For professionals who are out of work and looking for a job, the search becomes a job in and of itself. That is why it is so important to take it just a seriously as if you have a full-time job! When there is a substantial gap between jobs, it is easy to get discouraged and lose motivation, but there are some reliable ways to stay focused in the career game while you are out there searching.
Organize your job search. Keep an Excel spreadsheet updated with jobs you have applied for. For each job you should list the job title/reference number, the date you applied, format you used to apply (e.g. emailed resume, online application), the date you plan to follow up, interview dates/times, any contacts you have within the company, and notes. This will help prevent a lot of frustration and make you feel like you are making progress.
Get up and get going. Sleeping late and job searching in your pajamas sounds great, but it is massively unproductive. It is best to keep a steady habit of waking up by 8 a.m., showering, getting dressed (keep it casual if you wish, but avoid those old sweats!), and starting your search by 9 a.m. This way, you are right in line with the rest of working world and you won’t feel so excluded. Also, research has proven that looking presentable, even though you are at home, helps with productivity.
Stay on task. Whether you have a job or you’re unemployed and looking, your day should start essentially the same. Grab a cup of coffee and sit down in front of your computer (or head to the public library if you don’t have an internet connection). Open your spreadsheet to get a sense of where you are in your search, make your to-do list for the day, and set some realistic goals. Here is a sample list:
To Do (Monday, 9/20/10)
1. Send resume to Bradford & Sons, Inc. (Posting for Accountant II)
2. Send resume to Smithington Associates (Posting for Accounting Supervisor)
3. Follow up with Sherry Miller at Huffington & Miller, LLC (applied last Wednesday)
4. Call Matt’s brother about open position at his firm.
5. Get a haircut before tomorrow’s interview at CRC, Inc.
It is important to be realistic and don’t beat yourself up if you don’t complete the list. Just carry items to the next day. Keep in mind professionals are most productive on Mondays and Tuesdays, so those are the best days to contact or follow up with hiring managers.
When you are out of work it is easy to become overwhelmed, discouraged, and even depressed. But, if you keep a positive mind and approach your job search just like you would a job, you will find a sense of accomplishment at the end of each day and, odds are, a job in your near future!