Job Search: Clear Out The Clutter
If you can’t get your car in the garage because the space is filled with “stuff” or if you don’t dare open the guestroom door because things might fall on you, you know what clutter is! You have space you can’t use because you’ve filled it with things you never or almost never use. Now translate that image into job searching.

Okay, so I know that could be a bit of a mental stretch, but bear with me a little longer.

Job Search When You Can’t See the Path Ahead

So here’s the situation: You know you need to make a job change from your current situation or find a new job if the last one went away. Your overall challenge is to plan a job search that will get you to your goal–the new job. But what if your days are so cluttered with “stuff” that you can’t figure out where you’re going next, much less how to move effectively toward your goal?

Here are a few questions to consider:

1. If my days are currently full from start to finish, how am I going to make room for a job search, which takes time and effort?

2. What can I dispense with–at least temporarily–that will enable me to free up some time?

3. Are there things I’m doing that aren’t all that important and could be eliminated entirely? (If something has become a habit but doesn’t produce any clear benefit, this might be the time to get rid of it.)

What to Do When the Situation Looks Overwhelming

Looking at your over-stuffed garage or guestroom might easily make you feel hopeless. You can’t even figure out where to start, the task is so huge. The same could apply to your impending job search if you’re in the clutter situation I’ve described. You might be able to think of a dozen or more actions you can and maybe should take, but how do you cut through the clutter?

If you’ve asked yourself the questions I listed above and identified possible answers to them, take practical steps to implement those answers. Then try cutting your job search planning process into manageable chunks.

You don’t have to accomplish everything today; what you do need is to prioritize your list of probable actions. Then pick the #1 action that you really should take before you tackle some of the others.

That task might be as simple and straightforward as deciding to touch base with a few of your closest LinkedIn connections and have a meaningful conversation with them. On the other hand, maybe you’ll find that you can see past the “overwhelm” best by clarifying your ultimate job search goal–what the new job will ideally look like, what you don’t want to have included in it, etc. The point is to achieve some clarity in the midst of the confusion.

Effective focus on the #1 action will often reveal the most useful next step for you. If it doesn’t quite do that, it should at least help you figure out what that step needs to be.

Freedom from Job Search Clutter

Once you start clearing out the job search clutter, you might feel a surge of positive energy that propels you forward. It stems from the fact that you’ve started to break free of the limitations the clutter was putting in your way. You no longer have to feel imprisoned by an overwhelming challenge that previously seemed insurmountable. That’s something to celebrate!