Time Management for Job Seekers: 5 Step Plan
By Kaylee Houde
You’ve lost your job, perhaps due to downsizing. Now you sit at home wondering what to do next. You no longer have a boss, corporate priorities or KPIs. You wonder to yourself, how do I spend my time?
This post is all about supporting the new job seeker in their time management, and was inspired by the following quote:
“If you fail to plan, you are planning to fail!” – Benjamin Franklin
The question asked more often than not, “What does a job seeker’s plan look like?”
There are really 5 categories in which you should be setting goals and managing your time accordingly:
- Researching Companies
- Targeting Companies (Resume + Cover Letter)
- Interview Preparation
- Networking (Online + Offline)
In fact, I have put together a FREE worksheet to support you in doing so. Follow along and document your goals as you read through the rest of this post.
The way I like to explain the research stage is by reflecting upon the following three questions:
“What kind of transferable skills do you have to leverage?”
“What kind of company do you want to work for?”
“What companies are currently hiring?”
When answering these questions, you will start to notice some overlap between what you have to offer and what companies are hiring for. Don’t stop there. Also conduct some research as to whether these companies have cultures you would be willing to work at.
When you put the answers to these three questions together, you have likely conducted enough research to dive deeper into your why. Once you have a shortlist of companies and roles it is time to answer the question, “Why are you the right fit for this company or job posting?” That is the final question you want to answer when conducting your research.
Simon Sinek wrote an entire book called, “Start with Why – How Great Leaders Inspire Everyone to Take Action.” In this book he notes that people won’t truly buy into a product, service, movement, or idea until they understand the WHY behind it.
When you are looking for a job, you are trying to inspire recruiters and hiring managers to take action with regard to hiring you! Thus, starting with why in your job search is equally critical.
Now that you have some basics on what kind of job you are looking for and your why, you can start to target the roles you will be applying on.
Your resume and cover letter need to make it obvious to the reader that you meet the needs of their job posting. You have heard it before, but I will remind you again, that recruiters spend an average of 6 seconds reviewing your documents.
Thus, the first half of your first page of your resume better showcase the years of experience, education, and key skills that I need to shortlist for you. Do not expect the recruiter or hiring manager to read between the lines or understand what you mean. When sifting through a pile of hundreds of resumes what is going to help you stand out is spelling it out to them.
Thus, setting a goal around what you will do to target each job you apply on is absolutely key.
Here are some solid goal recommendations:
“Spend 30 minutes per application refining the opening paragraph of my cover letter and pulling in key words and qualifications to my resume profile section to ensure fit between myself and the position.”
If you are applying on 5 roles per week, this requires blocking at least 2.5 hours per week simply on targeting your application. While I used to be able to do this in 30 minutes or so, depending on the roles you are applying on, your level of experience, and how easily your transferable skills match this might take longer.
Set the time aside that you need to do this right the first time. It is better to pass the initial screening to make it to the interview for 5 roles than get nowhere sending out 20+ generic applications.
You have already done some research so preparing for the interview is easy. They are probably going to ask you some common interview questions and some of them (if not most of them) will be behavioural.
Behavioural interview questions typically start like so:
“Tell me about a time when…”
The reason interviewers love questions like this is that it is proven that past behaviour is most predictive of future behaviours. Thus, for this category set a goal around knowing your stories. Set a goal to write out your stories as it relates to the job postings you are applying on each week. Remember to include your results and link it back to why this is relevant to the employer.
We know that networking, or relationship building, or whatever you want to call it is HUGE when it comes to your job search. Thus, why wouldn’t you prioritize it and set some clear goals?
How many hours per week can you afford to spend networking? Maybe it is 2 hrs per day on LinkedIn and attending 1 networking event per week. Whatever it is, I suggest you prioritize this goal over all of the others. Why? Because I have said it before and I will say it again, the hidden job market is real.
What are you telling yourself as you approach the job search? If you are a marketer for a product you constantly talk about its best features, right? The job search works the same way. Looking for a job requires you to know your worth.
It always shocks me when people start a conversation with me saying things like:
“I haven’t had a job in X months, I am doomed because…”
“I am unemployed and need your help because…”
“I will never find a job in this economy because…”
What if you consciously chose a different narrative?
Maybe something along the lines of:
“I have spent the last 6 months volunteering with X organization, I have learned…”
“I am a Sales Person with 10+ years of experience and I am looking for…”
“While the economy can be a challenge, I believe I deserve a job because…”
Mindset is everything. Now that you agree, make sure you set a goal around maintaining it. This could be as simple as writing down three reasons why you deserve a job every morning. The goal is to maintain a positive attitude, regardless of your perceived position in the job search. Turn that frown upside down, so to speak.
How long should this all take? It depends.
Some experts estimate it takes roughly one month to find a job for every $10,000 of the paycheck you would like to earn. So, in theory, if you were looking to earn $60,000 a year, your job search could take 6 months. – The Balance Careers
If you have a solid plan, use your time effectively, and spend it where you will receive the greatest benefit then you are more likely to land a job sooner versus later.
My average client takes about 3 months to find a job after amplifying their resume and cover letter and preparing for interviews like a pro. This is significantly better than the estimate above.
Thus, if you want to get noticed by hiring managers and foster confidence in your job search, it does pay off to invest in your future by hiring a career coach. How much money would you put back in your pocket with 3 fewer months of unemployment? Chances are, it is a lot more than the cost associated with investing in a good coach.
In the meantime, set some clear goals and you are further ahead than most. Good luck, and don’t give up!
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