There is a lot of talk about forming good habits lately. I typically hear about habits in the context of drinking water, working out, or waking up earlier, but good habits are very important for job searching too.
Here’s something I see ALL of the time. Someone kicks off a job search and they go out of the gate strong, applying to tons of jobs and feeling really energized. Then, a few weeks pass and the energy fizzles out, the applications slow, and they have a few weeks where they are just “too busy” for a variety of (legitimate) reasons. Then, they get discouraged and wonder why nothing is happening.
The job search is a marathon, NOT a sprint. Frankly, it’s not even a marathon – it’s a GRIND. The only way out of it is doing the work, not just when you feel like it, but consistently. Of course, it’s fine if you’re having a slow week or are busy with other things, but that simply means your job search is not moving forward.
When it comes to job searching, things don’t just fortuitously happen. Only you can move it forward.
So if you’re feeling a sense of urgency, here are a number of good job search habits you should form today and then hold yourself to throughout the duration of your job search. I’m also going to share an awesome free app which will help you stick to these.
Review job alert emails once per day
I’m a big believer in efficiency when it comes to job searching and one of the habits I do NOT want you to get into is spending hours each day on job boards.
In order to avoid this, I recommend setting up job alerts (info on how to do that using Indeed here and the LinkedIn jobs app here) and then commit to simply reviewing them on a daily basis. Set them up for different job titles as well as by companies you’d like to work for. This doesn’t mean you’ll never have to visit a job board again but it does mean you’ll be doing a lot less of it.
Apply to X new jobs per week
The next habit to form is setting up a weekly application goal. Believe it or not, I don’t really care that much about what that per week application # is as long as it’s something you can stick to consistently.
For someone working on a full-time basis and passively job searching, 1-3 apps per week might be the right number and for someone who is in the “needs a job yesterday” boat, I’d recommend 5-10 per week.
Remember that not all jobs applications are lengthy. Both Indeed and LinkedIn have an “apply now” feature (companies can choose if they want to activate it) which basically just involves dragging in your resume and hitting one button.
Commit to following up after each one
I hate the idea of spending hours and hours on applications and cover letters and then not even knowing if they get seen. I also know that most people successfully land interviews (and then jobs) through connections, not through blind applications.
For these reasons and more, the 3rd job search habit I want you to form is following up with a networking note after every single application. Tap into people you know, friends-of-friends, total strangers, or alums of you school.
This is a topic I could talk about endlessly (and I have) so you can get a ton more information on this section of the site.
Send out X informational meeting requests per week
While you’re applying and networking to follow up on applications, you should also be meeting as many people as possible who have interesting jobs or work at interesting companies.
An informational meeting is one where you don’t necessarily discuss an actual job but rather learn about a person’s career, position, or company. I think most people are familiar with this concept but feel a little awkward reaching out. Whether you’re targeting people you already know, friends of friends, or alums, I’d encourage you to set an informational outreach goal for each week. Keep in mind that sending out a few requests may only yield one response or meeting.
These types of meetings can have a huge impact. In addition to learning something new and getting advice, the person might also have some helpful connections for you or a lead on a job at another company.
Reconnect with X former colleagues, mentors, or networking contacts with a status update
There are other people in your life who you probably already know pretty well, so asking for an informational meeting might not make sense. It also might not make sense to schedule coffees or catch ups with all of these people. Who has time for that!
This group of people can still be enormously helpful during your search, but only if you actually loop them into what’s going on.
A well-crafted “ask for help” or update email will let your professional contacts know:
- What you’ve been up to
- What you’re looking for next
- How they can help
Keep in mind that the help you’re asking for can be really simple such as, “let me know if you hear of any opportunities that would be a good fit!”
When you write these emails, make sure you give as much information as possible on what you’re looking for. The more information they have, the more they can help you reach your goals.
An app to help with all of this
So I know this stuff can be really hard to stick to and keep track of. As someone with a slight productivity app addiction, I wanted to introduce you to Strides.
I’ve been using this app myself for non-job search stuff and it’s free, super easy to use, and actually does do a good job motivating me to do stuff I don’t really want to do (at the moment that’s running).
You can add and customize any habit you want and then set up daily, weekly, or monthly goals. For job search stuff, I personally think that measuring your progress on a weekly basis is the sweet spot which gives enough structure without being overly rigid and unrealistic.
You can set up goals for each of the 5 job search habits above and I guarantee it will help you stick to them. The app will send you reminders to log your progress and you can also set additional reminders throughout the day. I also like how it tracks and gives you kudos for streaks and consistency.
Wishing you lots of luck in setting up your new goals and great job search habits. Consistency is key and I know that implementing these practices will help you reach your ultimate goal of landing a job.