Being a successful job seeker can be a challenging feat these days. When I asked for input on what to write about in this blog, I received the following request from a reader:
“I would be interested in hearing about effective uses of time when you are looking for work. How much time should be spent on internet search engines, LinkedIn, attending network marketing meetings, having one-on-one network meetings, time spent with an accountability partner, exercising, prayer/meditation, time spent not working on the job search (I feel guilty doing this), volunteering, or other valuable uses of time. Alternately, what are poor uses of time. As I go through this process, I have been advised to do everything and say ‘yes’ to everything.”
This is a GREAT question, I’m glad it was asked. Let me take a shot at answering it…
Going through the job search process is challenging. Because it’s so new to most of us, choosing how to spend our time each day/week/month can be confusing. On top of the confusion there are several pressing issues, such as:
- Our husband/wife/parents wondering when we will find a job and asking us daily what we did to accomplish that goal.
- Our own feelings of self-worth (or lack thereof). Let’s be honest, in our culture one of the first questions asked when we meet a new person is, “What do you do?” If we “don’t,” then how do we answer that question?
- Advice from everyone and their brother as to how we should navigate this time. Some examples are, “Go to everything you can,” “Put this on your resume,” “Don’t put that on your resume,” “Always wear a tie when you leave the house,” “Don’t dress too formal or people will know you are unemployed,” and so on.
- A feeling sometimes we just want to curl up in bed and avoid the whole thing.
- A desire to make the most of this time with family and friends. You may say to your self, “After all, I have a lot more free time now I don’t have work getting in the way. So, why do I feel guilty when I’m out enjoying myself with the kids?”
As someone who has helped hundreds of people successfully navigate unemployment and career transition this past year, let me share with you some of what I see to be most effective uses of your time in this process.
Most Effective Uses Of Time For A Job Seeker
Here are some good things to focus your time on during a job search:
1. Don’t Spend More Than 30 Hours Per Week Job Searching
There are physical, social and psychological effects of being on a job search that make it unproductive for us when we go past 30 hours per week. I know you are supposed to consider your job search to be a “full time job,” so for our purposes let’s consider 30 hours to be “full-time.”
2. Exercise For 20 Minutes Every Day
Go for a walk. Go to the gym. Play with your kids on the jungle gym. Exercise is good for clearing out the brain and increasing energy.
3. Don’t Spend More Than 37 Minutes Per Day On The Computer
Likewise, DON’T go online during daylight hours. Think about it, if 80% of jobs are found through some form of networking, then you should spend at least 80% of your time networking. The internet will be there when you get home, after everyone is in bed. Heck, you are probably going to be awake at 3:00 this morning anyway. If you spend the whole day online, what will you have to do when you wake up in the middle of the night?
4. Have A Networking Strategy And Stick To Your Plan
This is tricky, because your plan should evolve as you progress in your job search. I would recommend early on in your search you attend lots of events where other job seekers hang out. These are great places to meet new people, develop and practice your elevator pitch, and get some support.
However, within 6-8 weeks you want to begin moving AWAY from those kinds of events to places where potential employers and people close to potential employers hang out. The former of these events will usually be free. The latter may cost you something. That’s why you want to work out the bugs in your verbal and printed “brand image” in the early stages of your job search. And yes, this means you will say “no” to some things. You want to be strategic!
5. Get An Accountability Partner
Plan to check in once a week for at least an hour. Take notes and hold each other accountable for goals set at the previous meeting. Choose wisely. To be successful at this you need to choose someone who will kick your butt — not be your friend.
Least Effective Uses Of Time For Job Seekers
Don’t waste your precious time on these job search activities:
1. Spending Time On The Internet Job Boards
Less than 6% of all available jobs are posted on these boards. If you were digging for gold, wouldn’t you want to spend your time in a place where other people have found gold rather than someplace where the prospects for finding gold are shallow? Well guess what… you ARE digging for gold! The best place to find it is through your network of friends and colleagues.
2. Writing/Revising Your Resume (Or Your LinkedIn Profile/Visual CV )
Yeah, I know, you NEED a resume. It needs to be polished and professional. However, your resume is a dynamic, living document. It will need to be revised continuously throughout your career. Work on it a little at a time and track your improvement. Besides, YOU are your best resume, so get out there and show people what you have to offer!
3. Paying For Someone To Write Your Resume
Unless you are a high level executive commanding a 7-figure salary, you can do this on your own. If you feel the need to pay someone, pay them to coach you how to write a quality resume. You are going to go through the job search process again in the future, so this is a skill that is worth learning as best you can! Besides, the tools you use to write a resume will be extremely helpful in interviews, and it’s pretty tough to get a professional resume writer to go with you to an interview!
This is just a beginning list of how to structure your job search efforts. The key to being a successful job seeker is to have a strategic plan with specific goals you can track and measure each day/week.
Enjoy this article? You’ve got time for another! Check out these related articles:
- 3 Keys To A Successful Job Search
- How To Troubleshoot Your Job Search Problems
- The Secret ‘Sauce’ to Any Job Search
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