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Procrastination can derail your job hunt

As the economy improves, job hunters who don’t jump back into the market with both feet soon will need much longer to find new employment, reports

In fact, habitual procrastinators can derail their job-hunting efforts by putting off until tomorrow what they should be doing today.

“Smart job seekers know to strike while the iron is heating up,” says Tony Lee, publisher, CareerCast. com. “But if their to-do lists keep getting longer and they delay in writing a cover letter or making a follow-up call, the opportunity will be gone.”

The most prevalent type of job-seeker procrastination is caused by a fear of failure. Procrastinators avoid important job hunting and networking efforts by busying themselves with routine tasks. They may have trouble concentrating, voice all kinds of excuses or complain about obstacles that stand in the way.

Procrastinators often tend to overestimate the difficulties involved while underestimating their own abilities to resolve them. As a result, they vacillate, delay or give only a half-hearted effort to finding a new job.

Perfectionism is also a cause of procrastination. Many perfectionists put off tasks because they fear failure, but in contrast to other job hunters, they tend to set exceedingly high standards and over-ambitious goals. Perfectionists can also have trouble setting priorities and determining which tasks require minimum or maximum effort.

There are a number of ways to overcome procrastination, according to

Delay gratification

Do the objectionable tasks during the first two hours each day, then accomplish the easier tasks in the remaining time.

Identify action steps

Identify specific actions, then organize the tasks and establish an action plan. For example, research job openings, potential employers, and people in your industry, then compose e-mails and cover letters to them.

Just do something

If you’re having trouble getting started, make an opening move of any kind — update your LinkedIn profile and request new contacts; create alerts on job boards; or subscribe to an online industry publication.

Create small victories

Finding a job can take many months. If you start to get discouraged, motivate yourself by creating mileposts along the way, and then reward yourself each time you reach one.

The Swiss-cheese method

When faced with the overwhelming task of finding new employment, you don’t need to commit a big block of time all at once. Think of several easy tasks that can be done in 10 minutes or less.

“Once you learn how to overcome procrastination, you’ll find that you’ll make more progress in your job hunt and still have time for the things in life you enjoy,” Lee says.