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Job Hunting is Your New Job. Here is Your Daily Plan

You’ve just lost your job.   Give yourself a few days to deal with the emotions involved and then get moving toward finding your next position.  Under any circumstances, finding a job can be time-consuming.  Given the current economic climate, those job-seekers that are organized and dedicated to the search will get the positions. It’s important to realize that conducting a job search is a full time job.  Here are some guidelines for items you need to have on-hand for a successful job search as well as some help determining your daily structure.

Your New Workplace
Designate a place in your home which you can call your job-searching base.  All your lists and notes should be in one place.  Create an off-line file and an online folder dedicated to job search materials. Get a notebook solely for your job search in which you can take notes from conversations and research.  Make sure you tag people as job search networking resources in your email contacts or address book.  If you don’t have one already, you MUST get a calendar, there is nothing worse than missing an interview or scheduled call due to a scheduling error.

Getting Started - Deliverables List
Start by creating a list of the things you need to start your search. For example:

1.  Resume
You always have to have an updated resume at your fingertips outlining your latest skills and contributions to your previous companies

2.  List of skills & potential contribution

While some of this is covered in your resume, some of it is not.  You need to determine what your quantifiable contribution to your next company will be.  What do you bring to the table?  Essentially “why should they hire you?”

3.  30-second pitch
You never know when you are going to run into someone who can help you in your search.  When someone you just meet asks “what do you do?” or a friend asks “what are you up to these days?” simply responding “looking for a job” will get you nowhere. You need to respond by saying “I was recently working as an X in the X industry. I’ve had a lot of success doing X for my last company.  I am currently in the job market.  Do you know anyone who I can network with?”

4.  Networking contacts – professional
Make a list of everyone that you already know in the business world that you can network with.  You will add to this list as you make new business contacts.

5.  Networking contacts – friends and family
Remember that people you know also have professional lives.  They may have contacts that you need to know.  Make a list of friends and family who will be helpful networking sources.   People want to help and they are better equipped to do so if you give them a really clear understanding of exactly what you need them to do.

6.  Set up accounts on LinkedIn and other business networking sites
Business networking sites are growing at the speed of light.  LinkedIn is adding a new user every second, according to some reports.  If you are not using it yet, do it now.

Measurable, Achievable Goals
One of the biggest challenges of a job hunt is dealing with the emotional ups and downs.  It’s important to keep a positive outlook during a job hunt, so one of the things you can do is to have small successes along the way to the ultimate goal of finding a new job.  Set small, achievable goals such as “find 5 new contacts to network with today”, or “set up an informational interview” or “connect with 10 new people on LinkedIn.” Make sure they are realistic and achievable in a relatively short time span. 

Since job searching is your new job, you need to show up to work every day.  Set a realistic daily schedule with a do-able amount, so you don’t get burned out.  A schedule will allow you to make progress and achieve some of your short-term goals every day.  An example of a daily schedule may look like this:

Sample Day
Monday
9 - 11am
Log into networking accounts and locate new contacts relevant to your search, answer questions posed by others in your area of expertise to gain exposure and credibility.  Add people to networking list to be contacted.

11am   
Contact 5 new people

12pm   
Lunch

1pm – 3pm
Research companies on LinkedIn to see if you know anyone at the companies you want to work for. Research contacts from alumni associations and add them to contact list

3pm    Exercise – any form of exercise that you find invigorating or centering - get outside (if you can) and walk, run, bike or do yoga

4pm    Contact 5 new people

5pm     Set specific goals for the next day

If you have kids that are home, put time in your schedule to spend time with them.  Family time is one of the things we miss most when we work, so take advantage of this time to reconnect.


You are Your New Boss
It may sound strange to think of yourself as your own boss, but you need to wear multiple hats in your job search.  One of those hats includes the boss.  Don’t let yourself give yourself excuses for why you don’t want to work on your job search that day.  This is why your schedule needs to be comfortable enough that you won’t find yourself justifying why you really need to go fishing for a week.  Build in enough time for yourself so you can focus when it comes time to focus.

Checks and Balances
It’s always helpful to have an accountability keeper.  Someone who, besides you, can be kept apprised of your progress.  It can be a spouse, friend, relative or even kids can make great accountability partners.  It feels good to report successes and activity to someone else.  It doesn’t feel good to report no progress, so designate someone as your accountability keeper and report your progress to them (daily or weekly, whichever is more appropriate.)  Be specific with them as to what you need them to do. 

Time for Yourself
Most people are employed for the majority of their adult life, so when you are in between jobs, you can build time into the schedule for yourself - reading, walking, exercising, or socializing.  It shouldn’t replace the job search time, but feeling good is such an important part of how you project yourself to others, so schedule time for yourself into your day.

Time for Others
Volunteering builds self-esteem and is another networking outlet.  It also gives a hiring manager a greater depth of understanding of who you are and what you are about to see volunteer roles on your resume.  It will make you feel good about yourself and your contribution and that extra confidence is helpful during a job search, especially if it turns out to be somewhat more extended than you have experienced before.

Professional volunteering not only gives you a boost on your resume but it is an outstanding networking opportunity.  Offer to give a talk to an association or company in your area of expertise. Host a networking event.  Write a white paper for a publication.  Any opportunity to get in front of your peer group is one worth taking.

In Summary
Provide yourself with structure and confidence and your job search will be much more focused and effective.  If you are not used to networking, do some research to find out how to network effectively.

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