As with most things in life, the more organized you are, the more productive. This is especially true for a job search. We always hear that looking for a job can be full-time work. But what if you’re not using your time effectively? Or what if you have no time to use because you work full-time?
In both cases, it’s quality as much as quantity that dictates your success. Here are some strategies that will lead to a smarter and more efficient job search.
Know Your Destination (And Have a Roadmap to Reach It)
Before you do anything, define your goals clearly, determine if they’re realistic and figure out steps to reach them. Without clear goals, you’ll waste time and energy finding your way.
Sometimes it even helps to draft a mission statement that you can post somewhere visible. This mission statement pertains not only to your career goals, but also the way you want to live your life. It should crystallize your core values and beliefs. Here are some inspiring examples of personal mission statements.
Streamline things as much as possible, both online and off. Keep a folder on your computer’s desktop that has everything you need for your job search including resumes, cover letters, work samples and references. Make sure your online presence is up to date, including your LinkedIn page and portfolio if you have one. That way you’re ready to respond to professional requests in a snap. An uncluttered workspace reflects an uncluttered mind.
Have a Schedule
Whether you’re fully employed or fully unemployed, it helps to schedule your job search tasks. This could include making calls, sending emails, checking job listings or going on interviews. If you’re employed, you’ll obviously need to find extra time during lunch, on weekends, or before or after work. In addition to your schedule, prioritize your long and short-term goals with daily to-do lists.
One of the biggest time sucks for job seekers is indiscriminately sending out blanket resumes in hopes that someone will eventually bite. Not only is this a completely ineffective way to look for a job, it takes time away from more effective ways of finding a job: networking and customizing your search. These days, the majority of jobs are found through personal references. So the more you get the word out with people you know, the better your chances.
Also, make sure you’re applying for jobs for which you’re actually qualified. And be sure to customize your resume and cover letter to answer the needs of each position.
It might seem that unless you’re diligently sending queries, making calls or checking listings, you’re slacking off. But ideally, you should be spending only a small fraction of your time at your desk, and the majority of your time meeting people and making connections. This is the biggest factor influencing your chances of landing a job.
So do your diligence when it comes to researching and applying for jobs, but also get out more. Attend industry functions, parties, networking events or anywhere you’ll be able to make professional connections. Schedule drinks or lunches with colleagues. Set up informational interviews and get active on social media. But most importantly, be yourself and treat everyone like a friend not a pawn.