I teach an 8-week job search class, and one of the most common comments I get from participants is that they don’t feel like they’re being as productive in their search as they could be.
For most people, when they are in a job, they have a task to accomplish, a schedule they keep, a routine they go through each day, and someone that’s placed expectations on them to get certain things done. When they become unemployed, there is no expectation to work 9 to 5, no specific tasks they need to accomplish for someone else, and no established routines.
Most everyone has heard the cliche’ that a job search is a full-time job, but very few people treat it that way. One of the biggest reasons is that few people are prepared or plan their time. Daily and weekly planning can be transformational for your job search!
Here are some ideas for you to consider:
- Gather your tools! Decide what format you will use. Whether it’s Outlook, some other desktop or online application, a Franklin Planner or some other paper planner, a PDA, some kind of desk calendar, or a simple spreadsheet… use something where you can document your daily schedule. Use a separate Task List, as well as a place to record your accomplishments.
- Block your time! Most people have no problem marking off time for interviews that they got scheduled, or networking meetings. However, just as important, is making appointments for yourself to make phone calls, work on your resume, research companies, and time for planning! If you block out 2 hours on a Tuesday morning to make phone calls, you should have blocked out time sometime prior to that to create a list and gather the phone numbers of the people you will call, and write scripts. Otherwise you will be spending most of your ‘calling’ time gathering that information. Block out time to plan your next week, otherwise it either won’t get done, or you will be doing it during prime contact time.
- Track your accomplishments! A job search can be discouraging, and it’s very easy to get to the end of a week and feel deflated because you still don’t seem closer to an offer. When you’re in that state of mind, it’s easy to forget what you did do, and feel like you haven’t accomplished much. If you have a list of what went well in the last week… i.e. 5 new job leads, 20 new contacts, 3 informational interviews scheduled, found a new job networking group, etc. you can feel good about the fact that you are doing the things that will eventually lead you to your new career. If you’re doing the things necessary, it’s just a matter of time.
- Work your plan!!! The most sophisticated, elegant, well thought out schedule or plan in the world won’t accomplish a thing if you don’t do what you’ve planned! It’s not uncommon for someone to thoroughly plan their week, and then not do the things they’ve written. Follow through in order to start seeing results.
- Be smart! Be sure to plan your work keeping ‘prime time’ in mind. You can search job postings online at 2:00 in the morning in your pajamas if you choose. However, you can only reach potential hiring managers at their desks during standard business hours. Don’t fill up your days with computer tasks, working on your resume, or doing your planning, when you can do those things ‘off-hours’. Make sure to schedule your time for the greatest impact.
No matter how self-disciplined you may be, you will always be more productive if you plan your time in advance. If you’re in the middle of the day on a Thursday, wondering what you’re going to do next, you will have wasted time vs. moving on to the next task on your planner. Put in the effort to plan your days and your job search will be greatly accelerated!