Just like running a marathon or achieving a weight loss goal, it helps to have someone to keep you accountable when it comes to your job search. I call this an accountability partner or job search buddy. When women I'm working with on job searches are having a hard time staying on track, I match them up with a similarly situated job seeker or suggest they find a buddy right away.
Here are some suggestions for how to successfully work with an accountability partner on your job search:
First, find the right person.
There are any number of ways to find an accountability partner. It might be a friend, an alumna of your college or someone from an unrelated hobby. Don't be afraid to take the first step toward reaching out to someone you are not all that close to, knowing most people benefit from help when it comes to job searching. This could be a great way to make a new friend or to simply get the support you both need. If you're truly stuck and coming up empty on possible partners, attend a local MeetUp group, professional association meeting, or college alumni networking event. There are guaranteed to be people who are also job seeking. You can get together for coffee and assess whether there's a match.
Determine where and how often you'd like to meet.
Do you want to meet in person and work side-by-side at a coffee shop? Do you prefer phone calls and emails only? Would you like to speak weekly? Get clear about your ideal accountability situation and then find out what your partner is looking for. I recommend weekly phone calls or coffee meetings, at least to start.
Focus on short-term goal setting.
When I've had an accountability partner, we would speak on Monday mornings about what each of us wanted to accomplish in the week ahead. She would check in with me later in the week and vice-versa. It helped that we both were committed to the process and liked the idea of peer coaching. For job seekers, pick items that are proving difficult for you to move forward on like writing a cover letter or reaching out to someone who intimidates you. These are ideal action steps that an accountability partner can help you commit to.
Celebrate wins and get over losses.
Part of the joy of having a partner is to celebrate small wins like sending off an application, getting an interview or finally speaking to that senior executive at your dream company that you've been trying to reach for weeks. Even if these actions do not ultimately lead to anything, it's nice to have someone there cheering you on. Alternatively, when you don't get the job after five rounds of interviews, it's also extremely helpful to have emotional support and someone to encourage you to keep moving forward.
Why job search, or try to achieve any big goal for that matter, alone when you could enjoy the process and yield better results by having an accountability partner to help get you there. For further suggestions and to learn how long it may take to find a job you love, see this earlier post.