Job search is a challenge on the best of situations, but it’s especially difficult to manage while you are working full-time. It’s hard, no doubt, but you can do it!
Here are a few tips that will help you keep your sanity and improve your chances of obtaining a better position.
1. Be clear about your goals.
What do you want to accomplish, and in what time frame? Many job seekers are hesitant to assign a time frame to their goals, but it is important in helping you to make short-term plans. Relax, you can adjust the “deadline” if you need to – nothing is written in stone.
Be as specific as possible. “I want a new job by next year” will not be as effective for you as, “By July 2015, I want to work for a 10,000+ employer in my own office, earning $65,000 a year no more than an hour commute from my home.”
Again, you can adjust and change this goal as needed, and it is certainly okay if you end up accepting an offer for a position that meets only some of these “requirements.” This level of specificity allows you to focus your search and keeps you from missing opportunities.
2. Make short-term plans from long-term goal.
Once you have a solid long-term goal with a time frame, it will be easier for you to make effective short-term goals that will keep you on track for your long-term goal. When you are also working full-time, it is easy to get sidetracked by your routine work day. Think about the big picture. What will you need to DO or HAVE to reach your goal? Make a list.
Your list might include something like: Identify the 10,000+ employers within an hour commute. Determine the most effective networking opportunities that might put me in touch with those company representatives. Identify contacts I have that might be helpful in connecting me with representatives of these companies. Find out which positions or in which departments hiring is done most. Determine skills currently possess versus need to develop. Search for job openings and apply.
3. Determine what tasks you will need to accomplish.
Once you have some big picture short-term goals, make a list of tasks. If possible, organize them under the appropriate short-term goals, but if it is easier for you just jot a list free form. Do what works for you.
I usually advise my clients to keep a career-related “notebook” with them at all times – this can be a folder in Dropbox, a notebook on Evernote, an old-fashioned spiral bound paper notebook, or section in your Daytimer. It doesn’t matter much, as long as it is something you have with you all the time and you put everything career and job search related in it. This is especially important if you are working full-time.
4. Prioritize the tasks.
Next, prioritize the tasks you need to accomplish either in order of importance, in terms of frequency or both. You may know right off the bat that you are going to have to improve your computer skills or take a class to update your management skills – mark this accordingly. Other tasks, like those related to actual job searching, you might put into daily, weekly, and monthly lists. Once you have your tasks prioritized, make sure to review these, as well as your short and long-term goals, at least weekly to keep yourself on track.
5. Organize yourself – Consider a mobile office.
Organize yourself so you have everything you need to keep you on track anywhere you are, especially at work. You will also be ready for an interview if you are called for one. Some things to include are: A multipart folder with copies of your polished resume and other pertinent information, job leads to research and apply to, positions you have already applied for, headphones and charging cord for your phone and tablet, paper and pen for notes, business cards, and personal care items.
By thinking ahead and being organized, you can easily job search on a lunch break, waiting for a meeting to start, to fill time from a cancelled meeting or before or after you start work. You will also be able to quickly and easily access what you need at a networking event or resume your job search at home before or after work.
Develop a schedule and stick to it. Pencil in times for job search, employer research, job applications, follow up, networking, and cold calling employers. Figure out in advance when the best times and days to interview might be for you considering your work schedule and demands. If you do, you will be able to easily ask for the interview days and times that will be least stressful for you.
Include start and end times – you are not going to be effective at job search if you are trying to do so from the time you walk in the door until you fall asleep at the computer! Take breaks. Eat. Do some fun or social things so you have something interesting to talk about other than how hard it is to job search while working full-time.
7. Enlist help.
You may not be able to do everything on your own. I hate to break it to you! Think hard about what you actually need to do yourself and what you may be able to farm out. You may have a friend or relative who has the skill and time to help.
Pay someone to write your resume and cover letter for you – if you do you will look back and think it the best money you ever spent. Hire someone to find job leads for you. Likewise the cost-benefit ratio is in your favor.
Be realistic, diligent, organized and keep focused on the long-term goal: You will get there, sanity intact.
About the author
Mary Sherwood Sevinsky is a career and occupational consultant who is masters-prepared and certified. She is a business owner with nearly 20 years of experience in Corporate Management, Career Assessment & Counseling and in writing Career Articles and Educational Materials. She has worked as a corporate manager experienced in hiring, firing, and managing a staff of professionals with a multi-million dollar budget. Learn more about Mary and her services: www.life-works.info.
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