Q. I am unemployed, and don’t have a manager to assign my work, my deadlines or even to set my expectations. I’m not doing a great job of holding myself accountable to anything. How do I manage my job search so that I can actually find a job? Is it really a full time job?
A: Yes, an effective job search is a full time job, and if you think you need help managing your time during the job search, then you probably do. Recruit your most organized friend or family member to help establish a schedule and plan for how you will complete job search activities each day. Even with friends to support you, you can probably benefit from job search management tools like jibberjobber.com. It's a free and easy-to-use tool that allows you to manage your job search information, activity and your career when you land your next great opportunity.
As with any full time job, you don’t spend 40 hours doing one thing. There are many projects; some are higher priority than others, and performing high value tasks is the best way to be successful. After you develop a great resume and cover letter, develop your project plan and follow it. Start and:
Set a schedule: Decide how much time you are realistically willing and able to dedicate to your job search and set a daily schedule that maps to that plan. The most successful job seekers dedicate at least 25 hours a week to job search activities and they stick to it.
Put yourself out there: Effective job seekers do not sit in front of computer all day and apply for jobs. They schedule at least three face-to-face networking meetings a week and the phone time it takes to make that happen. The more you network and sell your talents to people in person, the more memorable you will be and the more likely these contacts will refer you to others.
Get Out of the House: Laundry, rooms that need to be painted and dust bunnies may be calling you every minute you are at home. Ignore all that noise and find a job search support group. Civic and religious organizations offer these, as well as outplacement firms. Surround yourself with people doing the same kind of work.
Take a time out: Take time out during the week to schedule social time and time to enjoy not working. Schedule breaks for yourself each day to do things like exercise, read the news and eat well. As important as it is for you to be diligent in your job search, it’s also important to take the same kind of breaks you would allow yourself during a workday so that you avoid burning out.
Avoid Avoidance: It’s easy to spend time on unimportant details like the font style on your resume to avoid high-priority tasks, but committing to the hard work is what pays off; it’s a must. If you don’t like making calls to schedule networking meetings, start your day with at least 30 minutes of that activity. Avoid the trivial and easy activity, and push yourself to complete the challenging high value activity that may make you uncomfortable, but will make you employed.
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Meet the Jobs Docs
Patricia Hunt Sinacole is president of First Beacon Group LLC, a human resources consulting firm in Hopkinton. She works with clients across many industries including technology, biotech and medical devices, financial services, and healthcare, and has over 20 years of human resources experience.
Elaine Varelas is managing partner at Keystone Partners, a career management firm in Boston and serves on the board of Career Partners International.
Cindy Atoji Keene is a freelance journalist with more than 25 years experience. E-mail her directly here.
Peter Post is the author of "The Etiquette Advantage in Business." Email questions about business etiquette to him directly here.
Stu Coleman, a partner and general manager at WinterWyman, manages the firm's Financial Contracting division, and provides strategic staffing services to Boston-area organizations needing Accounting and Finance workforce solutions and contract talent.
Tracy Cashman is Senior Vice President and Partner of the Information Technology search division at WinterWyman. She has 20 years of experience partnering with clients in the Boston area to conduct technology searches in a wide variety of industries and technology.
Paul Hellman is the founder of Express Potential, which specializes in executive communication skills. He consults and speaks internationally on how to capture attention & influence others. Email him directly here.