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Goal #1: secure a job

Clifford’s Notes: Focus on Your Search

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By Jerrold (Jerry) Clifford
Professional ETP Member since 2007 and Lamplighter Newsletter writer.

I would like to tell you a story about a bank robber. He planned for every detail related to the heist. He didn’t just decide to pick any bank. He chose one that would have plenty of money on hand. It was on a street that wasnt too busy and yet would have enough pedestrian traffic so he could blend into the crowd and not be noticed. It was in a neighborhood of diverse people so he didn’t have to worry about fitting in. He chose a suitable time of day and a get away vehicle. Then he put his plan into action.

He waited until the perfect time. He went to the bank and took control, getting the bank employees to put money in a bag.  In the middle of all this he decided to take a bath. This gave the authorities the opportunity they were waiting for and they were able to arrest him. When they asked him why he stopped to take a bath in the middle of a robbery he told them he wanted to make sure he could have a clean getaway!

While a humorous story, this joke reminds us that for successful completion of any plan it is important to maintain focus on the objective. This is certainly true for the job search.

While things did not go exactly as he had planned, it wasn’t the bath itself that led to his downfall. It was that he misinterpreted how an activity (taking a bath) could help accomplish his result. He had lost focus on his objective. After all, he really robbed the bank to get lots of money. All the effort he spent planning the caper was in support of this end. How the bath was really supposed to help was tangential to this focus.


Conducting a job search can be tedious and full of negativity and rejection. We may spend considerable time preparing value propositions only to find that companies don’t even bother acknowledging their receipt. Conducting a job search contains so much uncertainty and negativity, and usually they aren’t fun. We use their “importance” as a rationale to avoid the tedium, negativity, and frustration associated with job searching

Unconsciously, we may be looking for excuses to avoid this chore. Thus, when everyday life requires attention to everyday activities, we use unrelated task “importance” to them and hence spend more time than necessary to accomplish them. We lose focus. This loss of focus takes time away from executing our job search plan and can affect the time it takes to obtain a position.

Staying focused is not easy. It takes discipline and practice. It requires developing job search skills, and accomplishing tasks we may not wish to perform when we would rather be doing something more enjoyable. 

It may seem funny but to get good at focusing you really need to focus!

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