If you recently lost or quit your job and you’re in job-search limbo, life can be frustrating. It’s hard to figure out what to do with yourself during unemployment. How do you make the most of your time? What can you do to make sure that your job search productivity stays high?
It’s not easy. A couple of house of clicking through job listings can feel endless. Writing and rewriting your resume and cover letter can tempt you to bang your head against the wall just for a brief respite.
It takes so much focus to stay productive while searching for a job, and frankly, it can be painful. You’re only human if you get tempted by Instagram and mindless middle-of-the-day TV more often than you’re tempted to search for your dream job. But that doesn’t have to be the case.
You can maximize your job search efforts and get the most out of the time you put in with just a few simple adjustments.
Make a Plan
First, make a plan for yourself every day. Don’t just jump into the job search willy-nilly. A schedule will help you figure out how best to tackle the herculean task in front of you.
If you’re currently working, analyze your daily schedule and find windows of time for the job search, then block out those time blocks. You may have to be creative if you’re busy, but all of us can sneak in an hour before breakfast, after dinner, or on the weekends.
If you have seemingly endless time ahead of you because you’re currently unemployed, a job search plan might be even more important. Break down the process into categories to get the most out of it. For example:
- Networking: Plan to follow up with a networking contact every Monday, Wednesday, and Friday.
- Research: Set aside Tuesdays and Thursday to research new companies and jobs to apply to and to make new contacts.
- Apply: Every Monday, set aside time to draft and review your materials and then submit your applications.
- Update Your Information: Set aside Saturday and Sunday to update your social networking sites, work on your resume, and evaluate your cover letter.
- Follow Up: Every Friday, follow up on applications sent the previous week.
The days you choose can vary based on your schedule and what makes sense for you. The key is to have a set plan that makes it easy to maximize your job search productivity.
Keep Track of Your Activities
As outlined in your job search plan, there’s a lot that goes into the process. Make it easier on yourself by keeping a spreadsheet of everything you’re doing. You’ll want to track:
- The jobs you’ve applied to.
- Which companies you’ve researched.
- Who you interviewed with, including their contact information.
- The date of your interview or last contact.
- What resume and cover letter you sent to each job.
- The dates of any follow-up communication.
You’ll also want a separate spreadsheet with a list of your networking contacts including who they are, their contact information, how they’ve helped you, when you were in contact, and any leads to follow up with.
Make it a part of your daily routine to update your tracking data.
Don’t just rely on Indeed and Monster for your job search. LinkedIn is a powerful tool for finding jobs, making contacts, networking, and getting the word out about your job search. It’s one of the most valuable tools in your arsenal to set you up in a better position in your career all without ever leaving your couch.
The key is to make sure you’re using LinkedIn in every way possible, so you get the most out of it.
- Ask for LinkedIn Recommendations: Beef up your LinkedIn profile by asking for recommendations from old and current colleagues, bosses, friends, and clients.
- Build Your Network: Complete a detailed search on LinkedIn for professionals who can help you get in contact with the types of jobs and companies that most interest you. The key is to build a diverse network.
- Update Your Profile: Keep your profile updated with your latest skills, jobs, projects, images, and more to ensure that your profile shows up at the top of LinkedIn searches.
- Post Regular Updates: Set yourself up as a thought leader and use LinkedIn as social proof of your skills and knowledge by regularly posting updates, joining groups, and commenting on industry-related topics.
Also read: Creative Ways to Job Opportunities
Develop Strategic Job Search Materials
Everyone knows that you have to tweak your resume and cover letter for every job you apply to. Each job and company requires different keywords, summaries, and qualifications. The goal should be to specifically target your resume and cover letter to the prospective audience. The problem is that this is very time-consuming and leaves a lot of room for human error.
That’s why you should take the time to create a “core” cover letter and resume—a template—that can be quickly edited for each position you apply to. This template should contain all the elements that will always remain the same, such as your accomplishments, education, and detailed project information. And in a different colored text or highlighted, outline those areas of your resume and cover letter that will always need to be changed.
- Keywords: You’ll want to change keywords in your resume and cover letter to match the job description qualifications. Make sure you have sections throughout your cover letter and resume that you can quickly and easily edit to include the appropriate keywords.
- Summary: The summary on your cover letter and resume should always change based on your research of the company and job description. Create a basic outline and highlight areas where you can add mission statement information, product details, culture specifics, and more.
- Bullets: Leave room for bullet points that can be easily changed to describe the unique qualities that you have that match the job description. This is your chance to explain why you’re passionate and excited about this particular opportunity.
The more of an outline you have in place, the easier it will be to update your cover letter and resume each time. You want to match the job without having to rewrite the whole thing or accidentally leave something in that was meant for a different position.
Job Search Productivity Ideas
There are dozens of other ways you can maximize your job search productivity. A few more ideas include:
- Hire a company such as Reputation.com to monitor your online reputation, alert you to new findings, and help you resolve issues.
- Use distraction-blocking apps such as ColdTurkey to keep you off social media and other time-sucking websites that will take away from your job search.
- Upgrade your job skills and knowledge by taking free courses or watching videos, tutorials, or lessons to enhance your marketability. Ivy Exec offers many upcoming live classes on every topic under the sun.
- Use niche job sites such as Ivy Exec’s companies hiring directory to find job openings with less competition.
All of these job search steps will help you save time and become a more productive job seeker and a better applicant. The key is to spend time doing the things that are most important to your job search and avoid those things that take you away from your goals.