Summertime, And The Living Is … Distracting!

When you are looking for work, you always face a lot of distracting temptations.  But during the summer months, when the temperatures warm up, it becomes harder to concentrate.  It seems that everyone else is doing fun stuff and there are so many places you’d rather be than in front of your computer looking for job leads and working on resumes and cover letters.  Because you need to find work, you know you should maintain your focus in spite of all the distractions of the season.  While you still must allot time to do your job search, you can still schedule and coordinate your time to accommodate summer fun with family and friends.
Years ago when we were more or less dependent on the newspaper for our job leads, we had to do job search during the day.  We didn’t have voice mail or email, Twitter or Facebook accounts for direct communication that was not time dependent as we do today.  Back then if you wanted to get a message to a hiring manager or recruiter, you had to call during regular business hours, and if the person with whom you wanted to speak was not available, you had to leave your message with a receptionist or secretary.
Today, because of all the messaging and document delivery options you can do your job search at any hour that suits you.  The real trick is remaining effective and committed to your search during “non business hours”.  Want to be out all day?  Make time to do your company and contact research during the evening hours, rather than settling in and watching TV or playing on the computer.   Resumes and cover letters will not write themselves, nor send themselves out without your participation.  Leave time to customize your documents to reflect the relevance of your skills and experience to the jobs you are applying for, and send them out.
Here are some suggestions for taking care of your job search and not feel like you are missing out on all the fun.

  • You must let others know that you have responsibilities.  Hopefully they will be sensitive to your time constraints and recognize the importance of your being productive.  If you have children, be clear and firm that you need time to take care of personal responsibilities, and you will give them your undivided attention at a particular time, with specific activities in mind.
  • Schedule and prioritize your time.  Put aside specific hours to do your job search, and keep that commitment.  For example, if your plan is to work on your search between 5 & 7 pm while dinner is being prepared, then make sure you are ready to sit down and do your job search related tasks at that time.  If you need to break up those tasks into smaller, more compartmentalized blocks of time, so be it, no problem.  Just keep to your schedule.  Do your searching in the early morning, and sending out of your documents and correspondence later in the day, upon your return.
  • If you need to make calls to people about work during normal business hours, where ever you are, excuse yourself, find a quiet place to talk, and make your calls.  Keep your calls brief and focused so that you don’t leave family or friends waiting around too long.  But because your job search is a priority, let others know what you must do and ask for their cooperation.
  • Receiving calls related to your job search while you are out and about can be problematic at any time, regardless of whom you are with.  If you’re in a really noisy environment, let your voice mail take the call and return it later when you can be in a quieter location more conducive to business.  Recruiters and hiring managers like to feel that they have your complete attention when they call, and they should get that from you.  You could take the call, but explain that you’re out and unable to give the call the attention it deserves, and schedule time for a more professional interaction, and call them back when you say you will.
  • Take advantage of networking opportunities while out and about.  Collect names and contact info of those you meet.  You never know if they can help you in your job search.  And always remember to follow up.

Keeping your focus on your job search while you’re trying to schedule some seasonal fun is not rocket science.  It just takes some planning and commitment.  Draw the line between productive job search and play time, and keep that obligation.  If you keep your distractions at bay, you’ll have a summertime that is productive, and hopefully job producing.   Now get out there, and enjoy your summer.  Don’t forget the sun block!
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