People often tell you that looking for work is a full time job. Those people are correct. It is actually the WORST job ever because you don’t get paid and the more you have do it, the worse you feel about yourself. Like a regular job, you need a work-life balance. This is actually more important than it is in a regular job, because companies need to see you at your best. If you’re too eager, or mopey, or tired your chances of success decrease slightly. Sitting at home doing the same thing over and over again with little or no success really demotivates a lot of people and they start complaining about everything, including the lack of employment in their respective areas. This is not attractive to any prospective employer.
Lucky for you, I’ve put together one of my famous numbered lists to solve all your problems.
1. Wake Up at an Appropriate Time
It’s really easy when you don’t have a place to be, to sleep in, watch cartoons and live the sedentary life. You still have to put in the hours to be an effective job seeker. Also, interviews are always during work hours, so you’ll most likely need to be alert for a morning interview. It’s hard to do that at a 9am interview if you’re used to waking up at noon.
2. Plan a Full Workday
It’s really easy to get sidetracked when you don’t have a plan. Create a job hunting strategy and map out all of the tasks involved. You know when you are the most effective, so you can plan the heavy stuff for those times. You need to take into consideration the time it takes to fill out applications, write cover letters and tailor your resume. Make sure you include time to use social networking for job hunting purposes, and attend physical networking events as well. A former employer of mine once told me not to work on any one task for more than two hours at a time. He says after this time, you become less interested and less efficient. Change it up every now and then.
3. Take Breaks
The reason steps 1 and 2 are important is that if you do them properly, you won’t feel guilty about taking regularly scheduled breaks. Your employer is required to give you a 15 minute break every four hours and 30 minutes for lunch on a full shift. If he’s not a douchebag, he gives you a full hour. Take those breaks. They are government mandated for a reason. Don’t be your own douchebag boss.
4. Don’t Forget About Your Hobbies/Personal Life
If you are a regular gym-goer, now is not the time to stop. You should also take this opportunity to start eating healthier. Continue to go out and see people on a regular basis. Doing stuff from a computer at your kitchen table and then moving to the couch at 5pm, and then to bed and back to the table in the morning can make you a little crazy. The networking events you attend won’t be enough. Plan things with your friends and go out at night. Be a regular person even though you don’t have a job…just do it cheaply cause you’re poor.
When you neglect to properly plan and execute your job hunting strategy, you start to feel guilty about how little you’ve done. Then you don’t take time for yourself. This results in you being less effective. It’s a vicious cycle that ultimately results in a pint of ice-cream, a lot of crying and still no jobs. The worst thing you can do for yourself at this juncture is take away the things that make you sane. Also, if you have good friends, they will pay for things because they feel sorry for you. You won’t get this kind of treatment again until someone you love dies (true story).
P.S. These strategies can also be applied to people who work from home or for themselves.