Just the other day I received this email from a friend:
“Kate, I have to get my résumé together, but after 8 years, it’s such a daunting task. I took this week off to get it done and I’ve all but re-built my back deck, re-hung light fixtures, and fixed a toilet. Why can’t I do something as simple as update my resume? Gawd… any tips to get over this writer’s block? Where to start? Imagine, I’d rather fix a toilet!!!“
I found the email very amusing and, I am sure, it’s something everyone can relate to.
This is classic procrastination; actively distracting ourselves when facing difficult tasks that we would rather avoid, such as writing a résumé.
The reasons for procrastination vary but it often just boils down to fear. However, it is also habit that, like any other habit, can be broken and replaced with the more rewarding habit of taking action.
Here are some suggestions to help with résumé procrastination:
- Make a list of all the benefits of completing the résumé. Think about your goal to get a job and list the pay-offs and rewards. This may be enough to motivate you and get the ball rolling.
- Set goals and reward yourself along the way.
- If the mere thought of summarizing your talents and experience in bullet points is enough to inspire you to rebuild a back deck or fix a toilet, I’d suggest breaking the résumé writing down into smaller tasks. Instead of trying to update it in one sitting, work on one section at a time: objectives, experience, skills, education, publications, awards etc.
- Set a specific time aside every day in order to tackle the résumé. Try to schedule it during a time of the day when your energy is highest.
- Try making yourself accountable to someone for getting that task done. Perhaps “partner up” with someone else: make a commitment to each other, agree on deadlines and check in with each other to make sure the task is done. Making a firm commitment to someone else can make a big difference to your motivation levels. If eligible (Ontario resident, unemployed and needing assistance with job search), consider accessing the services of an Employment Counsellor at one of our JVS Employment Source locations, who will work with you to write the résumé.
- Once completed, enlist the help if others to look over your résumé for feedback, suggestions and to catch any typos. Staff at our Employment Source locations also offer résumé critiques, so take advantage of this service and have a professional take a good look at your résumé .
Bottom line, as Charles Baudelaire said: “No task is a long one but the task on which one dare not start. It becomes a nightmare.” To end procrastination and avoid the nightmare of an incomplete résumé, motivate yourself by (a) remembering your ultimate goal (i.e. the job, rather than résumé), (b) developing a plan, and (c) getting support to implement your plan.