Anyone putting in a full-time effort looking for work will tell you that it is often frustrating and hard to keep sustained momentum going. While there are highs and lows, when the rejections or lack of responses happen, it can be tempting to give in and give up. So how do you keep investing a steady flow of energy into a job search?
The answer in a word is, ‘variety’. If you’re going about the job search only sitting in front of your monitor for example, you’re bound to get bleary-eyed and you can be susceptible to feelings of isolation, loss of confidence in your interpersonal skills, and you might also find yourself over-checking your inbox only to find no responses which will only further increase your feelings of frustration.
Going about your job search using a multi-dimensional approach means not only using the internet, but also the phone, knocking on doors, meeting with people, setting up information-gathering interviews, reading, doing some self-assessments, mock interviews and also ensuring you have some positive, healthy diversions. Yes you can and should have diversions even in a full-time job search.
A good way to get going with such a job search is planning. Schedule yourself some time to get on the computer perhaps first thing after some breakfast. Check your email for anything that came in overnight, for new postings you want to take advantage of. Set yourself some goals related to diversifying your day. Maybe your plan is to call 3 people that day, write a couple of cover letters, apply for 3 jobs, spend 30 minutes out for a walk or a run, having lunch with one of your references.
In order for the above to all get done, you’d have to organize and plan your day. You want to finish the day checking off all the things you had planned to do, not feeling bad that the time just got away from you. This kind of structure to your day mirrors the kind of structure you might find in a job. You are practicing the same skills – planning, goal-setting, organizing – that your job would require. This kind of behaviour also gives you ammunition if you decide it’s appropriate and want to bring it out in an interview.
You’ll appreciate how different this kind of approach is from the person who wakes up, has some breakfast and says to themselves, “Now, what will I do today?” This kind of spontaneous approach is more likely to result in a scattered, hit-and-miss kind of day where at the end you might find too much time was spent doing a thing or two and too little or no time was spent doing other important things.
So suppose you spent one day doing what I had outlined earlier. Your next day might be to get up, eat breakfast and then check your inbox and job postings but then change-up your schedule. Could be you opt to take advantage of a sunny, bright day and visit 4 potential businesses you are interested in working for. Meet the Receptionists, pick up some literature, observe the employees for clues on their dress code, soak up the atmosphere (busy, laid-back, formal, stressful?).
Giving yourself permission to get out from behind the monitor and out of your home can improve your disposition, give you a sense of purpose and opportunities to work on your people skills. Once home, reading some of the literature you picked up (promotional materials, annual reports, brochures about products and services) can all help you better answer a potential interview question, “What do you know about us?”, or “What did you do to prepare for this interview?”
You should observe that activities you do are not activities in isolation; they all build on one another. So by visiting a business, introducing yourself and getting the name of the Receptionist, you have started the basis for a relationship that you can build on with a phone call. “Hello Brenda, this is Kelly Mitchell. We met yesterday when I dropped around to pick up some information. It was very nice to have met you. As you know I’m interested in speaking with Mr. Campbell, and am calling at the time you suggested. Could you put me through please and thank you.”
Brenda the Receptionist now has a clear idea of who you are from your visit the day before, sees that you follow through, and may have some emotional connection to you which could improve your chances of getting her onboard with your efforts to get through to Mr. Campbell. While you could have called and just said, “Mr. Campbell please”, recalling yourself to Brenda first shows her respect and increases her own self-esteem as you remembered her name.
Be sure to add some small diversions placed strategically throughout your day. In the business world, you’ll have breaks scheduled, so do this at home too. Short breaks to refuel and re-focus. If you record a half hour television show and advance through the commercials, you’ll have a 22 minute break and then get back at it. Conversely, read a chapter of a short story on the back patio in the sun.
By using variety in your job searching, you will avoid mental fatigue, practice a variety of work-related skills, and feel you’ve done more at the end of the day. Keep your job search positive and interesting!
Feedback always welcome!