How to stay productive during job market downtime

Three things I focus on to sustain my career growth

Poyi Chen
4 min readJan 5


Photo by Chris Montgomery on Unsplash

The job market can slow down for many reasons. Some of the reasons are not as predictable. For example, the fallout of the pandemic is a new phenomenon and many companies did not foresee the changes in consumer behaviors until late this past year leading to companies underperforming and hiring less. Other reasons, like the job market seasonality, are expected to slow down hiring annually. During certain times of the year, such as the last quarter, more companies meet their headcount, and more employees take vacations, so hiring naturally cools off.

In any job market slow down, instead of doubling down your effort to apply for jobs or simply accepting our fate and waiting around, we may want to consider shifting our focus to other efforts in order to continue our career growth or set ourselves up for success when the job market warms up again. For your reference, below are the three main efforts I invest time in.


Self-reflection has been extremely helpful to me in checking my growth progress as well as setting goals.

Progress evaluation

Thinking back on recent (past few weeks) or long-term (past months or year) accomplishments, evaluate how well I performed and how I approached the work. Retrospective exercises often help me uncover insights into my strengths and weaknesses. These insights can either inform how I navigate similar tasks in the future or becomes a reference for how I set or redefine my career goals. The format of the exercises can vary. Some examples are:

  • At the start of the day, write down three things I did well yesterday and three things I could do better.
  • At the end of the week, write down my accomplishments and things I missed.
  • Review my yearly goal checklist

Goal setting

Defining goals helps me keep track of priorities and motivates me as I complete the goals. To make goal setting and reflection as effective as possible, each of my goals has a few layers (or metadata):

  • Goal type: Career, life, health, etc…



Poyi Chen

Designer. Career Coach. Productivity Nerd. Creator of