Looking for a job can be lonely. Having someone to check in with periodically can offer emotional support and accountability. We call this person a “job search buddy.” (A job search buddy is one type of “accountability buddy” or “accountability partner.” This buddy can help you meet your goals in maintaining your exercise routine, writing a minimum number of pages, and so forth.)

For many job seekers, it is easy for weeks to turn into months without forward movement if their days are not structured. Career coaching expert Caroline Ceniza-Levine suggests that “you have either a formal accountability partner that you check in with about your job search or at least a good friend who encourages you when you need it.”

The job search buddy notion is based on a practice at my job many years ago. Each Monday afternoon, our boss would meet with his half-dozen or so direct reports to review the status of all our projects. One week, he would ask where we stood on each project; specifically, whether we were on target to meet the project’s next milestone and, if not, why not. Thus, we had to commit — to him and to our peers — to our progress in the weeks ahead. The next week, he would review our progress against those commitments.

If anyone missed a milestone, he would bore in on that failure. He was generally not very understanding about missed milestones. Even if his implementation left something to be desired, the concept was sound. Here are some thoughts about how this can work.

The buddy need not be an expert in job search or in the job seeker’s chosen field. Rather, the buddy should be calm, mature, and organized. The person doesn’t necessarily need to be a family member or a close friend, as the people closest to us may not fully understand the stress being experienced of one’s unemployment.

After an initial meeting or phone call, the job seeker and buddy will check in by phone regularly (preferably once a week). Having a set meeting schedule contributes to accountability, discouraging the job seeker from postponing the meeting if there’s little progress to report.

Each week, the job seeker will agree on a few goals to pursue during the coming week. (These goals should be specific, measurable, attainable, relevant, and time-based, as noted in the articles listed below.) The following week, they will discuss the progress made — and obstacles encountered — in achieving those goals; brainstorm on ways to overcome the obstacles; and set new goals for the following week.

Some buddies click, but others don’t. After four to six weeks, the buddies should discuss whether their partnership is working. If it is not working for either partner, no one should continue out of a sense of obligation. It’s not a negative reflection on either one.

Unless you’re making great progress on your job search, consider enlisting a job search buddy. And good luck!

For Further Reading:

Caroline Ceniza-Levine, “Stop Editing Your Resume! Ten More Productive Actions To Improve A Slow Job Search,” June 24, 2018.

Lelia Gowland, “How To Get (Or Be) A Good Accountability Buddy,” April 16, 2018

Alyssa Gregory, “SMART Goal Setting 101,” March 12, 2018

Steph Corker, “How to Be an Accountability Buddy,” January 17, 2018

Daniel Zahorsky, “5 Elements of a SMART Business Goal,” January 8, 2018

Monica Torres, “4 Crucial Steps to Finding a Job If You’ve Been Unemployed for More Than 6 Months,” June 29, 2017.