Job Search and Housecleaning: An Odd Couple?

I am not necessarily recommending that you start your job search planning by literally cleaning your house, but the combination of the two activities is not such an odd couple as you might think at first. Whether you are the kind of person who finds housecleaning (or cleaning in general) therapeutic–I am not!–you could find it useful to consider some of the key aspects of housecleaning and how those might translate to an effective job search. Bear with me for a few moments–there really is a method to my madness.

What Job Searching and Housecleaning Have in Common

Job searching and housecleaning actually have several aspects in common. Here are just a few:

  • You will find it difficult, if not impossible, to do a good job of housecleaning with the least amount of effort required to achieve that if you start without a clear, achievable goal in mind. And, no, a spotlessly clean house that will stay in great shape for a long time is not that goal.

    By the same token, landing the job of a lifetime that you will love–and keep–forever is most likely not a realistic goal for your job search. Doesn’t mean the stars couldn’t miraculously align and drop it in your lap; just don’t pin all your hopes on that! Set a goal you are willing to work for.

  • While spring cleaning has long been an accepted concept for one’s home, my preference is for end-of-the-year cleaning and organizing. Even if the Christmas holidays tend to be frantic where you are, there’s usually a breathing space after the holiday and before the new year festivities begin.

    That short break can be a good time to take stock of what most needs to be done and the steps required to make it happen by the first of the year. This is true both for your living space and for your job search. Take advantage of the opportunity.

  • Having the right tool for the job is essential. For example, you can waste a lot of time and not accomplish much if you try to clean the floors with a toothbrush and a glass of water!

    In the case of your job search, the tool could be something as basic as a good working computer with the capability to search for job possibilities, connect with key people on LinkedIn, research companies and places to live where you want to work, and more. It might also, of course, be something even more essential, such as making sure you have access to your critical documents (performance reviews, your updated resume, etc.) and don’t have them out of reach–on your computer at work (your resume should never be there anyway).

  • Reaching perfection is probably unattainable; keeping it in the unlikely event that you can reach it is even farther out of reach. The house won’t stay clean on its own, for one thing. However, if you work consistently on minimizing the buildup of clutter and establishing some kind of routine, keeping it clean becomes easier.

    In your job search, this translates into steps such as organizing the materials and the work space you can dedicate to conducting the search, tracking your “to do” list so you stay on top of critical actions, and treating the job search as a job in itself–that is, with a firm commitment to persevering until you reach your goal.

Job Search and Housecleaning–A Word of Caution

Resist the temptation to clean house as a way to avoid focusing on your job search. Some people would rather clean house–or even go to the dentist–than work on their job search essentials. If you’re inclined to be one of those, remind yourself that a clean house won’t pay its own mortgage!

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