How Much Time You Should Be Spending on Your Job Search

15.08.2016 1768

Being a successful job seeker can be a challenging feat these days. If you've recently graduated, or suddenly became unemployed, or dying to get out of your current job, how much time should you should really be spending on the job search? Because it’s so new to most of us, choosing how to spend our time each day/week/month can be confusing.

In order to help you prepare for what you’re about start, we outlined four most common job-searcher scenarios with concrete guidelines for how much time you should be spending on your job-search and why.

If You Recently Graduated/Graduating Soon

Finding a job after graduation used to be fairly straightforward. Assuming you did all the things you were supposed to do in graduate school, you could usually end up with a decent starter job in your field. It would be perfect if you started figuring out what to do next 6 month before you finish your education. Six month before you graduate start building your portfolio.

You may be surprised to learn that your résumé is only part of your e-portfolio, and arguably not the most important part. An e-portfolio helps to highlight your most important professional skills and may provide links to previous work you've done in graduate school or in the field.

As you approach, we’d recommend thinking about your job search as a part-time job, and start setting aside 10 to 20 hours per week whenever possible. Join professional networks, set up job alerts, you can set up alerts for jobs related to your profession and those posted in your groups. Employment websites specific to your field are always worth using, provided they are current and reliable.

If You Are Recently Unemployed

No one who has been unemployed expects it to last very long. The reality is that you will be looking for work longer than you want.

Budgeting at least 30 hours a week to finding relevant postings, setting up networking meetings, tailoring your cover letter (and resume), and submitting applications. I know the process can sound intimidating, but look on the bright side: It’s amazing that you have large chunks of time to devote to the search.

When I was looking for employment full-time, I found it really helpful to plan out the hours I was going to “work” and the location where I was going to tackle said work. For example, I’d map out a schedule similar to this one: Tomorrow I will go to the library from 10 AM to 1:30 PM, and then I’ll go home for a lunch break. After that, I’ll work from a coffee shop from 2 to 6 PM. Purposeful planning like this helped hold me accountable. It also really decreased my stress level—I knew I was putting in the time needed to land a job, so I didn’t feel guilty hanging out with friends at night or doing something fun on the weekend.

If You Want To Change Your Current Job

You hate your job and wish you could leave ASAP? Although it’s a crummy situation to be in, there is a silver lining: If you’re miserable in your current position, you’ll be pretty motivated to spend time on a job search. It can be hard to explore a better, more suitable opportunity while you’re also working, but if you set clear goals for yourself and carve out specific time to devote to the hunt, you can fit it all in—and not risk losing the job you have before you’re adequately prepared.

If it’s unrealistic for you to accomplish a significant amount of job searching during the week, I recommend setting aside at least five to six hours on a Saturday or Sunday, when you can give the process the attention it needs. I find the flow and focus that results from utilizing a bigger chunk of time is far more beneficial than doing things on-and-off over the course of a couple days. During the work week, plan on devoting 30 minutes here or there to respond to job-search emails, to follow up with recruiters, and to grab coffee with a networking contact.

If You Want To Change Your Career

Exploring a new career path is exciting and, if you are serious about making a career transition, your job search may look a little different from past searches. Networking will be a very important part of the process, as will learning new skills and determining the necessary qualifications involved in making the switch.

You should be able to get things moving if you devote a few (think seven to eight) hours a week exploring different sectors and positions. Likely, you’ll be spending your time setting up informational coffees, researching what it would look like to work in a different role, and educating yourself on a new field. Try to give yourself a set of concrete goals to accomplish each week, such as sending out 10 networking emails or reading six articles about companies that you’re interested in exploring. If you want to build a new skill, such as coding, you can also take a class to really help you focus. This will be a bigger time commitment (likely an additional five to eight hours each week), but it will allow you to build a concrete skill that may really help you make your next transition.


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