As a job seeker, it is vital to your success to structure your week. Otherwise, you’ll find yourself derailed or squandering precious time.
Some of us are better at this than others. I fall into the “not as good as I should be” camp, I’ll admit.
What I have found is that the week’s when I’ve structured my time, I feel 100 times more productive and more satisfied! So the trick is to maintain this scheduling momentum.
When you were working, you had deadlines, meetings, and defined activities you needed to schedule. However, as a job seeker, it’s easy to find yourself distracted by home improvement projects, running errands and taking care of other long-neglected projects.
What I’m suggesting is that you structure your job search like you structured your time at work.
Monday – Friday, 8am – 5pm with breaks. Of course, if you prefer 9-6 or some other schedule, that’s fine, just hold to it.
Whatever you do, DO NOT exceed 35 hours a week and do not work through the weekend. This will lead to burnout.
First, you need a calendar!
It is amazing how many folks use a notepad. How’s that working for you? Paper or electronic, get a calendar and carry it with you at all times.
Always schedule events and meetings
If you have appointments, meetings, or events, put them on the calendar. It’s easy to double-book yourself if you don’t have everything on the calendar, trust me!
Plan to announce on LinkedIn you’ll be attending events, ask if anyone else is going, and build some buzz.
Block 1-hour increments of time for these activities:
- Networking Time: One on one meetings
- Email time: Respond to emails and send emails
- Phone time: Make followup calls, return messages
- LinkedIn Time: Use LinkedIn to post updates, comment on posts, respond to group conversations, research target companies or people, write recommendations
- Knowledge Update Time: Read industry newsletters, local newspapers
- Online Application Time: Apply for jobs online
- Me Time: For your well-being include volunteer activities, exercise, hobbies or interests every day.
Blocking Time = Accountability
Just blocking time for designated activities will help hold you accountable.
You know, every week, you should be networking, following up on applications, and other activities. But it’s easy to fall back on surfing the job boards because you feel productive.
Fight the temptation to waste time searching for jobs that probably aren’t a fit anyway.
Focus On Proactive Job Search Strategies
Remember to focus your time and energy being proactive (searching for opportunities not yet posted). Begin by researching people and companies on your target list. (Learn more about using a personal marketing plan).
Identify people who work for companies you are interested in, then find people who can introduce you to these insiders and reach out to introduce yourself and ask for a conversation.
This doesn’t always feel as productive, however, let me remind you that 50+% of jobs are filled by referrals, not job postings (which only account for about 10-15% of new hires)! See the proof here.
You want to be out of your house as much as possible. (You won’t meet people or learn about opportunities sitting at home) So schedule “computer-related” activities early in the morning (before 8am) or late in the day (after 5pm).
Notice all the white space? Free time? That’s the perfect opportunity to schedule face to face meeting time!
And don’t forget to put time on your calendar for practicing for job interviews. Do this NOW rather than cramming at the last minute.
Don’t give up too soon. Try this for at least 30 days. Forming new habits take time.
Use my recommended blocks of activities before you create your own. Broader is better. It gives you flexibility. You don’t want to micromanage your time or feel overwhelmed.
We’ve all managed our time in the workplace, you just need to put structure around your job search.
And here’s another look at a Job Search Calendar on Google.
Hannah Morgan speaks and writes about job search and career strategies. She founded CareerSherpa.net to educate professionals on how to maneuver through today’s job search process. Hannah was nominated as a LinkedIn Top Voice in Job Search and Careers and is a regular contributor to US News & World Report. She has been quoted by media outlets, including Forbes, USA Today, Money Magazine, Huffington Post, as well as many other publications. She is also author of The Infographic Resume and co-author of Social Networking for Business Success.