10 Ways to Be More Productive with Your Job Search
Searching for a new job can be an exhaustive process. Maybe you don’t know how or where to start, or maybe you’re concerned that you don’t have everything you need to apply for a certain position. Even if you have everything, after submitting your resume to multiple places, it can take months to receive a response. During this period of waiting, it is easy to feel like your search is in a rut. How can you stay motivated and make the best use of your time? Below are ten ways that can help you be more productive with your job search:
1.) Make a plan
It is important to create a plan so your search will be targeted at positions and places that fit your skills. If you don’t know what you’re good at doing and if you don’t know what you enjoy doing, you will apply for each and every opportunity that comes your way, instead of only applying for the ones that you’re interested in. Make a list of what types of jobs you are interested in and then find out more about these jobs by talking to people who already have careers in those fields or in similar career fields. Doing this can help you gain information that will strengthen your resume and can also increase your knowledge about the position you’re interested in. After doing this research, organize all the documents you will need to apply such as references, certificates and awards, and past work experience. Then write out a plan with a timeline that will keep you on track. The saying, “by failing to plan, you plan to fail” is true, even when it comes to searching for work.
2.) Search with an accountability partner
A familiar proverb says that “two heads are better than one,” and this can certainly be true when it comes to searching for work. Working with an accountability partner, such as a trusted friend or family member, will help you better stay focused on your job search. An accountability partner can provide valuable advice, give needed encouragement when the search gets frustrating, or they may notice a good opportunity that you miss. Set a time for you and your accountability partner to work together each day, and then set a goal that you can reach successfully. For example, on Monday you can work on improving your resume, on Tuesday you can explore different positions, on Wednesday you can apply to those different positions, etc. Don’t try to do everything at once. Divide your job search into smaller tasks and accomplish them one step at a time.
3.) Set up job alerts
If you are seeking remote employment opportunities, SkipTheDrive.com is a free, simple, no-hassle service that, in addition to listing jobs, can alert you whenever new jobs are found that match specified keyword(s). This niche site enables telecommuting seekers to be more productive by providing pre-filtered listings that allow for work-from-home opportunities. You no longer have to waste valuable time scrolling through endless lists of search results that are not applicable to your skills or preferences. SkipTheDrive.com allows you to search by keyword(s) or by category and lists jobs in real time. Once you do a search, you can set up alerts via email for the keyword(s) you searched for.
4.) Limit disruptions
When you don’t have a job, searching for a job is your job, so treat it as such. Tell family members and friends that you can’t be interrupted during the time that you are searching for work, whether that time is for one hour or several hours. Take care of things that need to be done before you start searching, and then do not waste time doing other things once you start searching. Other people are not the only ones who can disrupt your search…you can too! Be on guard against stray thoughts that come to your mind – the lawn needing to be cut, a phone call needing to be returned, the garage needing to be cleaned. Instead of leaving your job search to do things like this immediately, write them down and schedule a time to take care of them later. You will also need to limit online disruptions and distractions such as social networks (Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, etc.) and checking email. Utilizing distraction-blocking apps while online can boost your productivity and help you focus your energy on your job search. Some good ones to try are Cold Turkey, FocusBooster, and Freedom. Also, put your phone in another room and turn off the television.
5.) Make use of a job search dashboard
It can be hard to keep track of everything when you’re applying for multiple positions. GoJobHero.com is an online dashboard that allows you to save openings from across the web and track your application progress; set reminders for follow ups, deadlines, and due dates; and upload and tag documents, notes, and contact information. You can register by creating an account or by using LinkedIn. You can also install the free JobHero Sidekick extension that allows you to grab all essential information from a job posting with one press of a button. This sidekick is integrated with most job boards, including: Indeed, Glassdoor, Monster, and Simply Hired.
6.) Make good use of LinkedIn
This is the only social networking service that was created specifically for business professionals; as such, it allows seekers to filter job factors by title, experience, location, industry, and more. You can be more productive with your search by making sure your LinkedIn profile is up to date (if you don’t have an account already, creating one is free). Using specific keywords in LinkedIn’s search engine will help you find a good number of openings that you are interested in. You can also look up companies that you want to work for on LinkedIn and see if they have positions available. Finally, the LinkedIn Jobs app is very useful in alerting you to when new jobs are posted.
7.) Create a personalized job search community
Chances are you aren’t the only one you know who is searching for work. If a friend, family member, fellow student, or former co-worker is also looking for a job, why not help each other out? Form your own online community that keeps everyone up-to-date on how everyone’s search is going. It can also be a source of motivation and a place where suggestions can be made and ideas and/or resources shared. A great platform to use to do this is Trello. Trello is a digital bulletin board that allows groups to work more collaboratively and get more done. You can keep track of all the jobs you have applied for by setting up customizable notes, lists, and tasks that can be shared with others. The ability to add images and videos on Trello is a good way to keep your search creative and visual.
8.) Create a progress tracking chart
To keep track of how productive your search is going, create a chart that is easy to update and that will help you identify what you have done, what you need to do, and what you can improve on. Across the top row, list the dates of the week. Down the left-hand column, list tasks such as Job Search Education, Letters and Administration, Advertised Positions, and Follow-ups with Hiring Manager. These tasks should be divided into three categories that respectively conclude with Total Hours, Total Letters, and Total Contacts. A new chart sheet should be created for each week of your search. For a sample job search productivity chart, please click here. Another type of chart you may find beneficial to use is a Gantt chart. Use graph paper to plot out tasks that are related to your search by drawing it as a bar, with the length of the bar indicating the length of the task. For more information on how to create a Gantt chart, please click here.
9.) “Audition” your skills
When you’ve done everything you could do, and still haven’t received a response from any of the positions that you have applied for, it may be time to think outside of the box. If you are talented at such things as creative writing, graphic design, speaking, or handiwork, look for a place that will allow you to do a sample job for free so you can show off your skills. Just as an actor auditions to get a role in a movie, it might be a good idea for you to audition for the role you want in a certain workplace. You can also show off your skills by launching a personal Facebook ad as Work4’s Leona Chu did or by creating a unique YouTube video as Brian Booth did. Don’t limit yourself to traditional job search strategies.
10.) Stay resilient
It’s easy to feel pessimistic about yourself and about your opportunities while searching for work. In a culture that often defines people by what they do, no one likes being without a job. However, it is important to define yourself by who you are. Be optimistic, stay focused on the positive things in your life, and remember to take care of yourself. Searching for a job can drain you emotionally, mentally, and physically. Allow yourself to take frequent breaks from the stress of searching by doing a hobby that you love. Don’t allow searching to isolate you from friends who already have careers that they love. Stay social because you never know when someone will have a lead that can result in a great job for you.