Monday, November 26, 2007

Balance Your Job Search With The Rest Of Your Life

I've been away for awhile but now I'm back. Life got in my way for a few months, as Life tends to do. Which leads me directly to the subject of this post - life balance.

One of the most common complaints my clients share with me is that they have so little time in which to job search, yet need their search to progress quickly (not to mention successfully).

How do you make time for a job search in the midst of an already busy life? Here are a few tips and tricks I typically share with my clients:

  • Don't add "job search" to your list of To Do's without removing something from your list first. It's unrealistic to expect yourself to do everything you're doing now plus a job search, so make space for your search activities on a regular basis.
  • Set clear job search expectations for yourself. It's not realistic to expect yourself to conduct months-worth of job search tasks in a few weeks, so recognize that a job search can easily last 1-6 months or more and plan accordingly. Make a list of job search goals weekly and post that list where it's easy to see. Keep your job search goals SMART: specific, measurable, achievable, realistic, and time-focused.
  • Create a "job description" for you to follow. If you're job searching full-time, your description should reflect that in the amount, variety, and scope of tasks you set for yourself. If you're job searching part-time, your description will need to be altered to match a realistic set of PT job search expectations.
  • Set weekly job search hours and follow them. Match the hours you plan to job search with the market you are attempting to enter. For example, if you are looking for a position in the banking, finance, or insurance industries, you will want to job search between 9-5 if possible. That will work if you're presently unemployed, of course, but will need to be adjusted if you are not. If you are unemployed, try to spend 35-40 hours weekly on your search; if you are employed, try to carve out 2-4 hours weekly for your search if you can.
  • Break your job search tasks into micro tasks. By breaking large, complex tasks up into smaller chunks you'll find it easier to know what to do next and to pick up your search at different points throughout the day or the week. For example, rather than listing "mail 10 resumes" as a To Do, try chunking that down into smaller, more manageable bits: "review job search agent results for 15 minutes"; "read the About pages of one employer site"; "tailor one cover letter"; or "highlight the key words in three job postings". Be prepared for the fact that this will mean your To Do list will get substantially larger - you're trading a short list for a more precise sense of what to do next.

I've got lots more to share with you on this subject, but to follow my own advice I'm going to do so in multiple posts. Hopefully that will mean that incorporating these tips into you life will be easier as well!

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