How to Make Your Job Search REALLY Productive

Job Search Training

Searching for a new job is a very time-consuming and stressful process. If you’re currently unemployed, it actually becomes your “full-time job”. If you are currently employed, but are looking for a new job, well – it’s like taking on a second job on top of having a job already. To get the most out of your job search, you want to be as productive as possible. There are a lot of ways to better organize your time and to direct your energy to make your job search really productive.

Below is a list of what ingredients make for a successful job search (keep in mind some of this might have been mentioned in other articles or videos already, but not as combined as it is here):

  • Networking — maintain relationships with peers and others and create new ones
  • Monitoring your online presence – don’t let bad stuff about you appear online
  • Searching for jobs – you know the drill. Search for new opportunities on a daily basis
  • Researching companies – this goes hand in hand with “searching for jobs”. Don’t apply at certain companies unless you plan on feeling miserable all the time.
  • Updating resumes – customize your resume per application and of course keep it updated all the time
  • Writing cover letters – customize your cover letter.
  • Applying to jobs – set a goal to apply for a certain number of jobs per week
  • Following up on active applications – sometimes this one is difficult or not possible, but where do-able, follow-up.
  • Interviewing for jobs – if you do not have interviews lined up, practice and fine-tune answers to common interview questions. Quiz cards or “cheat sheets” make learning easier and maybe even a bit fun.
  • Following up on interviews – definitely send a thank you email to the company after an interview

That’s your first 10 basic steps for what should be on your schedule for a day, a weekend, or an entire week/month. Repetition and persistence are key here. Now learn how to expand on these tips:

1) Make a daily plan for yourself.

Some things like searching for a job should be done daily, while others might be something just for a day or two during the week.

For example:

Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays: Network – reach out to someone in your network (think LinkedIn as an example). Just say “hello” or meet for lunch or coffee to touch base.

Tuesdays and Thursdays: Practice interview questions and answers. Rehearse in front of a mirror or film yourself with your cellphone camera.

Every Wednesday: Google your name and update your social networking sites if necessary.

Every Tuesday and Friday: Follow up on job applications you sent the previous week


2) Maintain a journal of your activities.

This should include a list for the jobs you’ve applied to (with which companies, on what date, to whom, and with which resume/letter, and dates of follow-up (see video how I organize resumes and cover letters for help)).

Maintain a separate list of your networking efforts. Take notes (after the meeting, phone call, or email) so that you remember the critical parts of a conversation. Follow-up as needed if you receive any potential job leads.


3) Use Twitter for your Job Search

This one might require some extra work, but it might be worth it. Some companies announce new job openings via Twitter with a link back to their website where the actual job posting is. Research companies that you like to work for and see if they use Twitter for that type of thing. Follow them accordingly.


4) Taking Notes and Keeping a Journal

Use a note-taking application to keep track of things. I use OneNote to keep track of certain job search related things. An example of what you want to keep track of is salary information you find embedded in job listings. Salary statistics published by websites and magazines are Ok, but they are very generic. Some companies or recruiters publish actually salary information for some jobs. Public Sector jobs often have detailed salary ranges posted as well. While public sector jobs usually pay less than private sector jobs, it gives you an idea of what is out there. I usually add 5% to 10% on top of public sector salary ranges to have an idea of what a private sector job might pay. Using something like Evernote or OneNote allows you to keep track of that info.

I also keep track of certain job openings – especially if I see the same job posted again a few months after I saw it already. For me that is an indicator of potential problems with a certain company or hiring manager.

5) Technology

Use your cellphone or electronic calendar to setup reminders for yourself. The best plan does not help you, if you forget to do something. An electronic reminder from your cellphone might help. I use the Google Calendar online to send me alerts to my phone and via email. It really helps to keep me focused and I can also block out time to make sure nothing else comes in between me and my job search efforts.