The following is written by By Laura Thorne, Careers In Code’s Career Coach.
I’m a huge Bill Murray fan and always happy to find an excuse to quote the man. That said, what do you do when you’re facing anything big, scary, daunting, overwhelming? You take baby-steps. Baby step your way to an improved resume, polished LinkedIn Profile, outstanding portfolio.
Ok so what do I really mean? If you’re like most people trying to make your way into your first tech job, you are busy. Busy with learning code, trying to meet new people, learning code, updating your resume, fixing code, guzzling coffee, you get the picture. The thing you’re actually trying to accomplish through all of this ends up being the last thing you actually make time to do — get a job!
It’s all too easy to use your busyness as an excuse; “I’m too busy to write that email”, “submit that application”, or “update the summary on my resume”. Hence, the downward spiral of self-defeat starts to unfold. But not this time, there is a solution! We’re calling them micro-actions (if only to not get sued by one of our heroes for quoting one of the all time greatest comedies of all time).
What are micro-actions?
Micro-actions are tiny steps, infant-steps (?), that you can take once a day or once a week (once a month is probably not enough, those would be granny-steps since you’ll be an old maid before you make any progress) that will help you make real progress towards your tech career goals.
How to do this:
Instead of trying to sit down and update your resume in one sitting, just pick one smaller action you can do in a shorter period of time. Things like choose a template, update one section, have someone review it, etc. Keep the list handy so you can pull an activity from it on the fly if needed. See the list below.
When do to this:
There are a few approaches you can take to implementing the micro-action strategy depending on your work-discipline type.
- Regimented: Pick a timeframe (daily or weekly) and specified amount of time and put it on your calendar.
- Random but organized: Recognize when you have 15–20 minutes between other bigger projects and use that time to jump into micro-actions.
- Day dreamers: Set an alarm on your phone for a time of day when you will be most available for a 15–20 minute project.
Here is a list of examples by job search activity with the suggested CIC follow-up action (if you’re not in the CIC Bootcamp, use the follow-up suggestions with an accountability partner or write in a journal):
- Research 1 or more job description — submit your findings, thoughts, questions about it to LT
- Read one tech career article — submit what you learned from it
- Update 1 or more sections on LinkedIn — submit updated resume to shared folder & let LT know in Slack
- Make one connection attempt — submit why you chose that person to connect with, how you approached them, and what you hope to get out of it
- Join 1 networking group — submit why you chose that group and what you hope to get out of it
- Sign up for 1 networking or education event
- Checking events listings
- Update 1 or more sections on resume — submit updated resume to shared folder & let LT know in Slack
- Work on 1 Wowza factor option from the Wowza sheet — submit why you chose that Wowza factor and your approach to it.
- Start a list of items to add to your portfolio
- Add one item to your online portfolio
Double-down: Combine a micro-action with something you’re already doing
- If you have a meeting with a friend, mentor, coach, instructor, etc. ask them to review your resume, suggest an article, a person to meet, a company to follow.
- Diving to work? Listen to a coding podcast.
When you do get time to come up for air, by all means, catch up on whatever priority that exists or make one big leap forward, but in the meantime when things feel overwhelming, fall back to the micro-actions so that you don’t lose your momentum.
To ensure that you are making progress as opposed to spinning wheels, share the results of your micro-actions in the CIC Career-Coach channel. For example, if you have a question about the requirements for a job description you read, post it to the channel for instructors to provide answers to your questions and for the sake of your fellow cohort members.
Found something else that works for you? Share it with us! We’d love to add ideas to the list.