Well-known fact: Job searching and being unemployed can be one of the most discouraging and ego-smashing things a person could ever experience. Rejection is common, and there is a tendency to end up in a very unhappy place.
Then, there’s the chaos. If you’ve previously been working for most of your career in a full-time position, you’re used to have the structure and routine to each day. Being out of work, you find yourself in a drifting miasma of “What do I do today?”
Someone once told me: Looking for a job IS a full-time job. You need to adopt that mentality.
Here are some suggestions on how to chart your course, add some structure to your day, and give yourself definable goals to give you that sense of order that you had within the workplace:
1) Appoint a Job Search ‘Buddy’
This person will be someone you report to on a weekly basis. This person will hold you accountable and be your ‘cheerleader’ at the same time. NOTE: Make sure that this person is someone who is a friend, mentor or colleague. Don’t rely on someone in your household… this could be a potential sticky wicket with family relationships if you somehow fall off the bandwagon and could lead to arguments!
2) Number of Articles to Be Read Weekly
When you are unemployed or out of work, it is easy to feel that you are getting left behind on industry trends and issues. It’s amazing when you have a clear command of what’s going on in the world how easy it is to find opportunities to talk about what you’ve read or learned.
3) Number of Networking Events to Be Attended Weekly
Shy? Get over it. The ocean is full of sharks right now, and you need to be one of them. That means getting out of the house, and getting out to networking events. Take a completely different approach: my friend Cleon Cox, who is the founder of the Portland Job Finders Support Group has this mantra which is perfect: Meet people, learn something, and have fun.
4) Number of Educational Events to Go to Monthly
When you are not working, again, there is the fear that you are getting ‘off the merry-go-round’ and losing ground to competitors. But smart job searchers realize that there is a huge opportunity to be gained during this time: go take classes. This could be a great way to help catapult you into a new career, enhance your professional credentials, or hone your skills.
5) Number of Volunteer Hours Per Month
Volunteering can provide exceptional opportunities to network, learn new skills, become a known quantity within an organization and even find out about industry or company job openings before they are even posted. Plus, you’ll feel good while doing it!
6) Number of Member Organizations To Belong To
If you have a target industry, chances are that there is some kind of related trade association or membership organization that you could join. The benefit of these organizations is that your involvement can add ‘gravitas’ to your credentials.
7) Number of Informational Interviews Per Week
Part of the ‘getting out of the house’ aspect of this job search plan is to meet people… one-on-one in informational interviews. Many people mistakenly believe and take the approach that informational interviews are all about finding jobs. WRONG! Informational interviews are precisely about finding INFORMATION. The best part about informational interviews is that if you treat the person right who took the time to meet with you, they can become a great internal advocate for you. ALWAYS thank interviewees for their time by mailing a hand-written note.
8) Number of Friends To Talk To Per Week
Who do friends know? People. Employed people. Don’t be afraid to reach out to your entire network. The key is to tap into your social circle and ‘refresh’ your connections. You never know what might happen.
9) Follow Up On Sent Applications
One of the biggest failures of job seekers is that they are constantly looking forward for the next job opening to apply for that they don’t go back and follow up on the positions for which they’ve already applied. Sometimes, the position opening didn’t turn out to be the right fit for your skills. But if you treat the hiring manager or the human resource representative right, you could impress them in a very good way. That could put you on the “A” list for other jobs that come open.
10) Focus Your Resume on Key Themes
You probably have several different theme areas that you could develop separate resumes for based on your background. Explore how you might have different incarnations of your resume, and take the time to develop these fully. You might be pleasantly surprised at how you can reinvent yourself and create new flexibility in your employment search.
This blog seems like, wow, a whole lot of homework, but the goal is to provide structure, stability and goals to you in a time where there is a lot of chaos, unclear objectives and confusion. By structuring yourself and your time while unemployed, this will give you the sense of purpose you need and also a boost to feeling productive.