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Building momentum with purpose

SMART strategies for January job seekers

Published on

January 9, 2024


The start of a new year often sparks renewed determination, resolutions, and a fresh start. But for some job seekers, this time of year can be challenging when kickstarting a job search. With the warmth of the holiday season in the rearview mirror, the combination of shorter days and lack of sunlight can lead to a dip in serotonin and irregular sleep – which together, are a significant hit to motivation.

This is especially true for those who have been on the job hunt for several months. Trying to regain the motivation from December can be tough, and it can be frustrating to start the year feeling like you're back at square one. New Year resolutions can also intensify frustration and uncertainty, along with comparisons to others that can make you feel like you're falling behind. To weather these tough times, it’s crucial to work against negative thinking, and instead focus on practical goals and self-care.  

Negativity can be a significant barrier to motivation. Combat self-doubt by questioning negative thoughts, and adjusting your mindset to view challenges as opportunities for growth. For example: If faced with rejection, see it as a chance to refine your approach, rather than a reflection of your worth. Cultivating a positive mindset is the first step in navigating the highs and lows of the job search journey.

To overcome low motivation, one proven strategy to employ is the popular SMART method — a practice that involves setting goals that are Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Relevant, and Time-bound. This approach provides clarity and structure, gradually cultivating a more motivated mindset over time. First developed as tool to achieve managerial goals and objectives, the SMART method’s simplicity and effectiveness have resulted in widespread application in various fields beyond business, including education, project management, personal development, and more. Let’s unpack the details of this strategy and help you stay motivated in your search!

Specific goals: your roadmap to success

Vague goals can lead to aimless searching and wasted time, with few results to show for it. Instead of a generic job search, get specific about your goals. Define the industry, role, and companies you're targeting. Ask yourself what skills and qualifications you bring to the table, and which ones you need to acquire. For instance, a goal like securing a mid-level marketing position in the technology sector, emphasizing digital marketing and content creation, provides a clear roadmap for your efforts.

Measurable goals: tracking progress builds motivation

Momentum thrives on progress, and breaking down your overarching goal into measurable milestones can help sustain it. Whether it's updating your resume, networking with professionals, or applying to jobs, set tangible targets you can track. Having measurable goals (like updating your resume by mid-month, or connecting with five industry professionals on LinkedIn each week) enables you to not only document your achievements, but also maintain a sense of accomplishment that fuels your motivation.

Achievable goals: celebrating the small wins

Setting achievable goals is key to building motivation, and a series of smaller wins can have a snowball effect on your overall drive and ambition. To overcome that initial inertia, start with small, achievable goals: Update your LinkedIn profile, reach out to a former colleague for advice, or research companies in your target industry. These small, positive changes build momentum and gradually increase your motivation. For instance, an achievable short-term goal could be researching and compiling a list of five companies to apply to by the end of the week.

Take it further by assessing your skills, experience, and available resources with a realistic lens that factors in the current job market, industry trends, and your personal circumstances. An achievable goal here could involve completing a relevant online course or certification by the end of the month to enhance your skills, or (if applicable) updating your professional website to reflect your most recent experience. If you’re struggling to define your top skills and qualifications, ask former colleagues or friends— they may be able to shed some light on strengths you didn't know you had.

Relevant goals: align with your career vision

Job searching isn't just about finding any job; it's about finding the right job. Ensure your goals align with your long-term career aspirations. Consider the skills and experiences you want to gain, the work culture you thrive in, and the values that align with your professional goals. For instance, attending industry-related webinars or networking events can keep you updated on trends, and build connections in your desired field.

Time-Bound goals: create urgency in your search

Without deadlines, goals can become pipe dreams. Create urgency and get results by developing a job search timeline with specific deadlines for each goal. Break your job search into weekly or monthly objectives, and block off time for researching companies, customizing application materials, networking, and interview preparation. A structured plan can also help prevent procrastination, and keep your efforts consistent.

No goal is too small

If you're facing a significant lack of motivation and feeling overwhelmed by the job search process entirely, consider starting with smaller, more achievable goals. Sometimes, regaining a sense of control can begin with simple daily tasks like making your bed each morning, or taking a refreshing shower. These might seem like minor achievements, but when approached intentionally, they can create a positive ripple effect that contributes to a renewed sense of purpose, setting you up to tackle more significant challenges like updating your resume.  

To shake the rust off your job search, the SMART method can provide direction and purpose to your efforts at any time of year. By setting specific, measurable, achievable, relevant, and time-bound goals, and fostering a positive mindset, you can overcome the job search blues and build momentum towards a successful career move. Remember, each small step brings you closer to your goals, and there’s no time like the present to start the journey with purpose! Achieve the goal of checking out our available opportunities today – don’t procrastinate, your dream job could be waiting!

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