Whether you’re unemployed or just keeping an eye out for new opportunities, there are tons of tiny decisions that you have to make during a job search. But, you should be concentrating your efforts on polishing that resume, perfecting your interview skills, and expanding your network— and not changing your LinkedIn photo 10 times because you just can’t choose.
As a decision coach who helps people who can’t make up their minds, I’ve watched clients fret for days about small decisions, when they’d be better off setting up informational interviews.
So, here’s a helpful guide to dealing with the situations that come up again and again during a job search. Use these shortcuts to power through the small stuff—and save your energy for things that’ll get you that offer.
1. Should I Update My Social Profiles (Again)?
No if you just wanted to add your minor in college, even though that was five years ago. (Career-building news only, please.) Also, no if it’s 100% updated and at this point you’re just rewriting your bio each day: It’ll make you look unsure of your brand.
2. Should I Write That Recruiter Back?
Yes if you’re contemplating a career move and you see a role that piques your interest. But do your due diligence and make sure they’re legit.
No if it’s a cold email with jobs that aren’t relevant to you. Respond only to recruiters who’ve actually read your profile and paid attention to your career so far.
3. Should I Reach Out to Someone in my Network?
Yes if you have a clear ask, will acknowledge that you’re asking them to go out of their way, and follow up with a heartfelt thank you note.
No if you’re not sure what you want from them or if you don’t know them well and you’re asking for a major favor, such as introducing you to their CEO.
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4. Should I Interview for a Job I’m on the Fence About?
Yes if you genuinely think you might be interested and want to learn more about it.
No if there’s a deal-breaker, whether it’s a salary you couldn’t live on or location you wouldn’t move to listed right in the job description. Those things aren’t up for negotiation, so don’t waste everyone’s time when they’ve been up-front from the beginning.
5. Should I Wear a Suit?
Yes if it’s a formal company culture or it’s the outfit you feel most confident in.
No if when you looked at the company’s website and social profiles you saw that everyone wears jeans each day. (That doesn’t mean dress down, it just means you don’t need to dress up in a formal outfit.)
6. Should I Follow Up (Again)?
Yes if it’s the second time and you keep your email short, sweet, and to the point. Make sure you’ve left a reasonable amount of time between first and second emails.
No if you’ve followed up twice without a response. Put it behind you and move on.
7. Should I Consider a Counteroffer?
Yes if you’re genuinely undecided. Or, if pay was the main reason you sought the other offer in the first place.
No if you hate your job—there’s no amount of money that’s worth being miserable every day.
8. Should I Give My Boss More Than Two Weeks’ Notice?
Yes if you’re sure your boss won’t kick you out immediately and your new role’s open to a later start date. You might even get a better reference if you’re able to give her a long notice period. Bonus points if you can present her with a plan for leaving your projects in great shape, and/or training your replacement.
No if there’s a history of immediate dismissal. Think about what’s happened in the past when people gave more than two weeks’ notice: Was your boss grateful, or did they immediately fire the employee? Don’t risk losing pay you need if your manager hasn’t demonstrated an appropriate response to employees giving notice.
While it’s important to always weigh your choices, don’t make the mistake of spending hours trying to decide whether or not to send an email! Making efficient decisions throughout the process saves time and energy—which you can spend on actually finding that dream job.