,   |  March 22, 2013

Tips to make your job search efficient (and enjoy your free time)

I have a lot of friends and clients job searching right now – some who are currently not working and the job search is their job. I know this is easier said than done, but I always tell people to try to enjoy their “free time” as well. It really does take the edge off of what can be a discouraging process.

Now I know job searching can feel like a full time job, but in reality, it doesn’t need to take up 10 hours a day if you are efficient with your time. If you manage to make your searching time really efficient, you’ll have some hours free to enjoy the city you live in, read that book you’ve been meaning to read, take a short vacation, learn something new, or whatever else. It’s time you never really get back once you start your next job, so enjoying it is not the worst thing in the world!

Disclaimer: All of this is easier said than done and I definitely didn’t “enjoy” my last job search whenI was unemployed! So it all as a suggestion.

I think making your job search efficient comes down to a few things: setting goals, getting into a routine, being strategic about what you apply for, and keeping yourself organized. I’ll elaborate on these and give some tips I/my clients have found to be helpful.

efficient job search

1. Set goals and track them

These are so you can hold yourself accountable to progress. Sometimes when you are in the job search process and not getting any interviews, it can feel like you’re not making progress. Unfortunately there is only so much you can do to control if someone calls you in for an interview but there is lots you can control and setting realistic goals for yourself will help you feel the progress.

One type of goal that really helps people is a daily application goal (for weekdays). For example, you might say I will apply for 3 new roles per day. Doesn’t sound like a lot, right? Well, not yet. However, when we get to the part where I talk about “applying strategically” you’ll see that it’s better to spend a lot of time and energy on the 3 roles, versus sending out 20 applications without any customization/extra effort.

So set a daily goal for yourself you can keep and once you set that goal, figure out how you want to track it. Whether it’s a google docs spreadsheet or a pen and paper checklist, it doesn’t matter. Just keep track and hold yourself accountable. If you keep putting in applications for jobs you are a good fit for, and take the follow up steps I’m suggesting, you will start to get calls.

2. Get into an routine

Attack the job search like it’s a job. Make rules for yourself like “I will start at 9am and end at 12pm”. Within that set time, stay away from Facebook, Gchat, and any other time wasters. This is your job so when you allocate time to it, that’s the only thing you should be doing. Job searching at specified times (vs. whenever you feel like it) helps create structure which will make it more likely to happen and make you feel better about doing it. It will also make the time you spend much more efficient.

3. Apply to jobs strategically

Ok, this is the big one. I can’t say it enough. Quality is so much more important than quantity of applications. Read job descriptions carefully, apply to roles you are really a good fit for, customize your resume and cover letter to that job… and then follow up! To me, you haven’t fully applied for a job unless you have followed up with someone directly at that company. How else are you going to get your resume out of that black hole? There are lots of ways to follow up, even if you don’t have contacts at certain companies.

4. Keep the details very organized

Again, tracking everything about your search will help keep you organized. Which jobs have you applied for? When? Who do you know there? When should you follow up? Keep a tracker (this one is tailored towards internships but you can easily tweak it to work for full time jobs too) where you can reference where you stand with different companies.

Now, by doing all of these things, you are going to have a much more efficient job search. There is no reason why you need to dedicate every hour of a given day to this process. Go outside! Read something, learn something, exercise, do something fun… Burning yourself out and having the search being your single focus will make you miserable, and it’s unnecessary.

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