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How Can I Avoid Interview and Networking Burnout?

I have been in interview mode for about 8 months. How do I refresh from this process so that I don't start to sound like a "canned speech". I am networking and in interviews, phone and in person probably about 25 hours per week. Selling yourself starts to become tedious. Thanks for the input everyone.

Answers

Topic Expert
Mark Richards
Title: VP of Finance & Operations
Company: RBA Consulting
(VP of Finance & Operations, RBA Consulting) |

Before I begin, if you are feeling burned out - take a break. Cancel your networking meetings. You only have one chance to impress and no matter how you try, if you feel burned out - it comes through to whomever you are meeting. Trust me, I've been on both sides of this equation. No one buys from a sales person who lacks confidence - and you are your number 1 sales person!

I found that burnout is a combination of three factors: low psyche (from not getting a role or being treated poorly in process), repetition of process (different people, same pitch) and too many similar meetings (all hat, no cattle).

For the low psyche - two ideas:
1) Define 'success' as those actions that got you an interview or moved the hiring process ahead. If you only define success as getting a new role, then it's tough to feel like you accomplished anything. Keep a running list of accomplishments for each week - 2 or 3. It's these little accomplishments that will add up over time. (I have a Proformative blog post on Redefining Success)

2) Pick a project that you can accomplish in short-time. Whether as volunteer, contractor or at home - I had a list of projects I could knock out. Gave me the rhythm of being at work, where I had the sense of moving things ahead.

I know both of these two may sound like parlor tricks, but the first is about what to expect from yourself and the second reminds you that bring value to a firm. I've given this advice several times and had good feedback - I've also used it for myself.

Repetition:
What varied this for me was practicing the "80% Rule", where 80% of my networking was focused on the other person. This strategy is a long-term investment in building a relationship because you are focusing on what you can do for that person - but I can guarantee it never gets boring.

You will get your chance to pitch, but it's usually not the same - because most people return the favor and start to ask different questions and the networking becomes more collaborative. (See the resource "Networking Checklist" and blog post "Making Networking Effective - Your Timing is Everything".)

Too many meetings:
One of my mistakes in search was too much networking. I was taking too many of the same meetings or not making the most of my meetings.

For the 'same meetings', do a Proformative search on "Daily Point System". This tool will help you allocate your time to those meetings which make a difference.

For not make the most of my meetings, see the blog post "Roadmap to the Hiring Manager", this was my discovery of aligning my request for help with the my networking contact's level of relationship with the hiring manager.

This is just a starter - if you have other specific questions, please ask.

Hope this helps.

Mark

Rex Jackson
Title: EVP and Chief Financial Officer
Company: JDS Uniphase
(EVP and Chief Financial Officer, JDS Uniphase) |

Great inputs from Mark Richards. I would offer only one other input, but it's input gained from personal experience.

If you are spending 25 hours a week doing this, then I suspect you may not be going about this the right way. I highly recommend you take a step back and take stock of what you've been doing and make sure you are keeping this targeted to jobs/industries that really suit you. Are you doing this in a scattershot, all hands on deck sort of way, or are you really focused?

I don't know what your pie chart of effort looks like, but I believe you should spend 80% of your effort on networking (which I think is way less stressful and carries less burnout risk) and only 20% of your time interviewing. Broader networking will increase your visibility, your options and your confidence that there are good opportunities out there. Less interviewing and a focus on the "critical few" will improve your odds of landing a given role--I just think you'll be more prepared, fresher, and more enthusiastic (and it will show).

In my most recent job search, I cast a very wide net and ran myself to distraction. I got much better results by following my own advice above.

Good luck.

Rex

Topic Expert
Mark Richards
Title: VP of Finance & Operations
Company: RBA Consulting
(VP of Finance & Operations, RBA Consulting) |

Rex - This is an excellent point. There is see too much competition for roles (both passive and direct) to not focus on those where you have the best opportunity to be in the top set of candidates.

I have used my network to get in the door, but then realized it was the wrong door for me - so I used up networking goodwill for an opportunity that I had little chance being selected.

Mark

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