Some unemployed people spend less than four hours a week on their job search. Some work at it even less. How does 41 minutes a day sound (see the Princeton study with that statistic)? Will a job seeker be successful with so little activity? Probably not.
Recognize this for what it is. Finding work is often harder than being employed. The skills that you need to be successful in a job search (e.g., self-marketing, interviewing, active networking) are often not the skills you use in your profession. Remember, though, that this will not be forever. Soon you will be back doing what you do best, if you work your search diligently and consistently.
To keep this from falling into the 41-minute trap (what do these people do after, say, 9:30 AM?), here are some job search foundations that you should implement today. This will keep you moving and motivated in an environment where negativity and rejection are real and ever-present.
Create a weekly plan. Plot out your activities for the week. Plan for shorter bursts of focused activity, limiting the time to no more than 90 minutes per task. People cannot maintain strong focus longer than this, so plan your work in blocks. Factor in short breaks, exercise, family obligations, meals and all of the other distractions (Facebook, anyone?) and priorities. Remember to invest at least 30 hours a week in yourself with an intense job search.
Rotate through your activities, matching the task to the best times. I am an early riser, often on social media at around 6AM. This would be fine in a job search because you want to have a social media/online presence, and it is less time dependent than other priorities. Your people-centered activities – phone calls, informational interviews, cold canvassing – need to be done during business hours. Don’t be hanging out on LinkedIn when you should be meeting and talking with people.
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Get dressed and out of the house. You will not find a job with online activities alone. Get going at the same time every day, get a shower, get dressed and be ready for the business of your search. If you are targeting a job or function where you can drop in and apply in person, do that. Join networking groups. Check for services, job search teams, workshops and seminars at your state’s employment office, public library or faith communities (many see this as a vital and viable ministry).
Track your results. They say if you can’t measure it, you can’t manage it. In this case, you have to manage yourself. Hold yourself accountable to your plan. Don’t accept your own excuses. If you didn’t make your calls today, add them into tomorrow. There is no boss hovering over your head to force a deadline. Instead, you need to be accountable to yourself and those who depend on you.
Celebrate and rest. When you get to the end of your week, review your results. How much time did you spend on your search? How many people did you contact who could help you find a job? If you are pleased with your effort and results, celebrate! Give yourself a high-five. Take the weekend off, rest, recharge, and do something else to restore yourself. Get ready to do it again on Monday.
The job search does not offer much positive reinforcement. There is a lot of rejection. It really is no fun. But when the good things happen, they make all of the difference. Unlike so many other areas of life where there are degrees of success, the job search is more binary, more black/white, job/no job. Recognize it, face it head on and work hard. Good things will happen for you.
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Bill Florin CEIP CPRW is President of Resu-mazing Services Company.