By Debora Weisbacher, Career Coach, Career Services
Good question! Today the typical job hunter is spending an average of 18-40 minutes per day on this task. Here’s the harsh reality: for most, this is nowhere near enough time to do the many tasks needed to land the job you desire.
Look at it this way: if you are currently unemployed, looking for a job is your new full time job. The time you spend doing a job search is an investment in yourself and your career. So you need to think of your job search as a structured, real job. That means devoting 5-8 hours per day, during business hours, 5 days a week, with an hour off for lunch each day. Finding a job is hard work, and you want to do everything in your power to make that new position happen. The good news: If you can stick to this plan and apply for 5-10 job opportunities per day, you are more likely to find a job much sooner.
If you are underemployed and have less time to devote to your job search, then you must use your limited time more wisely. You will still need to do the same tasks as your unemployed counterparts, just more efficiently. Your mission, if you choose to accept it, is to clarify your career goals, skills, values, strengths; research and identify openings and opportunities; develop your cover letters and resume; apply online and network to find hidden opportunities; prepare for interviews and follow up with hiring managers– and to do all of this with persistence in an enthusiastic, professional and organized manner. That means for the underemployed, spending 10-15 hours per week may be your formula for success in finding a better position.
Plan Your Day
Make a schedule and stick to it. Keep a calendar with appointments and deadlines. Perhaps keep a tally of all your job search activities and accomplishments each week. If you are not attaining the results you desire, change your strategy the next week.
Sure, it is tempting to go to bed late, then sleep in and stay in your pajamas all day. Even if your work space is in your home, it’s a good idea to dress for work each day, to maintain a routine. Just dressing the part puts you in a better frame of mind where you think of yourself as a professional engaged in the work world. You will also be prepared in case you get called on short notice to interview with an employer.
You will work smarter if you don’t spend all your time at home where you may be distracted or tempted to do other activities unrelated to your job search. Working online is necessary, but getting out of the house to go to the library or some other public place could be an even better use of your time and may lead you to serendipitous opportunities. Set aside time daily or weekly to network with your contacts. It is also helpful to check in with an accountability partner, take a workshop to refresh your interview or computer skills, or join a support group or job club.
Try to spend time each day doing physical exercise. Whether you enjoy going to the gym, taking a walk, swimming or some other activity, exercise will help you feel energized and ready to meet the day’s challenges. Eat nutritious meals and snacks to preserve your health, and give yourself something to look forward to by taking breaks.
Don’t Give Up
In today’s economy, it’s easy to get frustrated and maybe resentful if you aren’t finding a job quickly. Perhaps you’re finding it difficult to discipline yourself to make or stick to a plan each day and each week. There are many different styles of carrying out an effective job search and you may have to find your own rhythm. The more important question to consider may not be how much time are you spending on your job search, but are you using your time wisely?
If you feel discouraged and have hit a brick wall as you are looking for a job, consider consulting a professional such as a Career Coach. If you have applied and gotten no interviews, or if you’ve been interviewed but received no offers, a Career Coach can help by analyzing your cover letters or your resume, or doing some role-playing or mock interviewing to see where you need assistance. Getting professional advice might offer just the boost in self-confidence that you need to go out into the job search jungle and conquer the beast!
By Debora Weisbacher, Career Coach, Career Services, Jewish Community Services, Baltimore, MD
JCS offers a full range of career services. For more information about JCS Career services click here or call 410-466-9200.