Setting a Deadline for Finding a Job: Smart Strategy or Recipe for Disaster?

My new goal is to find a job by Christmas. I think that a deadline will give my job search more focus. But what happens if I miss the deadline?

What do you try when you feel like you’ve already tried everything to find a full-time job?

I’ve been at this now for 32 months. I’m no novice at the search for work anymore; luckily for me, my skills have become well-honed.

Actually, it’s ironic: usually experience is a good thing, but the more job hunting experience you have, the worse it is for you because it means that you still don’t have a job. It’s an area, like burying husbands (I did that once, which was much more than enough), in which you don’t want to gain experience.

Anyway, it came to me in a flash of intuition today that I need to set a goal. Out of nowhere I heard my inner voice saying, “I want to have a job by Christmas.” I don’t know where that came from or why, but there it was.

I started to think about it and I like the idea of setting a deadline for myself. It gives me a concrete amount of time within which to work. I don’t know why I’ve never thought of approaching the search this way before.

While I’ve been unemployed, I’ve found that I tend to look ahead and see nothing specific: just weeks and months and years of blank time stretching out before me. I sometimes feel like I’m adrift, floating in this limbo between my last job and my next one. 

But we all know that time, even when it seems endless, is sadly finite. Sooner or later, there’s going to be that one last milestone for each of us. So it makes sense to stop thinking that there will always be time – to find a job or to do anything else, for that matter. I’ve been very conscious of this for a long time, but never in connection with my job search.

So it’s time for a new beginning, to hit that “reset” button and start again. I’m setting myself a deadline of Christmas to find a job.

I think this will help me focus, to concentrate on the steps I need to take to achieve this goal. Maybe viewing my job search from a different perspective will make a difference. It just feels better to think that my search will actually come to an end. Even if I don’t know that it will, just looking at it this way makes me feel more positive. It gives me more control over this process.

Now I’m brainstorming some “next steps” to help me reach my goal by Christmas. That’s about 15 weeks away. Let’s see, what do I need to do if I’m going to make a fresh start of this, with a definite conclusion in a few months?

Some ideas pop into my head right away:

  • Make sure my resumé is up-to-date and effective
  • Join a new networking group
  • Improve my profile on LinkedIn
  • Use Twitter to help me find a job (or be found for a job)
  • Learn how Facebook can assist me in my job search

I like this deadline thing.  It makes me feel like it’s worth trying some things I haven’t, or haven’t done in awhile. Starting over frees me to approach things in new ways instead of staying stuck in my old ones.  

But more time passes and lots of second thoughts and questions are poking holes in my hopeful plan, bursting my upbeat bubble. Ugh – I’m re-reading those bullets above and now they sound like every other perky “surefire tips for job hunters!” article.

And the questions: what if Christmas arrives and my present – a new job – hasn’t? Then what will I do? Will I quit trying? Will I extend my deadline? Will I attempt yet another brand new start?

Maybe I’m just playing mind games, trying to trick myself into believing that I can simply impose a beginning and an end onto this, as if it’s just another household project. It’s not. Like life, it’s impossible to predict the endpoint of a job search.

Then there’s this question: am I setting myself up for even greater disappointment if I pretend my search is almost done and it’s not? Could be. But if it helps me feel more optimistic for awhile, then it may be worth it.

This post is contributed by a community member. The views expressed in this blog are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of Patch Media Corporation. Everyone is welcome to submit a post to Patch. If you'd like to post a blog, go here to get started.

Fran Hopkins September 12, 2012 at 02:46 PM
It is! Thanks for sharing this information, Ron.
montclairgurl September 13, 2012 at 06:15 PM
Just another tip, having a website is not a bad idea, along with a twitter account. Perhaps you can turn some of your articles here into your own blog? If you're in PR, a good working knowledge of social media is key, especially for those of us who aren't digital natives. Good luck.
Barbara Fedorchak September 13, 2012 at 09:54 PM
Then Christmas it is! (you may take that day off - LOL!!)
Fran Hopkins September 13, 2012 at 10:16 PM
Thank you! I do have these things now (website, Twitter account), but I'm sure there are ways that I could be using these things in ways that would be more helpful to my search. I appreciate your ideas, montclairgurl.
Fran Hopkins September 13, 2012 at 10:17 PM
Ha ha ha, thanks, Barb! It can't hurt to be positive about this and it might help. See you!


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