Getting a Job can kind of be, well, a full-time job! Whether you’re unemployed and have some newly less-structured time, or your still employed and trying to fit in a job search around your already full schedule, being organized is a critical part to a successful job search.
MANAGE YOUR JOB SEARCH TIME:
For the people who are making finding a new job their number one priority, job search activity can take up a lot of time. And if you’re also in an unstructured time situation, it can seemingly fill a whole day. But is that the right way to spend your time, just searching job boards all day? It can for sure not only zap your energy and feel like you’re going nowhere, but you also may be spending too much time on the wrong things.
Yes, you want to treat this like a job, with plans and goals and the activities you know will generate opportunities. Some of that is searching job boards, some of that may be spending time on LinkedIn, and some of it really should be on networking and meeting people. Why? It is estimated that 70% of all jobs are never published on publicly available websites and as much as 80% are filled through personal and professional connections.
If you’re spending all your time just looking at job boards, you’re hyperfocusing on the same small amount of available jobs that everyone else has access to, and missing out on all the rest. Organize your time to make the most of it.
Managing your time to make sure you’re hitting ALL the points can help you keep your activity covering multiple basis AND break up the monotony and hopelessness that can come from hitting “refresh” on all the job boards all day. Some ways to manage your time and energy:
- Set a specific schedule for the time you’re going to spend on this work. Like any job, have a start time and an end time.
- Establish daily and weekly goals and plans for what you’ll accomplish.
- Use a calendar to layout your plan for the week.
- Work in chunks of time and take breaks. Once you’re on a roll in your job search, you can probably see all the newly posted roles on your favorite job boards in less than an hour. Don’t get lost in a whole morning of re-reading jobs you’ve already seen
- Use the tools to automate your search. Set up searches for your target roles on the job boards so they’re emailing them to you.
- Build in time for job boards, LinkedIn engagement with your network, and outreach calls or emails every day or several days a week.
- Find a partner for accountability. Let them know how you plan on spending your time and what your goals are, and report back to them to help keep you accountable and honest with yourself on the work you know you want to be doing.
- End the “work day” and maintain a more typical schedule when you can, signing off when it’s time for meals and the end of the day. Your mental health will thank you.
TRACK YOUR JOB SEARCH ACTIVITY:
When you start, it can be easy to think, “I won’t be looking for too long” or “I’ll remember what I’m doing” and coming to the conclusion that tracking your activity isn’t that important. Maybe you’re applying for unemployment, who will want some records of your activity, and thinking that you don’t need to capture that much. One of the most common regrets I hear from my clients is, “I wish I’d taken better notes along the way of what I’ve been doing and who I’ve been talking to.“
People find they lose track of things, forget to follow up with people, and feel uncomfortable reaching out “after all this time”, and so things fall through the cracks. Track ALL your activity, even if you’re not feeling like there is that much going on, because when it picks up, it will feel impossible to recreate the past and catch up.
Starting a spreadsheet or even a list of some of the most important activities can not only help you keep track of what you’ve been doing, it can help you set up reminders and “next step” actions for any follow up conversations you need to have. What kind of information should you be jotting down?
- jobs you’ve applied for: Title, company, How you found out about it, the requisition number associated with it, the date you applied.
- jobs you’re interviewing for (a subset of the list above): Who contacted you first and when and how, who you’re meant to interview with (name, title), and when. After the interview: key questions they asked, questions you asked THEM, when you sent your email thank you, and what you know next steps to be. If you didn’t get the job, when you last heard from them about it.
- people you’ve met through networking: Name, company, contact info, how you know them/were introduced to them, topics you discussed, and additional names they gave you to meet. Dates you spoke, met, or corresponded. Items they told you they’d get back to you about, like additional names or job opportunities. When you should follow up with them next. If you’re connected with them on LinkedIn.
- people you hope to network with: Name, company, contact info, how you know them/were introduced to them. Questions you have for them or topics to discuss with them. When you’ve contacted them and how, and if you haven’t heard back, when you’ll follow up.
PREPARE YOUR JOB SEARCH MATERIALS:
When you’re not working on applying and outreach, make sure you’re getting all your career marketing materials in a good place. What should get your attention?
- Resume – develop yours, get some feedback from trusted friends, or hire a resume writer to help
- LinkedIn – get your profile in a good spot, expand your connections, and engage with your network
- Cover Letter – have a good shell in place that you can customize for each opportunity
- Networking Introduction Email – write a solid introduction email with an ask for time to connect that you can use when a new name comes your way
- Networking Thank you/ Follow Up Email – have a solid follow up you can customize after each new meeting to summarize conversations, outline any follow ups either of you have, and establish what any next steps might be (like providing some networking names for you)
- Interview Thank You/Follow Up Email – when the interviews start, you don’t want to be caught with writer’s block on a prompt thank you email! Have a shell ready to go that you can customize to refer to your specific conversation and thoughts about the opportunity.
When you have your materials in a good place, you’re more able to respond quickly to opportunities to apply, interview, or network. Sometimes in a job search, the ability to get to something quickly makes a difference.
Being organized in a job search is a bit of an art and a science. Have the basics and tools in place as outlined here, but know your own energy and what motivates you to get and stay focused. Pay attention to those tasks you seem to keep avoiding; you might find there are things that are making you uncomfortable, like reaching out to a stranger or contacting someone for a favor. When you find something making you uncomfortable, make it the priority for that day, knowing that avoiding those tasks isn’t going to make your next opportunity arrive sooner!