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Seven Secrets for Managing Your Time During the Job Search


You’re an engineer and you’ve been employed in your current job for several years; now you’re out of work. You’ve cleaned out your desk and you’re on your own to find a new job. There are no outplacement services available to you. You are not eligible for severance. Or, in another scenario, you decided that you were fed up with your job and you quit. Or, in still another instance, you were shocked when your boss handed you a “pink slip.” In any event, you have work to do. However, you’ve been thinking that you need a break and you decide to take some time off. After all, you’re eligible for unemployment insurance (in some cases). If you were fired, or quit of your own free will, you may have nothing to fall back on except your personal savings. This is not a pretty picture. Now what?

It’s time to start looking for a job, not sit back and take it easy. Oftentimes, when people are suddenly unemployed, they decide to take a break from working because they feel they have earned it even if they really can’t afford to do so. Unfortunately, days quickly turn into weeks and weeks turn into months. Before you know it, valuable time is lost. If you want to be employed six months from now, you will need to start your job search planning effort today. It may take quite awhile to find your job of choice, not just anything that happens to come along. If you are fortunate enough to land a job within several weeks of beginning your search, that’s wonderful, but generally it’s not the norm.

Accept what you can’t change and don’t look back. You are currently either employed and thinking about a change, you are unemployed by choice, or you were laid off/terminated. It’s easier for some job seekers to stay within their comfort zone and waste valuable time complaining to others about their situation than it is to move forward. Don’t lose time by getting stuck in this mode. If you are serious about finding another job, you need to hit the ground running! This article is about managing your time during your job search. Let’s get started with seven secrets for doing just that.

Secret #1-Take time to face reality
Before you can think about looking for another job, you need to face reality and your fears as well as deal with the emotions that may be holding you back. There is no time like the present to tackle these issues. Allow enough time to work through your feelings, especially if you are angry, frustrated, depressed or anxious about what might be ahead for you. One of the mistakes that some job seekers make is starting their search before they have dealt with the psychological side of their search. They go to networking meetings and interviews with a lousy attitude. They appear to lack self-confidence. They are down in the dumps and the interviewer sees that they are not ready to go to work yet. Even job seekers that are currently working can have some of these same feelings. Take enough time to get past fears, negative emotions, etc., behind you; then start your job search. Things are what they are regardless of what you think about it.

Secret #2-Get on a regular schedule
“Sleeping in” doesn’t cut it when you need to find a job. Manage your daily activities by following a schedule that’s right for you. Decide when you will get up and when you will work in your office. Looking for a job is a full time job. There is a direct correlation between how much time you spend on a quality search (sitting in front of a computer all day e-mailing resumes is not particularly productive; a small percentage of job seekers find jobs via the Internet). Your schedule needs to include plenty of face time with people who can impact your search in a positive way. Sticking with a regular schedule will also help you beat the job loss blues and the frustration of the hunt for those for whom it might be a barrier to getting interviews.

Secret #3-Manage interruptions
Interruptions are a huge time waster. Yet, interruptions are something we can control if we make a conscious effort to do so. In many cases, we are the ones at fault because we interrupt ourselves as our minds tend to race from one idea to another. You can manage this poor use of time by writing down ideas as they occur to you. Then, stick with what you were doing rather than start off in another direction. Go back to those ideas at a later time. You can also let others, especially family members, know that when your door is closed you do not want to be interrupted. And if you are too busy to talk when the telephone rings, ask them if you can get back to them.

Secret #4-Avoid the multi-tasking trap
We are all used to multi-tasking, but it sometimes leads to loose ends and incomplete projects. You have many tasks to complete each day; focus on doing one task at a time. Start by developing your resume and cover letter template (remember, you are customizing each of these for the specific jobs to which you are applying). Prepare your marketing plan, decide whom you will ask to be your references and collect all of their current contact information. These are just a few examples of things you will be doing during your search. Start one task. Finish it; and move on to the next.

Secret #5-Take a break
Some job seekers become overwhelmed and they don’t take time for themselves to relax. For them it’s all about finding work, which is important, but everyone needs a break once in awhile. It’s difficult to be effective if you’re burned out. Don’t let your search consume all of your time. Continue to enjoy the activities you have always enjoyed, but don’t let the television get in the way of working. TV addicts definitely need to decide how much time they will spend watching their favorite programs. Plan how you’re going to use your time and when and how you will take breaks throughout the day.

Secret #6-Avoid spending time on unimportant details at the expense of high-priority tasks.
Do you ever feel like you’re busy, but that you haven’t accomplished much? Charles Hobbs, an expert on time management, suggests that many people confuse urgent matters with truly vital ones. This typically results in accomplishing urgent “trivialities,” not the high-payoff tasks. He recommends prioritizing your “to do” list by creating three categories: 1) Vital or high-payoff tasks; 2) Important, but less vital tasks; and 3) Limited pay-off tasks. Once you have this list, you can decide where you need to spend your time.

Secret #7-Don’t procrastinate
Most people procrastinate to some degree, but it’s when procrastination stands in the way of progress that we get ourselves into trouble. For some individuals procrastination is a life-long habit. If this sounds like you and you are serious about your job search, get the undesirable tasks out of the way first. For example, if you hate cold calling, but it’s something you have committed to doing every day, JUST DO IT and get it behind you for that day. Also, think about how your procrastination might be holding you back or negatively impacting your job search. Reward yourself when you are successful in avoiding procrastination. Create a deadline for each task and stick to it. After all, it’s in your best interest to complete the work you have planned to do.

In conclusion, time is a precious commodity. The less we have of it the more we seem to want. As you launch your job search, don’t lose site of the value of your time. If you have to decrease your accessibility or work outside of your home in order to have enough time to conduct an effective job search, so be it. You might also want to schedule impromptu times when you are available to family and friends in addition to planned recreation. All work and no play, even when you desperately need a job makes for a very boring life.

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