Use Free Time to Advance Your Job Search

We’ve all heard this one: “It’s easier to find a job when you already have one.” Which makes sense. Employers are always willing to hire someone another company has vetted and entrusted. What this old adage doesn’t factor in is the time it takes to conduct a job search. When you’re looking for a job, the process itself can amount to a full-time job.

How are you supposed to add the commitment of a job search to your busy work schedule? It requires some discipline, but it can be done. You just need to divide the elements of your job search among the bits of free time you have throughout the week.

1. 5-10 minutes

This is the amount of time we most often waste. How many of us make a point of being productive when we have five extra minutes? With a little determination, you can turn five minutes here and there into a vital part of your job search process. You just have to fill those five-minute gaps wisely.

Browsing job listings can be accomplished in small bits of time. Websites such as Simply Hired make it possible to take your job search anywhere. Job listings can be accessed from your smart phone. That’s right—all that time spent playing Candy Crush could be bettering your career. So download a job search app (Simply Hired has one available on iTunes and Android), and use those five minutes to your advantage.

Tip: If you’re using the Simply Hired mobile app, sort job listings by date. This way you can minimize the time you spend looking at old jobs and allow no new jobs to slip under your radar. Consider signing up for an email alert service, which Simply Hired also offers. Email alerts provide you with a daily update of jobs posted with your keywords of choice, which is great for filling five minutes, because how long does it take to read an email?

2. An hour

Let’s say you get home from work at 6:30 p.m. and have a dinner reservation at 8 p.m. You may need to block out a few minutes to freshen up and reserve some time for travel. Besides that you have a solid hour with nothing to do. Everyone has these blocks of time between activities. During your job search you need to make the most of them.

An hour isn’t enough time to rewrite a resume or compose a cover letter. It is enough time to jump on LinkedIn or Twitter and read news that’s related to your industry and to network with other professionals on social media. Companies always use referrals to fill job openings, so engage with individuals in your industry. Sharing items and commenting in discussion groups can be a great way make networking connections. If you can track down recruiters, hiring managers, etc., and make yourself known, you can develop an inside track to a job.

Bonus: Staying up on industry news, as discussed here, can prove useful during the job interview process. So when you have an hour to spare, do some industry reading as well.

3. A lazy Sunday or a rainy day

I live in San Francisco, so I get treated to a number of wet days when it’s rather pointless to even leave the house if I want to keep my feet dry. Maybe you endure rainy days, and you’ve certainly had a lazy Sunday. Instead of letting it turn into a lost day, spend time wrapping up some of the more time-consuming aspects of your job search such as the application process, resume or cover letter.

Sunday is a great day to finalize your application because you’ll want to send it on Monday morning. Studies show Monday is the best day of the week to apply for a job. Be among the Monday applicants by finishing your application on Sunday.

4. Your lunch break

It can be tricky to conduct a job search when you have a job, especially once you’re in the phone and in-person interview stages. There may be a temptation to use your lunch break to schedule these activities. This is risky. How often is your lunch break delayed? How often do 11 a.m. meetings run long? Now imagine you’re sitting in that meeting and your interviewer calls and your phone vibrates. Not good.

It’s always better to avoid booking yourself during your lunch break. Use lunch to network or post updates to your professional social channels. If you need time for an interview, take a day off or get permission to leave work early. The interviewer knows you’re employed and will work around your schedule.

Although a job search can be time-consuming, you can fit it into the various chunks of time you have throughout your week. The trick is recognizing what you can accomplish in the time you have.