By Vicki Salemi
There's no denying that we live in a world full of instant gratification. Texting your loved one about dinner plans? You'll probably get a response within minutes. Contacting a friend to make plans to meet up for dinner next week? You'll hear back within a day or so. Emailing your boss about an upcoming deadline? You'll probably hear back in a couple of hours.
As for emailing an employer to follow up on a recent job interview? Anticipate hearing back in several days, if not longer.
This may be why your job search feels like it is not moving along fast enough or on your timetable. According to the instant gratification clock, the one we've been using for practically everything in our daily lives, you should have been hired for that new job a month ago.
We live in an instant update world, whereas your job search may feel more like it's stuck in the snail mail era. With a slight adjustment to your outlook and timeframe, you can still soar through your job search with patience and positivity. Here's how to manage your expectations on the process.
1. Focus on mini-milestones. Although the job offer itself ends up being the most important result from your job search, it's helpful to break it down even further to stay the course. Even meaningful networking conversations deserve a celebration, whether it's a special cup of java, a manicure or a shoe shine. This is progress.
And the more quality coals you have in the fire – interesting jobs you're applying to, meaningful networking conversations, positive feedback from a phone interview – the more you'll be able to dance along the journey instead of bemoaning the timetable on one specific job.
2. Document your job search activities. Keep track of companies you're applying to, dates and outcomes of phone and office interviews, next steps and, most importantly, when and with whom you're following up.
A watched pot never boils. So, if you're staring at the phone wondering why your dream employer hasn't called you after submitting your resume, focus on the variety of activities you're embarking upon by keeping track of specific activities in one place and when you should follow up. Don't dwell on the notion that it's taking too long.
Newsflash: It's nearly always going to feel like it's taking too long. Focus on action-oriented behaviors in your control to keep things moving forward.
Please keep in mind that hiring managers are out of the office from time to time, working on major projects or traveling for business, so decisions get delayed. But when you do land a wonderful new job and you're immersed in new challenges, the fact that it took four additional weeks to get the offer won't even cross your mind.
3. Create a rewards system. In other words, if you had 100 pounds to lose, instead of thinking how far off the end goal seems, create multiple finish lines closer to your current state.
Not unlike weight loss, toggle your mindset to accepting delayed gratification – a light at the end of the tunnel is waiting for your arrival. Similar to setting up celebrations, create markers along the way, such as three successful recent interviews or two excellent contacts made from an industry networking event.
4. Think realistically about timeframes. You're not the only person eager to land that new job and begin a new chapter in your career. When I worked in corporate recruiting, I had to set expectations with hiring managers who also wanted to make hires in an instant.
"Not so fast," I told them. First, the job posting got approved and posted, and resumes were submitted. Next, I reviewed all of them, conducted phone screens, provided feedback, scheduled office interviews, gathered feedback, conducted the next round of interviews and – you guessed it – gathered more feedback. Perhaps at this time, I got hiring approvals and the confirmed compensation package, sent the offer letter, allowed the candidate to give two weeks' notice and ran a background check. Well, the earliest we could make a new hire was eight weeks – in a perfect world.
That's why a preconceived mindset of when you think you'll land a job isn't helpful. Too many things are out of your control and expecting immediate feedback and instant next steps will distract you from your endeavors.
5. And now ditch them. Consider this: Would you really want to expedite the process to work for a less-than-stellar employer within three months instead of that amazing employer within five months? Two months is not that significant, so as you toss expectations of a swift process away, you will only be delighted if the process is faster than you anticipated.
Moreover, you'll be pretty excited when focusing more on the quality of the role you're pursuing, positive interview experience and people you met rather than the fact that they called you back within seven business days instead of two.
6. Be patient. If you've ever purchased a house, chances are you didn't find the right one overnight. After defining your criteria, scouring open houses and pounding the pavement, dealing with financials, your mortgage, down payment and contracts – not to mention the closing and physical act of moving in – that process took significant time and effort as well. It was time and effort well spent when looking at the outcome.
At the end of the day, things in life worth having, such as your next job, don't materialize overnight. When it comes to your job search and finding a better opportunity, forget the instant gratification world we live in, and if employers do get back to you rather quickly, remember it's a marathon, not a sprint. There are several steps along the way that will all be worth your efforts.