On the average, job seekers spend fewer than 15 hours a week looking for work. The average length of unemployment varies from three or more months, with some being out of work far longer (older workers and higher earners are two groups who take longer). There is a clear connection between how long it takes to find a job and the number of hours spent looking on a daily and weekly basis.
Based on many years of experience, we can say that the more time you spend on your job search each week, the less time you are likely to remain unemployed. Of course, using more effective job search methods also helps. Those who follow this advice have proven, over and over, that they get jobs in less than half the average time; and they often get better jobs, too. Time management is the key.
If you are unemployed and looking for a fulltime job, you should look for a job on a fulltime basis. It just makes sense, although many do not do so because of discouragement, lack of good techniques, and lack of structure. Most job seekers have no idea what they are going to do next Thursday—they don't have a plan. The most important thing is to decide how many hours you can commit to your job search, and stay with it. If you are unemployed, you should spend a minimum of 25
hours a week on hard-core job search activities with no goofing around, and even more time is better. The following worksheet walks you through a simple but effective process to help you organize your job search schedule.
Tip: Of course, if you are currently employed and looking for a better job, you will spend less than 25 hours a week looking—but the principles remain the same.
Structure Your Job Search Like a Job
1. Decide how many hours you will spend a week looking for work.
Write here how many hours you are willing to spend each week looking for a job: _
2. Decide which days and times you will look for work.
Answering the following questions requires you to have a schedule and a plan, just as you had when you were working.
Which days of the week will you spend looking for a job?_
How many hours will you look each day? _
At what time will you begin and end your job search on each of these days?_
A specific daily job search schedule is very important because most job seekers find it hard to stay productive each day. You already know which job search methods are most effective, and you should plan on spending most of your time using those methods.
The sample daily schedule that follows has been very effective for people who have used it, and it will give you ideas for your own. Although you are welcome to create your daily schedule however you like, we urge you to consider one similar to this one. Why? Because it works.
8—8:15 a.m. Organize work space; review schedule for interviews or follow-ups; update schedule.
8:15—9 a.m. Review old leads for follow-up; develop new leads (want ads, Internet, networking lists, and so on).
9—10 a.m. Make networking or direct employer phone calls or Internet contacts; set up meetings and interviews.
10:15-11 a.m. Make more new calls and Internet contacts.
11-12 p.m. Make follow-up calls and e-mails as needed.
1-5 p.m. Go on interviews and networking meetings; make cold contacts in the field; conduct research for upcoming interviews.
5-8 p.m. Attend networking events.
4. Get a schedule book and write down your job search schedule.
This is important: If you are not accustomed to using a daily schedule book, PDA, or planner, promise yourself that you will get a good one today. Choose one that allows plenty of space for each day's plan on an hourly basis, plus room for daily "to-do" listings. Write in your daily schedule in advance; then add interviews as they come. Get used to carrying it with you and using it!
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