When you are working, there is a lot of structure to your day. You generally know how long it will take you to get out of bed and out of the house, the length of your commute, and what you might be doing on your job. But when you are looking for work, constructive time management is of the utmost importance. Not managing your time wisely can sabotage an otherwise effective search.
Do job search activities take any less time today than they did just a few years ago? It wasn’t that long ago when you grabbed a local newspaper and scoured the want ads for announcements of jobs you could do. After identifying jobs of interest, you would make necessary adjustments to your resumes and cover letters to make them relevant to the jobs you were applying for, and email or fax them out.
These days we scour job announcements that come directly to us. Some have been tweeted by companies and personal contacts we select, or they are sent to our inboxes from registered subscription listings that we have solicited. Newspapers offer fewer and fewer job announcements, and many jobs never appear on the big job boards. (But you should still spend some time with job boards that specialize in listing jobs from your field of interest.)
But today you can respond to job announcements much quicker; it’s easier to research the companies where you apply; and you might not have to leave home for your interview. In these cases, there is some time savings.
A job search should be as efficient as possible. When clients ask me how they should structure their days, I make a few basic recommendations.
Don’t be frivolous with your time.
You can not effectively concentrate on your tasks if there are too many things competing for your brain’s attention.
Find a reasonably quiet place to work and let your family know that you don’t want to be disturbed for a specific amount of time. If you can’t work from home because of too many distractions and disruptions, go to the library or a coffee shop.
Turn off all unnecessary input. No TV, radio, MP3 player, streaming media device etc.
Only check your email a 3-4 times a day.
Ignore text messages unrelated to your job search.
Let incoming phone calls from your friends go to your voicemail and return the calls later in the day.
Sign out of Facebook, Instagram, Pinterest, YouTube, etc. “I’ll just respond to this one message,” can turn into long sessions that eat up your day. If you use Facebook or LinkedIn for your job search, by all means continue to do so, but don’t allow your social networking to become the time-suck that keeps you from accomplishing your goals.
Spend at least half of your time looking for appropriate job leads and researching the companies, their management and staff, and key projects to which you might contribute.
Invest however much time it takes to send out the best versions of your resumes, cover letters and applications you possibly can.
Schedule some time each week trying to personally reach employers and the people who make hiring decisions. It’s better to leave a voice mail than make no contact at all. Use LinkedIn or other professional industry-specific networking site to find names and contact information. Trade publications are also a good source of relevant information.
Networking should also be a major part of your agenda. Try to attend at least one networking event a month or more. Your location and industry will frequently determine the availability of events to attend. These should include live lectures, job fairs, conferences and other occasions where you can become personally acquainted with decisions makers and thought leaders.
Lastly, and equally important, is scheduling time for exercise and other mentally and physically stimulating activities that have nothing directly to do with your job search. This isn’t to say that your participation in recreational pursuits can’t become networking opportunities, because they can. But you should tune out the search for part of day because constant obsessing over your search will only cause depression and a lack of effectiveness, which you want to avoid at all costs.
An effective job search does take a lot of effort, but it does not have to be a full time job! If you give your job search a minimum of three to four honest, uninterrupted hours at least three days per week, you should be reasonably effective at getting your applications in front of the right people. And this will also increase the likelihood of positive responses to those submissions; meaning a job offer. That is the ultimate goal of your time management. Right?
For more information on time management, your job search and career development, please search this blog and visit: hanklondon.com