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Avoiding the Inevitable Spiral & Scope Creep of Your Job Search

Rachel Serwetz
Rachel Serwetz
November 22, 2021
Avoiding the Inevitable Spiral & Scope Creep of Your Job Search

Job boards are inherently a passive experience. We browse, see what’s available, apply to what feels fitting. Before you know it, you’re straying from your ideal strategy and roles that sound exciting, to roles that are boring but feasible to attain. When we rely on the job boards, it becomes much more likely that you’ll end up applying to such a variety of roles, rather than focusing on the one you know is right for you. Don’t let the tools available to you deter you from pursuing your ideal strategy, pursuing the roles and industries you know are a fit for you. Rather, find new approaches.

Here’s why you should question the typical approach of relying on online job boards:

Most roles are attained via networking, anyway

  • According to HubSpot, 85% of jobs are filled through networking

2. Many open roles are not even posted online

  • According to CNBC, 70% of jobs are never published publicly.

3. The more time you spend applying to roles that you don’t want and/or are roles that are not a good fit for you, the more time you’re wasting

  • While it might be easy to sit back, peruse the job boards passively, and apply to whatever you see, what happens if you did land an interview for a role you don’t really want? How is that interview going to go? And/or, are you not even getting to that interview stage because your materials are so clearly misaligned with those roles? If you recognize that this strategy isn’t effective, realize that every minute you keep pursuing it, you’re lengthening your own job search.

4. It’s critical to find focus and control during your job search

  • Job boards have become so easy to use, like social media, that it takes a lot of self control to figure out:
  • 1) how/where to spend your time wisely in job search, the balance of activities to pursue, and not solely relying on online job boards (see below) and
  • 2) how to stay in control of your direction — i.e. if you see open roles posted online that don’t align with your direction or strategy, to choose to NOT apply.
  • #1 and #2 are tied together — because if you’re on the job boards all day long, you’ll inherently realize that scope creep.

5. It’s critical to reflect during your job search to notice any trends that may not have been immediately obvious to you

  • Reflection is an underrated, core component of any career stage, but especially job search. You know yourself best. You know what you could’ve strengthened in the interview. You know whether you’re excited about the roles you’re pursuing or not. You know whether you’ve been avoiding networking. You may not know the why behind these things or how to resolve and improve on them (a coach can help!), but increase and facilitate self awareness to identify areas for improvement if you want to be efficient in your job search.

6. It’s critical to find your positivity and confidence (i.e. resilience) during your job search

  • Otherwise, you will endure and pursue passive strategies, and likely pursue and apply to roles you’re not excited about. It’s not easy to feel this way everyday in a job search, but a) be sure to reflect on what you need to keep your mindset in an optimistic, resilience state and b) read below on how upskilling helps improve your job search mindset. In order to pursue networking and land a role you’re excited about, you will need to garner an active, engaged, energized, positive, confident mindset.

To avoid all of these common pitfalls, here’s what we suggest:

  1. First, confidently narrow down what role and industry is most fitting, suitable, and exciting for you to pursue as your next career step. (See: career exploration process); this sometimes can take 1–3 months but is well worth it to ensure your job search is efficient and effective
  2. Then, pursue upskilling that will push you towards your ideal direction. We encourage pursuing a project or learning opportunity during your job search (especially if you’re not working). This allows you to ask yourself what it is you want to learn or what skill you want to gain. But, be sure to tap into your authentic interests to figure out what project would be interesting to you, versus just picking a skill you think employers want to see. If you hate learning that skill, there’s a strong chance you’d hate the job — so put the time in to figure out what project or skill would be a positive, energizing, reputable, worthwhile side experience to pursue during your job search.
  3. Then, improve your personal branding materials to represent your background, strengths, and direction. This is much easier to represent an authentic story and tailor your materials effectively once you know your ideal direction.
  4. Then, pursue a strategic, focused job search. Be sure to balance your day across various types of activities, rather than solely, passively reviewing online job postings.

Networking

i.e. setting up informational calls with professionals in your target roles & companies to learn from them, is the #1 activity you should be doing. Be creative to think about all the various platforms, places, avenues where people can meet you and you can meet them. (Leverage your network to get introductions, your alumni network, virtual or in person industry events, community-based platforms (slack groups, or other websites that offer threads and conversational components), Linkedin threads, conversations, events, messaging, and more)

Researching

Don’t forget to keep learning about your target roles and industries.

Events

Find virtual or in person events to meet additional professionals and learn more about your target fields.

Online job boards

Check these, but don’t completely rely on them as your sole method of identifying opportunities

Reflection

Try journaling or transcendental meditation, or leverage a career coach, to ensure you’re staring at not just what you’e doing, but how you’re doing, to identify areas for improvement and iterate accordingly.

Self care

Don’t forget to take care of your mind and body holistically to ensure that when you show up to your interviews, networking, and job search in general, you’re feeling focused, centered, and positive; your drivers will lead to your outcomes!

Avoiding the Inevitable Spiral & Scope Creep of Your Job Search

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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.

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