Job Search: What Stage of Change Are You In?

job search, change, job seeker

I am a certified solution-focused career specialist and have received motivational interviewing (MI) training in the last eight months. MI is used in the mental health, addictions, and social services fields. It is a facilitative way of people avoiding resistance, resolving ambivalence and inducing (positive) change. It gives back the power to individuals to make decisions in their lives. Because of MI training, I have improved my ability to really identify if there are genuine obstacles that will impair or delay an effective job search or career change.

Are obstacles preventing you from making progress in your job search? More often than not, it is the lack of intrinsic (inner) motivation that stands in our way to success, or as we say in mental health, “moving forward.” Let me highlight the stages of change, so you can see where you think you may be, concerning a job search, or returning to work.

Stages of Change

Pre-contemplative= no problem awareness; denial; NO

Example: “I won’t leave the house and connect with new people. I prefer to stay where I am.” (No feeling of discomfort).

Solution: Get feedback from a professional about your job search activities and behaviours.
Monitor your behaviour. Notice how your present behaviour is having an affect on the outcome of your job search (probably negative).

Contemplative= unsure; being stuck; MAYBE

Example: “I might do a cold call like my counsellor suggested, BUT I don’t feel confident right now.” (Ambivalence).

Solution: Work through ambivalence by looking at the costs and benefits of changing (i.e. returning to work). Reduce the costs of changing. Consider what you want to become and do. Take a small step in changing your behaviours. Think about what you value the most.

Preparation= ready; determination; motivated; YES, let’s GO!

Example: “I am willing to tweak my job search so I will get an interview in the next few weeks.” Solution: Prepare for action, preferably, with a career professional. Write down your goals, step-by-step. Commit to starting by a certain date.

Solution: Dissect your job search. Choose and commit to the best course of action.

Action= doing it; GO

Example: ” I am ready to attend job fairs, set up informational interviews and make call backs.”

Solution: Don’t stop focusing on your goals. Reward yourself for daily actions that you have taken. Plan to avoid and/or avoid expected situations that can trigger the problem behaviours.


No matter what stage you’re in, there’s a solution for you to move forward with your job search. Use these insights to think about how you can break out of your box.

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Melissa Martin

Melissa is a passionate, innovative career expert, who holds impressive credentials in the career/employment field for over 14 years. Her specialties include dealing with the unemployed, underemployed, military members, aspiring entrepreneurs and those who need “career nourishment to re-ignite themselves.”


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