Yesterday I took at look at how to use SWOT analysis to boost your job search results based on Martin Seligman’s PERMA model from his 2011 best-seller, Flourish, and James Manktelow’s review. Moving on to the next element of the PERMA model, today I’d like to examine how Engagement, or creative flow, can impact your job search results.

“Flow” is the term coined by positive psychologist Mihaly Csíkszentmihályi to describe the emotional state we are in when we experience a balance between the challenge level we face when we’re doing something and the perceived skill level we can apply to that challenge. This graphic from Csíkszentmihályi’s book, Flow: The Psychology of Optimal Experience, makes this connection easy to grasp.

What does this have to do with your job search? Well, consider that, if you don’t feel challenged in your search and think you don’t have the skills needed to leverage LinkedIn, say, then you will probably feel apathetic or bored. And I don’t know about you, but when I feel apathy or boredom, I have trouble getting things done.

I mentioned LinkedIn here because it’s one of those universal tasks that job seekers need to do these days, but so few know what it is they are supposed to do once they complete their profiles. In this situation, the job seeker quickly gets bored or apathetic about LinkedIn and walks away. Not good, considering that LinkedIn is the tool 90%+ recruiters and employers are using to source candidates for open positions.

Csíkszentmihály suggests first that it’s critical to have a clear goal to work toward. Without a goal, we are aimless and feel lost. I would suggest having a series of small, manageable LinkedIn goals, for example, to help keep you focused on the search:

  • Reviewing your Inmail/invitations and processing your replies.
  • Answering an industry-related question.
  • Posting comments and resources to your groups’ discussion boards.
  • Updating your status with industry-specific key words.

Next, balance your goal focus with skill building. If you don’t know anything about LinkedIn’s “Answers” component, then read a tutorial or explore LinkedIn’s help files. Don’t avoid it just because you don’t yet know what to do – learn.

Then make sure you’re optimizing your concentration level. Don’t allow yourself to get distracted by TV, job boards, or non-search activities. You might try focusing intently on your search in 90-minute increments, then taking a 15 to 30-minute break after each work period. I follow this model in my own work and it makes a phenomenal difference.

Lastly, watch for upcoming posts on other ways to boost the creativity of your search. In the meantime, let me know what is and isn’t working in yours.

Here’s to your engagement in your search,

Cheryl Simpson