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How FOMO Makes Your Job Search Harder

FOMO, the fear of missing out, is a surprising problem in defining a career or job search. In terms of a job search, candidates may apply for position after position in a variety of industries. Because they are worried about missing out on a potential job, e.g., experiencing FOMO, they try to be all things to all people. This scattershot approach feels really productive because it requires a lot of time and energy.

The problem with this quantity vs quality approach is that it tends to breed cover letters and a LinkedIn profile that sound lifeless and generic, so that it's not clear what makes YOU a great employee.

Secondly, applying to many jobs or Taking a one-size-fits-all approach may not be the most effective or efficient approach.

As tempting as it may be to explain every job and every accomplishment to let potential employers know what you can do, it has a tendency to clutter your resume and make it really long.

So the question I ask is: What do you actually like to do? Who do you really want to work with? Where do you want to be geographically? What are you really good at that everyone seems to recognize right away?

The paradox is that job seekers are afraid that they will leave out some key piece of information that could be the ticket to their next job. I’m here suggesting that by clarifying what you want, what you do well, where and with whom you want to work, you will be happier during the job search and with the result.

Make Your Job Search Easier

Focusing requires making choices, limiting options and trusting that the right thing WILL come around. Focusing also makes it easier to:

  1. Write a customized cover letter and resume that speak to what you—and the employer—really want.

  2. Search on LinkedIn for quality connections.

  3. Communicate to your own network exactly what you’re looking for so they are better able to help you.

  4. Figure out which networking events are worth your time and which ones aren’t.

  5. Set up filters for job postings and figure out what to read on LinkedIn.

Still don't believe me? See if the examples below ring true.

Example 1

You’re at a cocktail party and you’re chatting with someone and they find out you are looking for work. They ask, “Oh, really? What are you looking for?”

You say, “You know, project management. I’m organized and like to solve problems.”

“Oh, huh. Any specific industry?” they prod.

“No, it really doesn’t matter. I’ve been in high-tech, but I could do PM work for any industry. I’m really open and don’t want to limit my options.”

Now, compare the above answer with this.

Example 2

Same situation at the cocktail party and same question: “What are you looking for?”

You say: “I want to be a project manager for a startup company that works on sustainable energy projects because I love creating order out of chaos and being the person who sets up systems and people for getting stuff done so everyone is successful. Plus, I want to be working in an area where I’m making a difference and I want to see waste reduced in the world.”

Cocktail Buddy: “That’s cool. I have a friend who just started working at _____. I’d be happy to connect you on LinkedIn.”

Or, Cocktail Buddy might say, “That’s cool. I don’t know anyone in that industry, really, but have you thought about talking to ______ over there by the chips and dip? S/he has done a lot of PM work and might know someone in that industry.”

See the difference it makes when you’ve targeted what you want to do, where and for whom? When you’re clear, it makes it easier for other people to come up with people they can connect you with.

Why not commit to truly focusing your efforts on one type of job and 1-3 companies where you wold most like to be and see how it makes a difference in your job search? Do it for a week or two. Let me know what you discover about yourself and your job search.

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