In defence of job hunting procrastination

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In defence of job hunting procrastination

By now, I bet you're getting good at it. You began honing the craft from a young age, doing everything to avoid the unavoidable. Perhaps it was GCSEs or even earlier when you were avoiding having a bath, you're now the masters of procrastination.

Def: The carrying out of less important tasks instead of attending to more urgent ones.

The art of procrastination, and it is an art, is the successful achievement of tasks that you would never even consider doing unless you were averting your attention from the inevitable. The classic case is exam preparation and revision. You could be reading through practice papers, reworking old notes, or more appealingly you could be pairing up socks, organising draws or watching the kettle boil.

With exam season being over however, there is still a need about for new graduates though, isn't there? You might not admit it to yourself or ignore the pressing, nagging urgency of it but you need a job. That's all there is to it. Some lesser fulfilled people may argue you procrastinated three years at great expense by going to university but the fact remains, degree or no degree you're going to need to get a job.

So what are the main traps in your job hunt? In days gone by, procrastination may have been much more difficult. How the hell our parents managed to procrastinate without such heaven-sent distractions as Twitter, YouTube or Netflix I will never understand. The internet is the most dangerous trapping to productivity. This is not just the case in job hunting or revision, but everything. By the time I finish this post, I will have lost count the amount of times I was distracted and a nagging query sent me down the Wikipedia rabbit hole.

But is it really that bad? And if it is, is there any way you can turn it into a positive for your aims? Giving you advice on "Coping with Exam Procrastination" maybe something more suitable for the streams at Huffington Post, it's also not the time. But to answer those two questions succinctly and directly. Yes, it's pretty bad and yes there is stuff you can do about it that doesn't involve you deleting your Twitter and Facebook accounts.

Firstly, procrastination as part of your job hunt is bad because you're supposed to be trying to kick on in life. While avoiding revision is only going to lead to a minor breakdown when the exam eventually rolls around, avoiding key parts of job hunt will only lead to you into some form of Kafkaesque nightmare of never-ending unemployment. Sorry for being bleak.

But how can it be a good thing?

How the hell can arsing around on Twitter or Facebook be any good for your job hunt? What meaningful reason am I about to read? Well, in an attempt to be "down with da kidz" employers are trying their best with these massive channels of communication. Some are good, some less good, but all have the same aim of trying to reach out and get the best talent out there.

So with this in mind, what do you need to know about using social media to get you a job? Well, before any applications you submit and you are attending to some diligent research, as well as plugging the name into plug, try searching on Twitter, LinkedIn and Facebook too. This will allow you to see some direct cultural projections of the company. They often ask what you know about the company, and it is all listed there. Sometimes employers will have a designated graduate account or careers account so it's worth searching variations of this.

What are you supposed to do with this information? Some would argue that it is useless, you might be applying for a job as a manager at a reputable afterschool educational facility but them opening a new outlet in the Outer Hebrides isn't going to change your approach. Which I suppose has a gram of truth to it, unless that is of course you live in the Outer Hebrides.

But it can be indicative of wider developments and cutting-edge news about the company. Some companies also use their social media channels to tell graduates and potential applicants what they want to see and offer genuine advice too.

Right, so a bit of stalking, what else?

Facebook and most notably Twitter have opened totally new channels of communication between usually unreachable people. Whether its pop stars, footballers or even supermarkets, and now employers. You got a question about their application process, entry requirements, queries about their requirements go ahead and ask. You don't need to traipse down to your careers fair to speak to these people (although it is recommended) you can ask them anytime, anywhere from the comfort of your PJs.

Job hunting isn't just about knowing your stuff in the interview or covering letter. These employers are fastidious people and will put the yards in to learn more about you. If you're interested in marketing, SEO, fashion, engineering or whatever it is be seen to show an interest. Follow the right people, post relevant articles you've read, even post your own thoughts in a blog. If employers google you, which is far from unheard of, and come across a regularly updated and insightful twitter feed with the right kind of posts or articles on you're going to look little short of incredible.

A note of warning also, close followers of this blog will have seen I provided you with some handy hints to avoid soiling your own chances. Here is a quick break down for essential rules for using social media while you're job hunting.

  • Employers may find you - they are nosey and will have a peak
  • Your Berlin away trip for Oktoberfest probably wasn't a true reflection of your professional capabilities - Keep your pictures on lockdown
  • Don't write anything that could be construed as offensive - Would you show your mother it?
  • Slating employers/people/brands isn't a great look - think about what your feed says about you
  • If in doubt hide it all/protect your tweets
  • Read more about Facebook and Twitter

So I'm still arsing around, not getting anywhere

Nobody said job hunting was easy. It's frustrating and can seem fruitless at times but you've got to power on. The one way I managed to whip myself into some kind of regime and still do it while working at is a rewards system. I can do this as long as I've done X, Y and Z. The Carrot and Stick approach is very simple and it's all about the goodies. I will have applied to this job and reward myself with a cup of tea, a Kit Kat, a ciggie, an episode of Peep Show, you decide.

Overall, procrastination is fine. You can do it as much as you like as long as you like, within reason. There is no deadline on it, looming over you forcing you to rush into things. But there are valuable activities you can involve in your "procrastination" that might alleviate the monotony of writing Dear Sir or Madam repeatedly. It's the boredom that kills you and Netflix is an easy way out. Pairing your socks is one of the worst ways to spend your designated job hunting time, but interacting with employers on twitter and learning more about their image and brand is not. Luckily for you they can be combined.