Which came first, the unsatisfactory job or the never-ending job search?
The average person spends about six weeks job hunting—unless they’re looking for roles with “vice president” or “director” in the title. Then, it’s closer to eleven weeks. That’s a long time to be scouring job boards and writing cover letters, especially if you’re only getting silence in return.
Looking for a new job is a feat almost every professional dreads. The uncertainty is stressful and the competition is overwhelming.
Whether you’re still working full-time or juggling several small gigs until you find the next best thing, delegating time to properly run your search is part of the problem.
When you work long hours in a tough environment with challenging colleagues, the last thing you want to think about once you’re home is work.
Luckily, I’ve come up with a few tricks and resources to help turn you into a job search weekend warrior – so bookmark this page and have it ready for your weekend searches!
- Identify Your Direction
Knowing where you want your career to go is more important than knowing an exact job title to apply for. Few titles are consistent from company to company, so searching only for “Market Researcher” automatically takes you out of the running for similar jobs with different names, such as a “Consumer Insights Manager.”
Instead, write a few keywords that describe your industry and the level you’re aiming to apply at. Separate these into two columns, so when it comes time to plug in search criteria you have many combination options.
Narrowing the field by relevancy is a key component of both shortening the manual search process and upping your chances to find a good fit.
- Don’t Look Where Everyone Else Looks
Indeed.com is the Walmart of job search tools. Sure, it’s nice that it aggregates listings from other sites. But when you’ve only got the weekend to find potential matches, combing through millions of generic openings won’t cut it.
When possible, take advantage of search tools that separate openings by industry.
For example, Angellist.com is solely for start-up roles, Idealist.org for nonprofits, while Mediabistro features—you guessed it—media-related jobs, or Ivy Exec when you’re searching for executive-level roles.
If you want to leverage your network (and you should), incorporate LinkedIn into the search process. Even if you find the perfect job on Ivy Exec, you can use LinkedIn to cross-reference details. Most importantly, LinkedIn sometimes shows who posted a position, which gives you an actual person to reach out to.
- Keep Your List Trim
Recruiters and hiring managers agree that a lack of specificity cuts your chances of landing an interview.
If you’re forking out your resume to dozens of jobs that sound like partial fits, or those that you would maybe consider if they were handed to you on a silver plate, you’re doing it wrong and wasting valuable time.
The evergreen “quality, not quantity” saying exists for a reason. To keep the search manageable—and relevant—you need to focus on a set amount of positions at a time. When you’re crunched for time and limited to the weekend, this is especially important.
I recommend spending one hour every Saturday on the search. Bookmark these openings in your browser or export them to an app, such as Pocket or Evernote. Once your hour is up, return to that list of job links and cut it half. Hopefully, you’ve ended up with less than 10.
- Make Your Resume Matter
Assuming you’ve updated your resume and prepped it for the job search, you can now focus on adding in the right keywords and experiences.
For instance, if a job stresses training and leadership, make sure your resume blatantly shows your experience in those areas. Can you add how many employees you oversaw instead of just saying you “managed a team”? Yes, most likely.
To hone in on those keywords, pop the job description into a word cloud generator. I use WordItOut, which lets you paste in text and customize the final cloud by count. This way, you can see which words appear most often in a job description (or several descriptions) by setting a minimum count number.
For one description, words that appear at least twice is sufficient. If you’re pasting in several descriptions at once, up it to three or four.
Once you’ve identified the most important words across the jobs you’re targeting, find honest ways to work them into your resume.
If you’re a software developer, a word cloud may reveal that it’s better to list specific programming languages instead of just the term “coding.”
After working in these keywords, use Jobscan to see how successful you were tailoring your experience to the job descriptions. Sending the same version of your resume to every open job is not a good strategy, which is why it’s important to target a handful of the right jobs instead of dozens of wrong ones. Plus, this saves a ton of time.
- Keep Tabs & Follow Up
Now that you’ve narrowed your search field, curated a list of realistic contenders, and made sure your resume is relevant to that list, you’re ready to apply.
But if you apply to five jobs every weekend, you’ve got around 20 applications floating around in cyberspace by the month’s end. And that’s a lot of different avenues to keep track of.
This is where a project management tool comes in handy. This doesn’t have to be complicated. In fact, it can be as simple as an Excel sheet or Trello board documenting the application date, interview status, and other relevant details.
If you’re interested in monitoring the fruits of your weekend labor throughout the week, check out Presumi, a career management tool to help track applications.
No matter which format you choose, you should use it to inform the next weekend’s actions. For example, if last weekend’s batch of resumes yielded three interviews, you’ll want to write three thank-you notes this weekend on top of your normal routine.
The job search often feels like a job in itself, but with a bit of organizational strategy and time-saving practices, it’s possible to confine the process to the weekend.