We know our readers are in the business of being the best at what they do. Finding a new job should be an opportunity to advance your career, not settle for the first company to finally make an offer. We wanted to discuss some common mistakes job seekers make and some best practices on how to structure your day on the job hunt.
There are many reasons professionals can find themselves between jobs, from a sudden layoff, to transitioning from a career in the military, to quitting to escape a toxic boss. It is statistically likely that a professional will find themselves unemployed at least once during their career. While some in-demand professionals can find work in days (Ex: LeBron James, ER nurses), most people will take weeks or months to find a new job.
How you spend your time while unemployed will directly impact the time it takes to find a new position. The more time it takes, the more your finances can take a hit and the more likely you’ll settle for a good-but-not-great job. Also, the longer you spend unemployed the more your value on the market will erode. Employers can start to assume that there is something wrong with you – especially in a hot job market.
A typical job seeker’s day might look like this:
7-8 AM: Morning routine. Get up & get the kids out of the house. Kiss my spouse goodbye as they head out the door.
8-9 AM: Watch the morning news show, have second cup of coffee. Get distracted by Facebook/Twitter/Instagram.
9-9:30 AM: Walk dog.
9:30-10 AM: Pull out laptop and start cruising job boards. See seven promising job posts in the in-box from Indeed, Monster, Careerbuilder, and LinkedIn.
10-1030 AM: Check out LinkedIn feed.
1030-1230 PM: In the zone now – applied to one of the seven job posts. Added key words from job post into resume, created profile in their applicant tracking system, wrote a detailed cover letter.
1230-1 PM: Lunch. Watch a little Netflix while eating lunch.
1-1:30 PM: Check emails while Netflix show is still on.
1:30-3 PM: Apply to second job post. Cut and paste cover letter from previous job application.
3-4:00 PM: Feeling a little cabin feverish. Run to Home Depot, the post office.
4:00 PM: Time for Dr. Phil.
4:30-5 PM: Hit the “easy apply” button on the remaining five job posts.
5-5:30 PM Scroll through emails & social feeds. Enough job hunting for one day. Time to make dinner.
The above schedule is assuming the job seeker is staying mostly on-task – I know many long-term job seekers who incorporate naps, chores and childcare into their day. One candidate we had spend all afternoon at the gym – while he got absolutely ripped, it also took him over a year to find a job.
“But wait,” you say, “I’m applying to jobs from seven to seven every day!” A for effort, but D for results, I’d bet.
Around 70% of jobs are found via networking. Less than 15% find jobs via job boards.
Most job seekers spend 80-90% of their time applying to jobs online, instead of more productive uses of their time. Rewriting your resume and cover letter to reflect the job post is important, but it can be very time-consuming.
The best practice to finding a job is to treat your job search like a full-time job. You wouldn't leave work for two hours to mow your lawn, so don't do it during business hours. Have a conversation with your spouse and agree to expectations of housework, errands, & childcare while you are unemployed. (Side note: I understand that paid childcare might need to be modified if you need to cut costs. It’s a huge budget line item. That will be something you and your spouse will need to work around.)
Before we start building a better daily schedule, we’ll begin with setting some goals. The overall goal of your job search is to land a job that you will be excited for. It will pay you what you are worth, and you will enjoy what you do. To get a job, you need job offers. To get job offers, you need to get interviews. To get interviews, you must find out about job opportunities. To find the job opportunities, you must discover organizations that ready to hire more people. Note: I specifically did not say "discover organizations with jobs posted that I am a fit for." Not all job opportunities get posted. Networking can get you to the head of the line, or be the line in some cases.
To plan the most productive day, set incremental goals. Think of your job search as a flywheel. There is a lot of inertia to start but if you add energy each day, soon you should find yourself busy interviewing and hopefully landing multiple offers.
A productive week might be 1-2 interviews, 15-20 networking phone calls, 2-3 coffee or lunch meetings in person, and one networking function. Along the way, you can apply to 5-10 jobs (because you might get lucky). Your day should be engineered to hitting your numbers each week.
Here is an example of a better daily schedule:
5 AM: Up and at ‘em. Get in a workout, run, or walk. Self-care is important during unemployment.
6-7 AM: Morning routine, including breakfast. Catch up on local business news: news outlets, business journal, and other daily news digest emails like Fortune & the Wall Street Journal. You might see some actionable news such as a company relocation or get some talking points about current events that show you are still in the game. Shower and dressed for your day of “work.”
7-8 AM: Get the kids ready for school and out the door. Kiss your spouse goodbye as they leave for work.
8-830 AM: First scheduled call of the day. Reconnecting with a former coworker. Talking about the company they have been working for since 2015. Find out they are in growth mode. Former coworker asks to review their open jobs and send resume over for any that look good. Add that to daily to-do.
8:30-10:30: LinkedIn time – targeting two companies you read about this morning – making connections. You discover two alumni from your University that work in the local office of one and another that you know from church at the other. You reach out to them and to others asking if you can set up a call to talk about what it’s like to work there.
1030-11 AM: Second scheduled call of the day. You had sent a message to the VP mentioned in a Business Journal article about a new company relocating to town. You hit it off on the call. He asks to see your resume and you agree to meet for coffee next week.
11-1130: Driving to meet a friend for lunch. Your kids play soccer together and have the same professional background. They work for a big multinational company.
1130-1 PM: Lunch. You find out all about your friend’s company. It turns out that they are struggling with some bad acquisitions and they might be doing layoffs of their own. You take them off your target list for now.
1:30-3:30 PM: Company research, making connections, and exchanging messages. You manage to schedule three more calls over the next two days.
3:30-4 PM: Third scheduled call of the day. This call is with one of the sales reps from one of your old suppliers. She gives you three leads – two companies she knows “could use someone like you” and the name of a guy in her network who is a “power networker.” She agrees to make an introduction. You add that to your to-do list.
4-5 PM: Review and to-do. Today you made 20 new network connections, had three phone calls and one in-person meeting. You email out thank you notes to the people you called, and spend 20 minutes looking at job posts on the company page your friend works for. You send the links to two of the positions you might be interested in as well as a cover letter and resume. You set a reminder to follow up with him the next day. Looking at the next day, you have a monthly networking luncheon to attend as well as two scheduled calls. You also have about 20 follow-up calls and messages to make.
5-8PM: Family time. You make dinner and help your kids with their homework.
8-9PM: While watching TV, you cruise your job alert emails, and find two you want to apply to. You spend the rest of the hour cross-referencing the companies on Linkedin – your neighbor works for one of the companies and the other you notice the job is posted by the hiring manager. You’ll try to connect with both tomorrow.
Other activities that can productively fill your day will be to preparing for interviews, following up with people you have already met with in your search, or going to job-events. Some might turn out to be a waste of time, so you learn and move on.
Your weekly goals can be bigger or smaller than the example within reason. It’s your day – so plan it to maximize your efforts. Maybe you prefer taking a walk over lunch to bring your energy up. Maybe you prefer to spend the morning working in a coffee shop to get out of the house.
While each day might be different than the last, if each day is spent connecting, learning, expanding your network and building an army of people looking out for you, your phone will start ringing and you’ll be busy interviewing. It might not be immediate but being disciplined day-in and day-out will get your flywheel moving.
Thanks for reading! If you would like more personalized help with networking or setting up your job search, let us know. We have a team of coaches available to help.
If you are ready for a new job or to hire for your team, we’d like to hear from you.
The Rivet Group is an Executive Search and Consulting company. If you like what you read, please consider subscribing and sharing on your social networks. Thanks again!