Avoid Procrastination in Your Job Search

Avoid Procrastination in Your Job Search

We’ve all been there. You’ve got a deadline to hit, targets to smash, a task needing urgent attention. Yet you’re sat watching ‘cat fail video 2015’ on YouTube.

If you’re looking for a change in career, or hate your current job so much, then searching for a new one is a matter of urgency. But being mere humans, we will still find time for menial tasks to put off impending hard work. Here’s some tips on how to avoid this and be more productive in your job search.

Procrastination is the thief of time. I know this from my life at University. I’d arrive in the library 9am sharp – books under one arm, laptop the other. By 4pm I’d typed 14 words of my dissertation. I put the ‘pro’ in procrastinate. Maybe some procrastination was done during writing this article about procrastination, like some crazy Inception follow up. 

Anyway, moving on. So you’re looking for a job? You know what you want, you’ve short-listed potential career paths and considerations, now the only hurdle is finding one and getting your CV sent off. Sounds simple, right? With the internet at your fingertips, I’m afraid not.

Pretend it’s Research

Ah yes, a common favourite. This excuse works well when trying to convince yourself that procrastination is legitimate. You’re researching. Except finding a new job doesn’t involve research into human cannons and cinnamon challenges (unfortunately). To avoid using this common ‘research’ excuse requires willpower. The same type of willpower I need when walking past pastries (mmm bakewells). 

A method that will help is to close all other open windows in your internet browser. Just stay on the job site and focus. Remove any tempting bookmark tabs you may have staring you in the face. Whatever you do, don’t think about the cat videos. Deep breathing exercises can help with this.

Believe it or not, having a pen and paper to hand can also help – just to jot down any jobs you may see or want to apply for. Even though you will add these to your favourites on the website anyway, the act of physically writing them down will engage your brain on the task itself. But don’t fall into the trap of another common procrastination technique of doodling. The inked masterpiece will not find you a job.

Be Gone Social Media! 

I know it might be inconceivable to not check your Facebook News Feed for the latest update of a friend of a friend’s mate’s brother, talking about his ‘killer’ gym session and new health kick, but think about priorities. Facebook is far from a social network. It’s a zombifying machine. Hours can be lost on refreshing news feeds, looking through old pictures of lost times and weeping like a baby at the depressing realisation that you’re getting terribly old, terribly fast. 

An extremist method I’ve found useful for this, though it may not be for everyone, is getting a friend to change your password. This means you will be totally Facebook-less and unable to procrastinate on there. The small issue with this is the friend. There is high chance you will regain Facebook only to realise you have fell victim to status updates such as ‘in a relationship with the gym’ or ‘laxatives are no fun’.

So there are two lessons here. Have the willpower to stay away from Facebook, or just find yourself nice, trustworthy friends (if they exist). 

To contradict myself, there is one social media site I will allow you on, and that’s LinkedIn. This can be a great way of connecting with and contacting potential employers. Just ensure that your profile is up to date, professional and ready to be viewed. Twitter could also be considered, as long as you don’t spend your days endlessly tweeting celebrities to no avail.

Set a Target

Targets need incentives. My favourite incentive is food. So when you are looking for a job, set yourself a target of applying for 5 jobs before you can have a slice of that double chocolate fudge cake. For every 5 jobs applied for, get another slice. Eventually you will have applied for tons of jobs and more applications equals more chance of interviews. This means more cake…which also means you may need the next size up in clothing for your interview.

You can also use targets to incorporate procrastination time in your job search. For every half hour of job searching, treat yourself to a fail compilation or a dog dressed as a reindeer. There are no limits. 

Banish the Computer

Since the internet and computing is the biggest distraction to humans since the discovery of fire, oust it from your life and go old school in your job search. Print off copies of your CV and go handing them out at places you would potentially want to work. This way, you are actively grasping the task and setting about it’s completion in a physical sense. 

This method isn’t advised as a permanent solution, more of a desperate measure. Admittedly most job opportunities are posted online these days, but rolling up at the place with your CV freshly printed would set you apart from the faceless cyber-crowd.

This also applies for mobile phones too. Since they now possess more computing power than  Apollo 11, switching your phone off, or at least the wifi, could prevent any mid-task web meandering.


I suppose the mere content of this article presents an element of procrastination – with unrelated references like bakewell tarts and spaceships. But I class these as valid nuggets of research (refer to point one). So I guess what I’m saying is that procrastination is in the nature of every human. I’m sure Sir Alan Sugar hits a quick five on Angry Birds before he fires someone. I’m sure the Queen watches funny Corgi videos when writing her speech. It happens. 

The idea when you’re searching for a job is to control it. allow yourself some procrastination. But the moment you actually think to yourself ‘I am now procrastinating’, stop. The self-realisation is the hard part. The idea is to remain focussed on the task in hand and visualise yourself in that new job you want so much. If that still doesn’t keep you away from this – then you are a lost cause, my friend. A prisoner to the cyberspace silliness, that is in equal portions pointlessly time-consuming, but irresistibly essential.