Looking for a Job is a Full-time Job
Forgive me if you’ve heard this lecture – er, I mean discussion from me before. But, it’s the number one thing I tell executives with whom I’m working on their job searches: Looking for a job, is a full-time job. Any more can burn you out, any less, you’re not likely to succeed. But more than the hours – it’s the structured approach you must take, if you’re going to land your next role.
8 to 6, with Breaks
Obviously, after this important discussion, I also counsel on what someone should be doing. But yes, that comes after. First and foremost, we talk about when, and why to approach the job search itself as a job. First, the “when”. By the time I am referred to some executives, they have just suffered their first career blow, and it’s hard to figure out where to begin. The logical approach seems somehow to be to take a nice vacation – 3 or 4 weeks – and then to give it “everything you’ve got”. This seems to mean staring at the computer for up to 20 hours a day. Anything less seems to feel like you’ve wasted your day, and not given it your all. Perhaps there’s an eager spouse who also expects to see his/her better half “trying harder”. How can you anything but respect the husband who has put in 12-hour days, and not gotten up for more than food or a bathroom break in days, right? Wrong. Looking for a job is itself a full-time job. No less, and no more. If you’re an 8 to 5’er or a 9 to 6’er, or even a 10 to 7’er, that’s your prerogative. But, just like you won’t get a job lounging at the beach, you’re also not likely to find one staring at a computer for 12 straight hours.
Organize your Search, Just as You Organized When Employed
This gets us to the next point – you won’t find a job staring at a computer, with no plan. You must organize your new role – full-time job seeker—just as you organized for your job while bringing home a paycheck. Each week, set goals for yourself, and each evening before wrapping up, set the next days’ goals. At the mid-week point, analyze where you are for this week’s goals, and Friday at 5, track your progress to plan. You did it while employed, right?
Beyond that I usually work through a customized plan of what works and is most likely to yield results. But here’s an example of what a plan might look like: For the following week, I will have coffee with 5 new connections, have 3 informational interviews, reach out to 20 more of my Linked In connections via e-mail, and call 10 former coworkers.
You’ll note that the “plan” above does not include applying to any jobs, but that is a whole other story.