I had a cup of coffee with someone that is currently looking for a new job. He’s an executive level professional that has been very successful in his career, recently took advantage of a buyout opportunity, and is a couple of weeks into his job search.
As we were talking about his progress so far, he talked about a challenge he’s facing that is extremely common among unemployed job seekers…
Family and friends put expectations on him since he has so much “free” time available while he’s unemployed.
They want him to run errands, take care of home projects, help with other activities, and other demands on his time that leaves him very little to do the tasks he needs to do for his search.
Most of it… he’s glad to do! He loves the chance to be much more active with his kids, he’s glad to help his wife and friends more than he’s been able to do previously. However, he’s realized he’s had to turn down offers to network over a cup of coffee with others because his time was already booked.
When you’re in a job, people understand you have limited time available and don’t expect 24/7 availability. When you’re unemployed, however, the perception is that your time is completely flexible and you can be available for other projects on a moments notice.
The reality is that most networking, meeting, phone call, and interview opportunities are only going to happen during standard business hours. Those hours are precious to an effective job search. A job search usually needs to be treated as a full-time job in itself.
It is true, that there is more flexibility and fewer expectations on your time during a job search than while working in a full-time job. However, managing expectations with others so that you have the ability to arrange meetings and conversations at the convenience of the contacts you’re making is critical.
Finding the right balance is often a challenge and may take days or weeks of trial and error before figuring out compromises that work.
Having honest and supportive conversations with others, helping them understand what you’re trying to accomplish without alienating them is key.
Enlisting others to keep you accountable and help you find the right balance often aids in making the process go more smoothly.
Make them part of your “team” to help you do the things you need to do in your job search.
AND… do enjoy the added flexibility you do have to be with your family, to help others, and to get projects done!
Manage the expectations of those around you, carve out the time you need for your search, and take advantage of the time you have available.