to pay extra attention to how you feel and how it’s impacting your job search process.
  • These feelings are something you can learn from as they are an opportunity to identify where you can gain some guidance to strengthen your mindset or approach, rather than staying in that same place of uncertainty or doubt.
  • Are there any activities you don’t feel confident pursuing and thus you’re stalling on doing what you know you need to do? Working with a coach, therapist, mentor, or peer can be immensely helpful to get comfortable with the tactics you know will help you reach your goals.
  • Uncover any hesitations or limiting beliefs. Your mindset will affect your action or inaction, so turn any subconscious feelings into an explicit one, so that you can face it head on and quickly.
  • Daily journaling or meditation is strongly encouraged.
  • Work with a coach, mentor, or peer to ensure that a positive mindset is what is driving your actions rather than acting out of a place of fear.

Are you staying organized and accountable? Are you prioritizing well? Are you structuring, balancing, and managing your time well? Do you need to adjust your process for where you create your plans (to do list, tracking systems, calendars)?

  • This is an undoubtedly important element. Because time is your precious resource, how are you tracking what you need to be doing and how much you need to be doing it?
  • Are you using a system to visualize your plan for the day and the week? Are you timeblocking?
  • Without this, you risk that ‘easy’ but perhaps less effective activities will take over your time.
  • Networking is something that has to be proactively scheduled to remember to research new connections and reach out to them, whereas online job boards make it feel like a never-ending list of opportunities you can apply to. But just because it feels easier to do, that doesn’t mean that’s where you should spend all of your time.
  • Tracking systems also make it easier to identify patterns of what you’re doing, what’s working, and what’s not.
  • Try to tackle doing the hard things earlier in the day and in the week, so that you’re prioritizing well.
  • What tools are helping you stay on track? What can you try to do better or differently?
  • Check out 13 accountability tips here so you can work on your mechanisms for staying organized, productive, and on track.

If you’re ready to reflect, learn, and clarify what path is best for you, then let’s talk!

Learn more about WOKEN’s career exploration and job search platform & coaching here.

About the author: Rachel Serwetz’ early professional experience was at Goldman Sachs in Operations and at Bridgewater Associates in HR. From there, she was trained as a coach at NYU and became a certified coach through the International Coach Federation. After this, she worked in HR Research at Aon Hewitt and attained her Technology MBA at NYU Stern. Throughout her career, she has helped hundreds of professionals with career exploration and for the past 4.5+ years she has been building her company, WOKEN, which is an online career exploration platform to coach professionals through the process of clarifying their ideal job and career path. She is also an Adjunct Professor of Entrepreneurship at Binghamton University and has served as a Career Coach through the Flatiron School, Columbia University, WeWork, and Project Activate.