EditorialsBy Matt Bud, Chairman, The FENG

Unless you buy your mustard in 55-gallon drums, and have some very sharp knives, eating an entire elephant can be a formidable task, not unlike the task facing you at the beginning of a job search.

There are so many things to do and all of them appear to be urgent. In addition, they all appear to be unstructured. Unlike the monthly closings and analytical work that followed at your last job, the best approach and the approximate time required to do them is unknown. It can leave you feeling like a “deer in the headlights.” (In case you haven’t noticed, I thought I would try some animal analogies tonight.)

When I was working on my Master’s thesis (oh so many years ago), I was fortunate to run into a friend on the train. Frankly, I never thought I would get it finished (and I almost didn’t), but the approach to problem solving he suggested I have used ever since.

A thesis is a series of chapters based on research. You can keep taking notes and organizing, or you can start writing. He suggested I start writing. Basically he suggested doing the easiest chapter first and then moving to the next easiest chapter and then the next easiest. Sooner or later the whole thing would be done, and much to my surprise, it was!

When you examine the steps in job search, on any given day there are components that you can work to completion. Sure, your resume will never be totally done (and I do recommend this should be your attitude), but it can be worked to a point where it is at least competent. In other words, you can move the ball down field and get it to where you can use it if you get an interview.

The same is true of networking contacts. Sure, you have to put together a list and you have to “fill it out” with full business card information for it to be useful to you. But, it can be viewed as another discrete project that can grow and grow. Like the final editing of your resume, it is another project without a true end. My networking contacts for my search in 1991-2 climbed to 1,400 index cards. (Remember the days before laptop computers?)

Do research on the job search process so you really understand it. Friends, everything technical worth knowing you have learned in your life began by reading about it. There are lots of good books to help shape your thinking, and you don’t really have time to read all of them at once. Further, you can’t really absorb the ideas if you try to “eat the elephant” all at once.

Dedicate yourself to taking small bites of everything, but make sure you complete at least some small component at each sitting.

As the days go by, and they will go by, you will easily gain a sense of accomplishment and achievement. The pieces will fall together and before you know it, you will be back in harness!

Regards, Matt

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