Career Transition: Benefits of Accountability Partners

Minda White RedburnMinda Redburn, MA
Lifelong Career Options
Minda is an experienced coach, career development specialist and personal counselor. Her passion is in working with people who want to make positive changes in their work lives by finding work that fits. Minda has expertise in helping her clients become aware of and work through the inner and outer obstacles that may prevent them from achieving their greatest satisfaction in their work and career.

Why Have an Accountability Partner?

  • You get more accomplished faster on an important project – like your job search, plus you have the satisfaction of helping out another person.
  • Try this if you find yourself delaying, procrastinating, and distracting.
  • When you’re employed, your job gives you a structure of accountability that helps you get your work done.  You can create this same structure for yourself when you’re not employed, to help you get employed again.
  • When you have a structure, someone who’s expecting you, and an important task that gets you out of bed, you will find this helps a great deal with the unemployment blues.

How Does it Work?

  • State a project objective:  For example, I will do everything I can to get a job very soon as a Program Manager at an environmental non-profit in Portland.
  • Set up regular check-ins and meetings to plan next steps, get help, and to hold each other accountable for completing your action steps and goals, and ultimately, your projects.
  • Treat your project the same way you would treat a real job.  Someone is monitoring and reviewing your performance, and there are real consequences if you don’t accomplish your objective (ie., you lose your house if you don’t get a job soon. Really.).

Who to Ask to be your Accountability Partner

  • NOT a family member, love interest, or spouse, or a close friend.  These folks are used to cutting you some slack and loving you anyway if you screw up.
  • Instead, consider asking a professional acquaintance, whose good opinion of you is important to you.  For example:
    • Someone who does (or aspires to) the same the same profession or work but in a different industry.
    • Someone you enjoyed meeting at a class, networking activity, or professional meeting.
    • A former co-worker you like and respect.
    • A new acquaintance you’d like to get to know better.
    • Consider asking someone who also has an important project to accomplish, and who could use some help with structure and accountability.

When to Hold Meetings with your Accountability Partner

Three possible formats:

  • Daily phone check-ins – plan to talk the same time each day, and then make it happen.  I recommend taking the weekend off without calls, since you are treating this project like a real job, remember?
  • Periodic face to face meetings – weekly is good, but personally I like every 10 days.
  • A combination of the two.

How to Define your Accountabilities

For each meeting, by phone or in person, define a concrete action step, or a SMART goal.  It should be Specific, Measurable/observable, Actionable, Relevant, Time-limited, for example,

  • A goal for a weekly meeting with a deadline:  I will complete a 1.5 page resume for a non-profit Program Manager job to show you at our meeting next Friday.
  • An action step for a daily check-in phone call:  By tomorrow, I will call my neighbor Angie, who works at the Oregon Environmental Council, and ask for a meeting to find out what Program Managers do at her organization.
  • A one-day action step can be completed in 20 minutes or less, and a goal for a weekly meeting takes longer – both are SMART.
  • IMPORTANT:  Choose something that is hard to do, that you might not get done without some extra support.



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