Procrastinating on your career planning?

Are you guilty of putting off your career planning? I have some sympathy. I’ve been meaning to write this particular blog post for over two weeks now, but each time I’ve sat down to write it, I’ve somehow found something else to do.

There are key reasons why we may put off doing things. In the case of my blog post,  it’s the fear of the post not being good enough and that no one will read it. The longer I leave it, the greater the self-doubt becomes and with it the greater the temptation to do something else instead. I could invest my time in something where I am likely to get guaranteed payback – read an interesting article , or get involved in a diversionary activity, such  as on-line shopping.

Why do we procrastinate?

1. Self-doubt

As with the example above. Perhaps that as I’m not a “proper” writer, why would anyone take me seriously? So if I don’t try, I won’t fail. In the case of job applications, perhaps you might feel that you don’t have exactly the right experience. Do you know others that you consider more capable than you, who have applied for the same opportunity and not succeeded – why bother to apply? So this becomes your justification for not bothering and a self-fulfilling prophesy. As Erica Jong puts it,

“We are so scared of being judged that we look for every excuse to procrastinate.”

The solution?

Well- here I am, being brave enough to have a go at writing this post and letting go of my insecurities in order to share something that I hope at least a few people may find helpful. It’s only by trying, getting feedback and trying again that we learn. Remember- there is no such thing as failure- only feedback. Seek help and support from careers staff to help you get ‘unstuck.’ Once you make a start the task itself becomes less daunting.  Watch our film clips on how to develop your self-confidence.


2. Perfectionism

excellence_just_ahead300If I had a pound for every student I have seen who was waiting until they were sure that they were applying for the right opportunity, I’d be a wealthy woman. Perhaps here too, it’s the feeling you may be judged by others if you get it wrong. However what if you are offered the perfect job and soon after discover that it’s not all you’d hoped it would be?

The solution?

The best any of us can hope for is that what we start with feels OK and that we navigate from there once we’ve gained some experience. Experience- whether good or bad – is a great way to start to focus on what might be a better fit. No experience is ever wasted.

Many Warwick alumni who come back to campus to meet current students don’t tell you they got it right first time. Many will have found  themselves in jobs they had no idea even existed when they were at Uni. Perhaps they started something and it didn’t work out, so they applied for something else and changed direction- and that turned out to be a good thing. Many graduates will have changed employers within a couple of years after they leave Warwick. So get some work experience, try jobs out and move towards your best fit as you increase your understanding of who you are and what’s important to you. Read my post – Fix me up with my perfect job

3. Feeling overwhelmed

Shot of a young businesswoman holding up a white flag and looking defeated

The whole process of applying for graduate jobs can be overwhelming. It’s time-consuming and if you aren’t quite sure why you’re applying then recruiters are likely to pick up on this. That’s likely to mean your don’t get short- listed, a dispiriting experience, leading to self-doubt (see point 1 above) and then, unsurprisingly, to inertia.

If you feel that you need to have a career idea before getting started, this may mean you don’t feel able to take action.

The solution?

Ironically it is a commonly held assumption that you should have a career idea before you meet with a careers consultant, when in fact the opposite is true. You don’t need a career idea to see one of us. You simply need to be willing and or anxious- either is fine-to come and start the conversation. Just say:

“I’d like to get started on career planning but I’m finding it overwhelming.  I’m not sure where to start.”

That’s good enough to explore how we can help you get started. By taking small steps we can discuss what’s important to you, taking into account your interests, values and motivations. Small steps are manageable and more easily achieved and you’ll be more motivated to take them.

Career success is whatever you want it to be. We don’t judge you; what’s important is that you are happy with the choices you make and that as you progress through your career, you feel able to change your direction and your priorities. Just take that first small step!

4.  Fear of change

new_chapter_ ahead300Sometimes students will put off the inevitable fact that university will one day come to an end.  Some students apply for a Master’s course to procrastinate and to put off career decision making for a further year. If you’re studying something you’e passionate about, or where you need a Post Graduate qualification to progress into a specific career this may be reason enough. However if it’s simply to buy more time, then this could be a very expensive way to spend both your time and energy- especially if you don’t know whether you will need your qualification! Many recruiters don’t differentiate between a degree and masters qualification for graduate scheme entry. They’ll be more interested in your work experience and relevant skills, so don’t make assumptions that extra study will automatically be advantageous.

The solution?

That means taking responsibility for researching into possible courses and finding out where former students have gone afterwards. You might contact universities to find this out before deciding whether to sign up. If you’re simply putting off the inevitable it may be helpful to see a Careers Consultant (see 3, above).

Finally, for those Warwick students about to embark on your Finals, we offer you free careers support once you’ve graduated as well as while you’re still on campus. There really is no excuse!  If you haven’t managed to sort out your career whilst you are at University, and the thought of juggling applications and your exams is sending you into meltdown, then there’s still time and support even once you’ve graduated.


“Everybody has to start somewhere. You have your whole future ahead of you. Perfection doesn’t happen overnight.”  Haruki Murakami


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