Monday, January 12, 2015

What do losing weight and finding a new job have in common?

Kendell Brown
Associate Director of Professional
Development in Graduate Career Services
Happy 2015!

Since it’s the start of the new year, I’m relating this post to the tradition of making resolutions. My annual resolution is to lose weight—shocking, considering it is the #1 resolution made by American adults. Perhaps it’s yours, too. The #2 resolution for American adults is to get a new job, and since you’re still reading this post, you obviously have an interest in some aspect of career management.

There is a lot of overlap between my resolution and various aspects of career management. I’ve been all over the Internet picking up tricks and tips that will help me lose the weight this year. And I’ve got to tell you, every website, celebrity trainer, and P90X success story says the same thing: Make a public commitment, set measurable goals, plan ahead, and make a lifestyle change.

Let’s take a closer look and compare a successful weight loss plan to a job search.

Making a public commitment

Weight loss: From what I’ve read, the first step in deciding to lose weight is revealing my weight loss goals to family and friends. A public announcement will make me accountable to others and create a stronger commitment to the resolution.

Job search: If you’ve resolved to get a new job this year, you should also let family and friends know.  If your brother-in-law’s company is hiring, how will he know to pass your resume along, if he doesn’t know you’re looking? And if you want to make an internal move, don’t be afraid to tell your boss.  She knows your skillset and what’s happening around the organization.

Setting measurable goals

Weight loss: If I skip lunch and dinner today, the scale reading will be less tonight than it was this morning. But a more helpful goal is: Lose 1 pound each week by eliminating soda, working out 3 times each week, and switching to Meatless Mondays.

Job search: Apply to lots of postings on—Yes, this is a goal, but it is one that will likely cause you frustration. Instead, try goals like:

  • Re-read performance reviews. This will help you understand your strengths and weaknesses.
  • Conduct two mock interviews weekly, so you’re prepared for the inevitable.
  • Research five companies per week, so you have some idea of where you’ll fit and where you won’t.
  • Create a posting for your perfect job. If a real posting doesn’t align with at least 80% of what you’ve written, don’t apply.

Planning ahead

Weight loss: It’s time for me to start packing a lunch and some healthy snacks, so I’m not tempted by the office candy jar.

Job search: If you are fortunate enough to be currently employed, now is the time to job search. There’s nothing like the luxury of time.  An effective job search (a search that results in a job that you really want) doesn’t happen overnight.  I’ve been a career coach to lots and lots of people and none of them have had a job just fall into their laps. So figure out where you want to be in 6 months or a year, and create an actionable plan to get you there.

It’s a lifestyle change

Weight loss: Ok, I’ve heard it tons of times and I’m sure you have too – no diet, workout regimen, or cleanse will lead to permanent weight loss. The only way to keep weight off is by making a lifestyle change. Cutting out Diet Coke this month, but drinking it again next month isn’t gonna do it. If you train for a half marathon, run the race and then stop running, the weight comes back (I know from personal experience).  So what I’ve come to realize is that losing weight shouldn’t be my resolution for 2015. Instead, I should focus on eating better and exercising long term.

Job search: One thing you’ll hear from GCS over and over again is the importance of networking. You know about networking, right? Getting and staying in touch with people, building a rapport with them so that when the time comes they’ll put in the right word with the right person, etc. Well, networking should not happen just when you are actively searching. Networking should happen all the time. If you are regularly in touch with people, they get to know you, your skill set, and your interests. That’s all valuable information for someone to have about you when they are thinking about whether you match up with a job they know about. Networking is the most important tool in anyone’s job search toolkit.  So networking is not a one-time thing—you should make it a lifestyle.

Kendell Brown is the Associate Director of Professional Development at the Kelley School of Business in Graduate Career Services. Kendell and her team meet and coach hundreds of students, alumni, and corporate partners on tried and true recruiting methods, interviewing tactics, and career management strategies, while staying in tune to how these areas are changing and evolving. Email Kendell at

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