Archive for December, 2012

A Progress Monitor Helps

Improve your job-hunting technique by telling someone what steps you have completed and what you plan to do next. Does that sound too simple? It is, but it works. I call this person a progress monitor, but, as you will see, the monitor does little more than listen to or read your reports. The benefit comes from preparing the reports. Selecting the right person to be your progress monitor is important, so follow the guidelines below.

What is a progress monitor? Doing a job search alone can be depressing. A strong will is required to keep at it for the time it takes to find a job today. Having someone to share the ups and downs with you keeps you going. There will be days when you’ll be so discouraged you won’t be able to get out of bed to face another unpromising job application form. It’ll help when you remember that you told someone, a person who cares about you, what you’d planned for the day.

Choosing a progress monitor. A good progress monitor is a listener—a person you can talk to without fear of criticism. You benefit more if the person you select accepts your report without judgment. Not everyone can do this. Some will want to make suggestions about your activities and plans, or give you a pep talk when you don’t feel like it. Select someone who cares about you enough to listen without criticism. Find a person who is positive, encouraging, and supportive.

It is most helpful to have a written report. For that reason you may want to choose someone who is not in the same home. I picked a monitor in another city and e-mailed her my report each day. Once the message was sent, I felt committed. Even if you choose someone you live with as your progress monitor, write the reports. Some people feel it is best not to use a spouse for a progress monitor. I think it depends on the relationship. In some cases, a husband or wife might be the best person for the job. In other cases, the worst. Before choosing your progress monitor, read on.

Writing a report helps you focus on what to do next and that is more important than having someone to read it. The benefits of the progress reports are not from what the monitor does. The benefits are from what you do. So, if there is no one you want to be your progress monitor, write the reports anyway. It still works.

Report your feelings. Along with your daily reports of what you have done and what you plan to do, add a brief comment about how you feel. Dallas psychologist Stephanie Spera and colleagues found that when unemployed, middle-aged professional men wrote about their feelings they were better able to cope with their emotions and got jobs faster. Spera feels the writing led to a more positive attitude that helped the men work through the situation more quickly. This study was done in 1994, but I see no reason why the situation would be different today.

What goes in a report? Write a progress report like a letter or an email. For example:

Dear Brad,

Today I applied for jobs at four companies. None look promising. I felt so discouraged I couldn’t face another application form so I read a novel for a while to relax my mind. But then I went back to work. I applied at Johnson Systems and Thompson’s. I saw Ken while I was at Thompson’s and he said Elliot’s is hiring. So I’m going there tomorrow. My plans for tomorrow are: …

Then list your plans. The report can also be used as a to-do list for you.

Learn from reporting. When you write a report listing your plans, you may find some tasks left from the day before. Don’t criticize yourself for not sticking exactly to a plan. What you actually did instead may have been more important than what you planned to do. You will improve your planning with experience and learn to be more accurate about judging how much you can accomplish in one day. Be realistic about your plans, but stretch yourself a little, too. Stay busy, but remain flexible.

Progress reporting works. Besides improving your attitude, progress reporting keeps you organized. Preparing a to-do list for the next day helps identify what needs to be done. It involves goal-setting that ignites the subconscious to move you toward the overall goal of finding a job. This approach works in the same way twelve-step meetings and Weight Watcher’s meetings work. When we make a commitment, we’re more likely to accomplish our goals. If you’re ready to get serious about finding a job, find a progress monitor now.


Sidney W. Frost, B.A., M.S.

The author's job-search advice has appeared in more than forty newspapers and other publications around the country. He has worked as a corporate recruiter in information technology and, as an IT supervisor has reviewed many applications and held many interviews over the years in both the private and public sector. His knowledge of the emotional impact of a job loss comes from his own experience as well as training received to help people who have lost jobs and faced other losses.

Mr. Frost is also the author of the Job Seekers' Attitude Adjustment Guide which is available in paperback and Kindle editions as well as two inspirational novels. See for information. His other blog, The Christian Bookmobile/ talks about reading and writing.

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