If you are out of work, it’s likely that you’ve heard at one person remind you that looking for a job is a full-time job itself. I imagine there are times you actually go at it with a high degree of determination too, but if we’re totally honest here, you probably would acknowledge that you’re not actually job searching 7 hours or more a day, 5 days a week, 4 weeks or more a month.
This isn’t a criticism of your effort, nor meant to be a jolt to get going and take things seriously. It’s extremely rare to find anyone who can reach and maintain such a high level of intensity a full-time job search requires. After all, there are going to be setbacks, rejections, employers who won’t even acknowledge your application, resumes and cover letters to write, additional costs to get around and….well….let’s not overdue the obvious and just cause you even more stress. The bottom line is that it’s challenging to go at any one thing full-time all the time without some measure of progress.
The key in my mind to staying focused and energized during a job search lies in the variety of activities you actually undertake during each day. This I believe is where so many who look for employment fail miserably; especially when they are working on a job search independently. Allow me to explain.
From my observations and discussions both with job searchers in person and via the internet, many people go about looking for work in the following way: 1) look for work on a job website, 2) make a resume for the job, 3) send off the resume, 4) repeat. After doing this for some time, the same people lament that there are no more jobs to apply to that they are qualified for, so they stop the job search out of frustration until the next day and see if there are more new jobs to apply to. Many of these people are looking for new websites, thinking that there must be some websites that have many different jobs, but try as they may; they just find the same jobs in a multitude of different places.
The problem with the above isn’t that the person is looking for different websites, it’s that sitting in front of the computer scouring the web for jobs isn’t part of their job search; it’s their entire job search activity.
You’ll find yourself more motivated and the unemployment period much shorter if you go about looking for work using a variety of activities rather than just one. So in addition to sitting down in front of a computer, I’d suggest adding the following to your job search:
- Compile your references
- Contact previous employers for openings
- Research companies you want to work for
- Use LinkedIn to connect to company employees
- Update your LinkedIn profile
- Sign up with a Temp agency in your field
- Schedule a little fun time during your day
- Get out of the house and network
- Exercise your body and your mind
- Hydrate with water and snack on health foods
- Give an updated resume to your references
- Write a thank you note to your references
- Clean up your social media web pages
- Take a WHMIS or First Aid course
Now, there are many, (And I do mean many) other things you can do to round out your job search. This list is actually very short. You should also use your phone and call up some employers directly and take the initiative to request a short 20 minute meeting where you go on a fact-finding mission and become the interviewer. This is an information interview and you’re not actually looking for them to interview and hire you but rather, you’re networking, getting some insights into the field and will later use those insights to improve your chances of employment.
Short-term courses like a first aid course will add to the section on your resume where you’re listing your professional development, and provide you with tangible evidence that you are in fact accomplishing something during your job search. In a future interview, if you’re asked what you’ve been doing since your last job, you can point to this and say you’ve updated some skills. Yes this training will cost you some money; it will cost you more to do nothing however so think of this as an investment in yourself.
A variety of activities keeps you fresh and your brain stimulated. Schedule your day into a routine where you check your email at the beginning, middle and end of the day. Build in some short breaks to read a chapter or two of a book you enjoy. At least once a week, get out to some networking activity; a training event, drop in to an Employment office for some people contact. The suggestion I’m making is to tackle your job search using a variety of activities so your brain stays stimulated as you move from one thing to another instead of expecting yourself to do the same one or two things for hours on end day after day and remain committed.
Varying what you do to look for work isn’t any different from varying what you’d do in a job during the day. Employers build in formal breaks so their employees return to their work with energy and focus so you should too when looking for work.