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Shiny Object Syndrome and Your Job Search

Hunting for a job is hard work. It is easy to get distracted because it seems that almost anything is more fun than searching for a job, even cleaning the bathroom. However, it is not just the endless list of honey do’s that distract us, there are a myriad of shiny objects that put themselves in our path. Shiny object syndrome is the tendency to chase something new rather than focus on the goal at hand.

A shiny object is anything that takes us away from our stated goal. In this case, taking immediate action on our job search. It might be a new, more exciting interim goal or, yet another certification. It could be the lure of a dream career, or must-have technology that is sure to make our life easier.

What does this sound like? “My current degree is outdated.  I really should get an advanced degree. Maybe I should go into computer programming, internet marketing, zoology; anything but this. This new credential is the hottest craze, it will make me more competitive. Once I get this new computer, chair, desk, equipment I’ll be more productive.”

What are the downsides of shiny object syndrome? You don’t make any real progress on your job search. Daily life becomes a series of vast highs and lows as you lurch from one tempting new idea to the next. You give off the impression that you aren’t serious about finding a job.  And, as your job search stretches on you become increasingly frustrated, anxious and cynical.

What can you do to counter shiny object syndrome? Write down your job search goals and keep them in front of you. Be sure they are specific and measurable, for example, make five networking calls a day, research one new company each day.

  1. Identify and work on key must-do tasks: complete resume, update LinkedIn profile, create networking email script, research cover letter best practices,  identify likely interview questions, prepare a 15 second intro, practice response to, “Why did you leave your last position?”
  2. Keep the enticing sirens at bay by writing them down for review later, then continue working on the task at hand.
  3. Set aside a specific time each day to explore the most tempting shiny object. Do this after you have completed all of your job search tasks.
  4. Adopt a wait-and-see approach. Hold off taking action for a week, if it still looks promising, do more research. Ask yourself about potential downsides to this course of action.
  5. Evaluate the obvious and hidden costs of delaying your job search.

Here are some questions to ask yourself as you contemplate latching onto the latest shiny object. Why is this new idea, path, direction so appealing? Is it in line with my long-term goals? Will it have an immediate impact on my future? How much will it cost me in time, money or credibility? What other priority will I need to let go of in order to accommodate it? If I am honest with myself, is this just another diversion? What am I avoiding?

©2021 Mary Jeanne Vincent.  All rights reserved.