Job hunters, I sympathize with your pain. Feeling depressed and stressed is not helped when you realize that its 6pm and you’re still on the couch, with your laptop, in your pajamas. After sacrificing countless hours to web browsing, I finally figured out what my job search was craving: organization.
Start with the basics
Before you start the schedule, sharpen your tools. This includes an updated resume and the skeleton of a killer cover letter. (A generic letter is not what is being suggested.) Later you will customize cover letters to fit each job, but for now you should formalize the later paragraphs that detail your skills and professional ideals.
Clean up your Facebook page and create a LinkedIn account because recruiters are keen on checking these. Also, get a spreadsheet ready to help keep multiple job opportunities organized; include these headings: Company Name, Job Function, Biggest Draw, and Link (to the actual listing).
7:45-9am: Get into the routine
Relax; 7:45am is a suggestion. That being said, you need to get the following done before 9am:
- Dress in anything but pajamas and put shoes on (sounds weird, but psychologically it makes a difference).
- Have breakfast, prepare a lunch and store it in your fridge.
- Find a working space other than the couch and turn the TV off.
- Check your email, Facebook, whatever - just be sure by 9am you are ready to dive in.
9-10am: Find and track jobs
The goal during the next 55 minutes is to skim listings and track them on your spreadsheet. There is no magic number, just value quality over quantity. Don’t add a job to your spreadsheet you’re not interested in or that you are not qualified for, it’s a waste of everyone’s time.
Stop your search at 9:55am and rank your leads; your goal is to determine your top four prospects.
10am-Noon: Research and prepare
Now that you’ve established your top four, it’s time to do some in-depth research and tackle each job opportunity one at a time (30 minutes each).
For each job, devote 20 minutes to researching the company’s background and trends. The goal is to figure out a way to fit your talents into their culture. Spend the last 10 minutes customizing your cover letter. Prove to those concerned that you’ve taken the time to learn, and explain why you would be a qualified addition to their team.
12-12:45pm: Take a break
Your tummy is rumbling, so have your lunch. Ideally use the rest of your break to take a walk; the sunshine and exercise will boost your energy and mood. Other options include stretching, reading, meditating… just stay away from the unemployed person’s biggest enemy: the TV.
12:45-1pm: Review and submit
Your break has refreshed your eyes so review your cover letters for any typos and send. There’s no proven “best time of the day to submit an application” but people tend to be in better moods returning from lunch and most get back into work mode by scanning their emails, so here’s hoping you’ll stand out.
1-2pm: Speed apply
Now attend to the remaining listings you sought out at the start of your day. Instead of spending 20 minutes to research and 10 minutes to update your cover letter, cut things down to 15/5.
Take a 30 minute cat nap (tip: have some caffeine before, it takes 30 minutes for it to kick in so you will wake up with a double boost of energy), have a snack or return missed calls. You can do anything you want in these 30 minutes just avoid the TV and your computer (because hey, you need a break).
2:30-3:30pm: Navigate out of your comfort zone
It’s time to branch out and get creative. Cold call companies you admire. Look up social events for networking opportunities. Interact on social media with people in your desired field. Look into temp agencies. It’s ok if these efforts are fruitless because if you’ve stuck to the schedule thus far, you’ve already accomplished a lot.
3:30-4pm (5pm MAX): Wrap things up
Tie up the day’s loose ends by applying to leftover jobs or checking your email. Look up new postings and add them to tomorrow’s list. If you find some other great leads then by all means, apply now; but by 5pm, walk away.
The job hunt is exhausting and burnout is easy. Spend your evening watching TV (yes, now you can turn it on) or go catch up with friends. Eventually you will land a job. In the meantime, a productive day will keep you feeling organized and comforted - knowing that you’re giving the job hunt your all.
How do you maximize your job search efforts? Share below.
Kelly Gregorio writes about employment trends and employee motivation while working at Advantage Capital Funds, a business loan provider.