Even with the best intentions, job search candidates can be their own worst enemy if they lose focus on their goal.

Industry intelligence has it that the average executive job search is currently 23 months long. This may not be the case in your area, as some individual regions have not suffered as drastically as the national job market and other specific areas. The more general rule of thumb is that an executive candidate can count on searching one month for every $10,000 in targeted salary.

Even so, staying focused for what could be one to two years during a job search is monumental. Here are some tips to help keep job seekers going during that time:

Stick with your goal: First, a candidate must define the goal succinctly. If the goal in mind is simply "the next step," "a VP position," or, as time goes on, "anything in my field," the outcome is likely to be as vague. The job may or may not fit you. It may not pay you enough. It may require travel that you don't want. First, decide basic requirements that will not be compromised. Then, decide what can be the trade-offs.

Stay encouraged: One of the most common symptoms of a job search is discouragement and sometimes even depression. A negative attitude is magnified if the job change wasn't the candidate's idea. It can take months to work through the grief, anger, and depression of a job loss, and many people can't or don't want to wait through the emotions to begin their search. The biggest issue is to actually work through them rather than burying them beneath a steely exterior or a they-done-me-wrong victimhood. It happened. Allow one period of time per day to grieve. Grow from it. The rest of each day contains all of the actions toward your goal. When discouragement creeps in, write down 10 things worth gratitude. If you can't think of any, seek psychological therapy.

Chart progress: Progress is encouraging in itself. Let it spur you on to more creative ideas for your search. Measure your efforts in the number of contacts you make and in the results they produce.

Find an accountability partner: For most, this is the key. This is the person you talk with regularly, perhaps even daily, to ask you if you did your homework. Choose them wisely. This must be someone who will not let you off the hook. They may have empathy but not sympathy. They may be a friend or relative, but only if they are more supportive of your achievement than with your emotions. They must be willing to kick your butt.

If you're not sure you have anyone fitting that bill, contact a career coach. This is what they do. A career coach is trained to tell when you're feeling sorry for yourself and can tell you gently but firmly to knock it off. Your golf buddy may not. A career coach is trained to ask leading questions so that you discover paths you need and want. Your lunch bunch may have other agendas.

For genuine accountability, a career coach is your best bet.

Author's Bio: 

Jeri Hird Dutcher, Workwrite, inspires executives and professionals to envision, attract, and achieve their biggest dreams. She is certified as a Professional Career Coach, Resume Writer, and Employment Interview Professional. Jeri provides career / job search coaching and targeted resumes for clients in the United States and Canada. She welcomes inquiries at Workwrite.net.