Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Four Time Management Fundamentals to Tackle Your Job Search

In our information-24/7 society, chock full of career advice, its not uncommon to become more preoccupied with the condition of the trees than the state of the forest. Am I on the right Twitter feeds? Am I using LinkedIn to its fullest? How do I find a job through Facebook? The questions can go on and on, but they are ultimately moot if you do not practice solid fundamentals. Time management is a key component of a job search, one that-I believe-is lost in the bottomless amount of data that assails us every day. Here are four tips to keep you productive and on the straight-and-narrow as you focus on your job search.

You got the job…sorta: I oftentimes see a pattern with those struggling to find a job: they treat it as an afterthought, something to do when all of their “other” work is done. Homework, a job outside their field, hanging out with friends, caring for loved-ones, and other preoccupations are barriers that keep you from landing that job you want. The solution: treat your job search like a full-time job. Make it a priority in your life contract, not an addendum.

Succeed through scheduling: To build upon the last point, whether you use a paper planner or are savvy with Microsoft Outlook or Google Calendar, scheduling time for your job search will make it more real to you. Take a look at your current obligations and set your schedule with undistracted time to focus on your job search. Scheduling it will make it seem more real and prioritized than if you do it “when you have time.” Your intentionality will produce results.

Target your search: When I hear of job applicants that have applied for 300+ positions and are still struggling to find a job, I cringe. What this indicates to me is a lack of planning and strategy. I picture them throwing out their resume to any opportunity, whether it is in their field or not, with the hope of landing something. Since there are only so many jobs out there and your timeline is finite, focus on the jobs that are in your field, fitting with your experience level, and where you would truly want to work. Targeting your application materials to only these jobs, your passion and experience will come through and you’ll be more likely to find a position.

Create goals and track your progress: Most jobs have metrics that you have to meet to show whether or not you are attaining your goals. Why not do the same with your job search? Create goals for yourself (“I’m going to apply for five jobs today, follow up on three positions that I have already applied for, and search for positions for an hour.”) and track those activities using an Excel spreadsheet or a career management tool like JibberJobber.
Tracking will keep you productive and organized as well as allow you to build upon your past successes to keep your job-search momentum going.

Don’t get bogged down in the minutiae of your job search: it’s all about the fundamentals. Follow these time management tips to shorten the length of your job search and better balance your life’s other obligations.

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